Innovation in marketing communications: why don’t we talk anymore?

I recently read a blog post written by John W Lewis of Holosoft titled: “It’s not about the technology. Or is it?” in which he argued that developments in ‘social communication’ (social media/social networking) are all about the technology. His view is that the fundamentals of communication have not changed, just the way we communicate has changed and this is due to innovation and changes in technology.

Innovation has enabled us to extend our communication channels and engage with customers in so many different ways. The general consensus from a marketing perspective is that these technologies are beneficial.

But is technology changing the fundamentals of communication?

I was talking to a friend the other day about a project he had been working on, involving three other parties, which had just fallen apart. Reading between the lines, the two key issues were miscommunication and differing expectations.

Throughout the duration of the project all communication had been conducted via email, which as things started to break down became quite acrimonious. I doubt the project could have been saved but to my mind the lack of real person-to-person communication contributed to its downfall.

The following day I was talking to another friend about the problems she is having with her mobile phone signal. She told me that she had emailed the  support department (as directed to by the website) to say that her mobile phone signal had been dropping out intermittently over the past few days. She received an automated response saying, “Sorry, no you can’t carry over your existing phone number.” Home alone with three children on day seven of half-term week this was not the response she was looking for!

What happens when we don’t want to talk to a computer?

Have you ever tried to contact a real person at Facebook or BT when you have had an issue you would like to discuss? Believe me, it is nigh on impossible. Both companies prefer to send you down the FAQ route, which in my experience is neither helpful nor conducive to a positive experience.

It is very easy to rely on technology to communicate with people but it can so easily be got wrong. You can’t convey tone in an email or Twitter message and interact or respond in quite the same way as if you were having a verbal conversation.

There is no doubt that innovation and the new communication technologies it has brought have contributed greatly to our marketing capabilities. However, at the end of the day we are all doing business with individual people regardless of whether we are a B2B or B2C organisation and sometimes there is no substitute for the good old fashioned approach of talking!

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