What are the communication rules in a disruptive market?

by Marcellina Powell

Published on
September 27, 2016

The easy answer: There are no rules.

Here is the long answer.

Everywhere we look, disruption is happening — so much so that it is starting to become predictable, part of the norm. Essentially, disruption is losing its ability to be disruptive.

Social media is changing our digital news habits, with online news now ranked more important than television news by those under 45 globally. Podcasts are increasing in popularity, unsettling traditional broadcasters, with news outlets like The Guardian and The Australian creating their own.

It’s resulting in a media landscape that is becoming more and more fragmented, enabling anyone to produce content — even brands. In this rapidly changing digital content landscape, storytelling becomes more, not less important. Here’s how some brands are taking advantage of the age of disruption.

Every brand has a story to tell

Instead of telling the company’s story, AirBnB encourages its community to tell their stories. Hosts and travellers from all over the world talk about their personal experiences on the website, making the brand seem more human and internationally relevant.

John Deere printed the first edition of its brand magazine in 1895 long before the phrase ‘content marketing’. The Furrow still has 2 million readers globally, is considered the Rolling Stone of agriculture, and demonstrates the power of brand storytelling.

Brands are not only sponsoring Podcasts, they are making their own. The ASOS (online fashion store) podcast has more than 30,000 listeners and interviews young female entrepreneurs, bringing a voice to the brand.

GE has proven that you don’t have to be a consumer brand to kill it on social media. GE uses social media including Vine, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat to humanise the brand and tell stories that make science seem fun across all age groups.

It also uses video effectively, bringing their GE brand to life beautifully with a journey into a child’s imagination as she envisions all the amazing things her Mum makes as a GE employee.

There’s no such thing as one size fits all

With all of this technology, it’s now easier than ever to tailor specific messages to different audiences. Targeted online advertising and social media can serve brand messages directly to the people who matter most.

As communicators, it’s easy to get distracted — we need to focus on story, not platform-driven work. We need to explore opportunities to push at the edges of innovation, experimenting with multimedia where film, illustration and animation come together to tell a story, and creating new partnerships to form digital relationships with our audiences.

All of this disruption aside, one rule reigns supreme in any market — storytelling is the key to influencing people’s minds and behaviours. Know your story, find your voice and follow the rules of disruption — there are no rules — to connect with imagination and intelligence.