Jumping from Traditional to Digital

It’s a new world for the traditional copywriter.

Shaking off things you’ve learnt and moving into a world where you need to brainstorm at a completely different level, with all kinds of statistics and analytics provided that were never available to you before, regardless of how you find the world of Information Technology (IT) confusing on top of it all, can get slightly overwhelming sometimes.

‘Social media’, you hear, is what everyone is buzzing about nowadays. So you scout on to the most popular sites, sometimes finding that you already had a dormant account on one of them just lying around, and start shooting off kilobytes and megabytes of ‘data’ — or content — as we refer to textual, visual or video forms of ‘data’ in the world of IT.

Getting the hang of social media platforms can be a major pain in the bud. For instance, it took me six years to understand Twitter — that may not be the case if you’re Generation Y. (Although I’m sure I would have figured it out earlier if I cared about it enough before. In fact, it was precisely because I moved to a digital agency that got me motivated to get into the right groove — and I’m still learning! Only yesterday my kid sister asked me why I followed so many ‘eggs’ — referring to the default Twitter photo that most inactive members refuse to update.)

The first thing you need to understand is that anyone — brand, celebrity, or institution — asking for organic likes, followers, or +1s, needs two things:

1. Really high quality content.

2. Some dollars to spend on advertisements.

The difference between personal accounts and corporate accounts is the reach their message can get. You would probably never advertise on Twitter to get noticed, but a brand would — and should. So don’t let your limited number of followers keep you from thinking you can’t manage a brand — because that’s a different, albeit similar, ball game. The lingo of each medium remains the same — but your messages get a viral spread through friends while a brand achieves that (and much more) through advertisements.

Apart from lingo, the similarity lies in the method of communication, age group, and general environment of the people using the service. For instance, Snapchat users are predominantly teenagers — they are playful in the way they use emoticons and words, and get seriously offended if you send them a text message that is not written on a photograph — really insightful information for a brand, really.

See, when it comes to digital, the difference lies in the customized messaging for each medium. Yes, you are still practicing public relations or corporate communications, but at a much faster pace and with diminishing attention spans.

Generally speaking, new media has forced brands into thinking of new ways to spread awareness of their products and services. At the same time, it also forces them to present themselves on multiple channels, ideally in different ways, even though copy-pasting content can sometimes be acceptable.

Brands are social now, which means it would be boring to see the same picture you saw on Instagram again on Facebook. People like brands that are creative. But we say copy-pasting is acceptable because on average, there are only so many mediums one person can realistically manage — even if they’re actually Generation Y. It all depends on the demographics of each channel or medium.

The emerging role of a marketing technologist reveals how copywriters need to improve their understanding of the various mechanisms in place today that tie in interactive content with sales and other business functions, such as corporate communications, public relations, advertising, search engine optimisation, marketing automation and channel management.

It’s up to you to view the glass as half full or half empty. If you want to stay ahead of your peers in this game, you will fine tune and repurpose your skills for a variety of purposes that you’ve never known before. This you can only achieve if you approach new mediums with an optimistic approach, showing an eagerness to learn and develop, while building on to your ability to write compelling, engaging copy.

After all, words are the foundation of everything in this world, if you think about it.

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