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Principles underpinning online communications

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I have been doing a lot of external consulting for inhouse teams over the past few months and one of the things that I present to these people is that online communications is underpinned by six elements (some internal facing, some externally visible):

  • Transparency – because people can see through spin and secrets have a habit of being discovered. When I was at Yahoo!, internal memos turned up as soon as they were communicated on sites like Valleywag. You really don’t have a choice
  • Honesty – see above
  • Process – so you can handle enquiries through different media in a timely manner and route them through to the relevant respondent
  • Rapid response – to use a cliché: its about moving at internet speed
  • Flexibility – to allow for a rapid response and to deal with situations that don’t easily fit within pre-defined scenarios
  • Integration – because consistency is golden. Years ago when I worked as a marketing contractor for a large credit card firm, we used to have to discount customers interest rates on a regular basis as they would receive a mail drop for a new lower card interest rate and then phone up suitably irate and demand the new rate on their card


Kin confirmation over Twitter

When I first saw the news about Microsoft axing the Kin series of handsets, I was surprised. I tweeted Frank Shaw at Microsoft and he came back an hour later with a response in what would have been the early morning Seattle time. Transparent, honest, rapid response delivered.

2 replies on “Principles underpinning online communications”

Good post – and I’d say that flexibility can’t be emphasised enough. If you haven’t got this bedded in from the start, and have internal processes that allow for this, then you may find yourself screwed should you be in the midst of a crisis situation online. This should be the first thing you understand and have in place before opening up your brand online.
I would say that ‘authenticity’ should be added in there as well, where it pertains to the way that you communicate with a particular community online, and how they communicate with each other. This is such a valuable principle and is what any valuable community operates on. And it clearly applies to brands when you talk about how you communicate with your stakeholders. If you’re not authentic,then you’ll get found out pretty quickly.

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