Can you make it brief? Brands must understand short-form communication to reach a mobile audience.

Guest post from Kary Delaria:

I know this isn’t going to shock the #MobileChat audience…

Photo credit: Small_Realm, Creative Commons License

According to the Mobile Web Watch study by Accenture, 69% of Internet users are accessing it with a mobile device and 62% are using a mobile device to access an online community.

Chances are, if you took a look at your own web and social analytics, you’d see similar if not greater numbers.

The mobile device is a destination – communication delivered via this medium needs more than responsive web design to be effective. Beyond display, the message must be crafted in a way that is palatable and pleasing for consumption not only on a small screen, but to someone who is not a captive audience, receiving this message while doing something else – interacting with a second screen (tv or pc), standing in line at the grocery store, or checking in during a meeting.

Technology – mobile technology, in particular – has changed they way that a business talks with its customers, employees and stakeholders. Marketing communications strategies have never before had to consider a communication style that is so mobile, sharable, and conversational.

Stop thinking about developing content “for the mobile audience” and realize that anything you publish digitally is likely to be consumed on a mobile device. And, if your strategy includes communication via social media channels, it’s especially likely that this is being consumed on a mobile device as well. (According to The Social Habit 2012 by Edison Research, one in three Facebook users accesses the service most via phone.)

This dictates a radical shift in the format, tone, style, length and frequency of the content brands develop.

Too often, companies rooted in traditional marketing and long-format communication want to transfer this to the mobile/social web – tweet a link to the press release, copy/paste the newsletter on the blog, post a paragraph from the white paper on Facebook and link to the PDF.

“Pushing out” (this term gives me the heebie jeebies) marketing gobbledygook to the social web is an approach that ignores opportunity and fails to take advantage of medium.

It’s time to shake things up. Take a long close look at all of your content (not just marketing, advertising and public relations, but employee communications, customer service, etc.), discover the story that your audience is hungry for, and package it for consumption in short form.

Develop a Human Brand Voice.

Brands are talking in ways they never have before. As Jennifer Kane explains, “They don’t just talk in mission statements and messaging…they chat, educate, share, endorse, entertain and tell stories.”

More than shortening the message for the medium, brands and their content creators need to understand how to translate that message into a human voice – one to which people will want to listen and respond.

Engage in Dialogue.

Human brand voice becomes especially key on the social web where conversations occur. A company’s short-form communication needs to include more than conversation starters. Brands need to be prepared to respond, ask questions, seek information – to talk in the same voice as the audience with whom they are connected.

More than words.

People are consuming a lot more than text via social platforms and on mobile devices. Images, video, and audio are more convenient and engaging ways for people to receive a message. When developing short-form content, consider ways to tell your brand story with more than words.

Transform data presented in a white paper into a compelling infographic or invite your top salespeople to share advice in a video series. Remember, it’s more than marketing message after marketing message – give your audience something that they want to receive and share.

Long form content isn’t going away – (for a great post about how even this content can, and should, be adapted for a mobile audience take a look at this advice from Shelly Kramer) but that’s not the format that is going take full advantage of a mobile, social web. Shortened, conversational content should not replace current efforts, nor should it be considered a strategy on its own. It’s simply another tone and style that must become a part of they way brands shares their story.

I’m looking forward to continuing this conversation on Wednesday.

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