Facebook recently celebrated that it had passed one billion active daily users. It is worth noting that 934 million of them are using mobile devices to access their feeds. LinkedIn similarly reports that it now has 414 million users (up from 332 million a year ago), with more than a third accessing the service every day, estimates varying but most seem to indicate half accessing via mobile devices. As an aside, here in the UK there are more than 20 million LinkedIn users. Which, when one considers that we have a working population of circa 32 million, makes for a seriously material percentage using it!
Why do we take note of these numbers?
There is a simple, yet powerful reason. Sociologically, these numbers tell us that we have become digitally savvy, receiving news, data, information, entertainment on demand and to meet the mobile, on-the-go needs, increasingly in a headline form that is attention-grabbing, ensuring we all tune-in. The downside to this is that we have become more easily distracted with lessening attention spans. A constant worry for many of our clients is that the nature of these new digital channels means that the same story is told and seen repeatedly on feeds, but with the cause and effect that readers instinctively ignore the bland versions and quickly go for the one that grabs attention straight off. This is especially so when considering the stats above and that the majority of users now log-on using mobile devices.
This means that much of what we tune into is now being delivered via imagery (infographics), shorter form copy with snappy headlines (blogs) or something visually engaging (video or animation).
What does this mean for Financial Services?
Financial Services is a business sector that is finally awakening to the power of content-led marketing, increased social outreach and driving engagement. Some say it has been slow to get into the game, maybe it has, but the advantage of this is that it has played catch-up quickly and jumped straight to adopt many of the best habits of building genuine engagement.
Traditionally, much of the sector has prided itself upon its ability to deliver long-form, carefully crafted pieces of technical writing. All of which is good, but, if we recognise that recipients are wanting to digest their 'lifestyle' information in something instantly engaging, then the visuality of it must be the absolute priority.
This is not to say that there isn't a place for the longer form, whitepaper style pieces. After all, the sector is all about demonstrating professional expertise, but the prerogative must be to think more visually and look to see how that same piece can be broken down into something quicker, more easily digestible, such as image led, or how you can get some real people or business personality into it by creating simple videos that show how you really understand the topic and can deliver your knowledge with some engagingly plain speaking.
One word of caution though. In doing this, always remember that all this output is still a core fundament of your brand. Never lose sight of this and in every single thing published, right down to a tweet, always ask yourself, is this what our brand stands for?
Mark Huxley, Executive Director