EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written prior to the news that the nurse who answered the telephone call was found dead.
The Australian pranksters who almost managed to speak with the Duchess of Cambridge in her hospital bed were surprised to get through. But that’s because they knew the call was a hoax; the woman answering the telephone would not have imagined that some Ozzie DJ would be calling, pretending to be HM The Queen…!
Our expectations of the kind of communications we receive influence our reactions to them. If you expect your email inbox to be a place where you get a lot of spam, your “default” reaction will be negative for most emails. Equally, if your Twitter account is the only place where you communicate with your friends on a specific topic, when someone else joins the conversation you are more likely to treat them as friendly because you are already in “friend” mode.
These days we have a wide array of ways of communicating with our clients and prospects, so choosing the right one is important. That’s because their expectation of the kind of communication they receive will influence their reaction. Send something on email they would prefer to get via Facebook or LinkedIn and your communication will not hit the mark so easily.
In the “olden days” you only had two options – letter or phone call. But now you could send a letter, call on the phone, use a text message, send an email, post a message on Facebook, use a LinkedIn InMail, send an AudioBoo, write a Direct Message Tweet, use WhatsApp, even send a fax…! And this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the plethora of communications tools we have at our disposal these days – after all, if you really wanted you could still send a carrier pigeon…!
However, new research may well help point you in the right direction, to assist you in making the decision as to which communications method to use. The study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison showed that families which are conversational in the “real world” tended to use Facebook rather than email to communicate with each other. Conversely, families which were more conformist in their approach to life preferred to use email to keep in touch with each other. In other words what you might call “touchy feely” families preferred the more informal nature of Facebook to communicate with each other.
This is a big clue for businesses. By truly understanding the kind of people you are dealing with you can work out which is the best way to communicate with them. If the individuals are formal in their approach then email looks a good bet. But if you have people you need to connect with who are relaxed and chatty, they may respond more positively if you use a communications method like a phone call or Facebook or Twitter.
Once again we have new research pointing out the “horses for courses” approach we need to take. There is no “one size fits all” communications system which you can use for your business, if you want to have maximum impact. Instead you need to tailor your methods of communication to your target people. That means they will be more receptive to your message than if you chose a method of communication that was not a “good fit”. After all, imagine what would have happened if those Australian pranksters had sent a fax to the hospital…!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+