“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one most adaptable to change.” And now, almost 150 years on, Charles Darwin’s famous statement makes more sense than ever in a world awash in challenges. Even back then the naturalist was saying that rigidity, in any kind of undertaking or enterprise, would always be a stumbling block standing in the way of progress. And in these times of pandemic, social upheaval and climate crisis, clearly this premise could not be any truer.
I find what lies behind his statement fascinating. Quite simply, why? Because digital marketing and social networks are the epicenter of change in today’s world; the place where what works one day stops working the next, a space with and without rules that does not abide manuals or strictures, and only prizes attention and the ability to flow.
And social media dynamics are proof of this, with their ever-changing daily challenges and shape-shifting agendas as life goes on. This means that we have to develop a real ability to accurately read and understand the new codes and signals coming from the crowded digital ecosystem.
There is much more than information and ideas to be found on these networks. They are webs of emotion. Humberto Maturana maintained that it is not true that human beings are rational beings above all. “We are like mammals, emotional beings that use reason to justify or hide the emotions our actions take place in.” And in the pandemic this has become abundantly apparent.
This is the point of view our team has used for several years as we develop digital strategies that are properly adapted to this increasingly liquid virtual world. Our objective is to continually engage and hold the interest of stakeholders across the broad panoply of companies and industries we serve.
Let’s begin with the basics. When the social networks – Twitter and Facebook – took over the web about a decade and a half ago, what was in use at the time was what we might colloquially term a “bread and butter” or “commodity” approach. It was simply keyword monitoring; finding which keywords were associated with the company. This monitoring first helped to focus a brand’s network strategy, and then became an indispensable input. In other words, if I were responsible for a certain industry, then I had to monitor the words linked to it.
From these early keywords, the virtual world moved on to “topics of interest.” Let me give you an example that is sure to offend no one. If a decade and a half ago I were monitoring a keyword, for example related to tea, surely my keywords would have been tea, tea time, benefits of tea, tea harvest, countries that produce tea, tea varieties, teas Chileans drink, among many other concepts.
If we had then used these same words and moved on to stage 2.0, the focus would have been on “topics and questions of interest” such as which are the premium tea brands? Is English tea the best in the world? Or did the English leave their mark in other latitudes and is that the type of tea I should drink? How is tea grown? I would also add tea as an antioxidant; varieties of tea ranging from Ceylon, lapsang, earl grey, green tea and the health benefits of tea. Is tea a sustainable industry? And there would be other questions like these. Which is to say that it is the social network users themselves who are driving us to provide more complete information.
What we at Azerta offer is something very different. Our 3.0 digital strategies put the monitoring focus on the stakeholders. We accomplish this by replacing the keywords associated with a topic of interest with “the conversations generated in the social media space.” We can apply this technique with a whole variety of clusters; parliamentarians, members of the constitutional convention, stakeholders from various fields to regular followers and opinion leaders on broad topics such as ecology, recycling, energy transmission, and so on and so forth.
What do we get from this? Key insights that allow us to know what stakeholders are talking about, what their concerns and motivations are, and these inputs give us the information we need to design our segmented communication strategy. The tools we have designed at Azerta also give us the flexibility to redirect the chosen plan when the stakeholders’ conversations change. We do this because what really matters is to continue generating content that is relevant to and creates engagement from those particular audiences.
Be present, listen, create and constantly adapt. This is the way to generate engagement and anticipate upcoming issues. The idea really is not to try to tamp down or stop listening to the conversations that make us uncomfortable (which is almost impossible to do in the digital world anyway), but rather to always stay one step ahead.
(*) Azerta Board Member. B.A. in Social Communication, Journalist and Certificate Course in Audience and Digital Content Management from Universidad Diego Portales.