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Leaping lizards! 7 ways to create super sticky digital content 

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Leaping lizards! 7 ways to create super sticky digital content 

We sometimes think of evolution as a thing of the past – the territory of dinosaurs – but constant changes around us continue to force us to adapt to thrive.

Just like the native green lizards that hang out in the lower branches of Florida’s trees. Their noses were put out of joint when their cheeky cousins, the brown lizards moved in. The green lizards reacted by abandoning the lower branches for the treetops which are thinner and smoother, so their bodies adapted. To cling to the smooth branches, they evolved. Their toepads grew bigger and stickier, allowing them to thrive up high.

There’s a vital lizardy lesson for comms pros here – adapt or you’re on a slippery slope down a bumpy tree…

“Developing great digital content is vital to engage with your staff. The majority of employees own smartphones, use social media and constantly see great (as well as rubbish) content. We’re bombarded with 10k-plus messages each day,” says Darren Caveney, creator of the communications industry resource Comms2Point0 and digital communications specialist.

“They’ll see and hear it at lunch, on the commute and at home every night. That’s serious competition.”

So put your internal work in that context and our content needs to work much harder to stand out in a crowded market.

Like those lizards, we must adapt the way we do things. The fundamentals of quality content remain true, but the following points can help us to consider how our content can and must evolve.

Strategy must be king of your jungle

Like most aspects of comms, content must be based on a consistent and creative strategy that’s built on insightand research and linked to your organisation’s aims. Form that strategy around evergreen content, but allow for the flexibility to adapt, repurpose and respond to the inevitable updates and topical changes. The beauty of digital lies in the ability to use data to refine and improve your content as you go.

A commitment to planning and mapping your way forward with an agile attitude is crucial.

Reflect natural habitats

Where do your audiences prefer to consume their content?
Do you know how much is viewed on mobile versus pc?
Which of your channels are busiest and at what times of the day?

The most impactful digital experiences acknowledge individual needs and personal preferences. Digital content engages on their terms, when it suits them most. Take advantage of the ability to segment your stakeholders and tailor your content according to where, when and what gets them going. Then inspire individual readers with a clear goal and know what will make them leap into action as a result.

Preserve environments by owning your own platforms

“As social platforms continue to evolve and ‘probably’ charge us increasingly in the future I worry about how much internal channels are invested in platforms like Facebook at Work,” says Darren. “I can see all the benefits such platforms offer – staff awareness, relative ease of use, employees engaging with each other naturally and without the comms team having to direct everything of course appeals.

But what happens in two years when prices have gone up and budgets have gone down?

Owning our own platforms is vital. Every organisation will be different but if you have an intranet then it should offer first-class content and if you email employees then treat it like you would an important external campaign.”

Expose a human side

The benefits of face-to-face contact can be lost through digital media. Developing a human face to the content you share can help to overcome this. Organisations need to show authenticity and personality and this can be reflected in their content.

Show who you are by dropping the barriers of industry language and polished, unnatural images. Share stories that show what’s important to your organisation, build trust through your content by showing what you stand for and align your values with your audiences’.

This video from Mansfield Police demonstrates the point beautifully as an officer plays the piano for an elderly crime victim. Human, heartwarming and perfectly unpolished… (super spot, Dan Slee 😉 )

Push the boundaries to cut through the swamp

The digital landscape is literally swamped with content – for it to cut through, it needs to be creative, offering its audience a reason why it deserves their interest. Take the initiative to disrupt the status quo and do something unexpected…

Rather than creating run-of-the-mill comms around IT security, we created this animation for the University of Manchester’s Cyber Security Campaign – something that would stand out, convey IT security messages in a new and engaging way and create an immediate sense of intrigue.

Adapt, adapt, adapt

Research, analyse, look beyond your industry, find out what’s working where and try new things. Keeping up with what others are doing and constantly refreshing your approach is a key element of adapting and thriving. It is our job as communicators to limber up and scale that tree like nimble lizards, remaining agile and adapting to the changes we face.

In fact, not keeping pace could be downright dangerous for your organisation. “The cost of falling behind with how people want to consume media is that your organisation will be at best irrelevant and at worst seen to be actively not caring,” writes Dan Slee in this recent post on Comms2Point0 about comms predictions for 2018.

“For our digital content to continue evolving effectively we need to use the data and metrics available to us to refine the media we’re creating, check what works and what doesn’t, stop sharing content that doesn’t engage and start testing new things.”

Grow slow, evolution won’t occur overnight

“Give yourself time to succeed,” says Darren. “Through the Comms2Point0 UnAwards I’m fortunate to be able to see the very best internal work around. One of the common themes of the best work submitted is that the team have made proper time to be creative, to think, to test, to launch, refine and review. It can’t be done with a five minute update on the intranet. Easier said than done? That is where demand management and genuine organisational prioritisation comes in.”

Embracing digital means adopting a fearless approach to testing and learning,
trying new things, helping two-way dialogue to happen and leaving those bygone brown lizards behind.

Although the differences between how we communicate through traditional media and the digital landscape can often be subtle ones – quality over quantity, strong messaging and audience empowerment will always apply – adopting the points above will help to keep us at the top of our tree.

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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