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Are we heading for a social media switch off?

Grazia Digital Detox Social Media Switch Off Issue

I rarely buy glossy magazines but as I was browsing the aisles in my local supermarket last week, one in particular caught my eye. With a bold 'GET UNPLUGGED' statement emblazoned across the cover in neon orange, news and lifestyle publication, Grazia, announced its 'Digital Detox Issue' - an entire edition devoted to taking a break from the technology that has become part and parcel of our everyday lives.

Intrigued to find out more about this digital backlash, I handed over my £2.20 and headed home to find out how to reclaim the real world in 76 ways, and what happened when a blogger switched off from her seven million followers for 48 hours. (Answer: she valued the real time spent with family and friends, realised how dependent she was on technology, but was still glad to get back to it.)

While I don't for a minute think we're looking at a return to the dark days before Twitter and Facebook conquered the world, it did make me wonder if our appetite for digital and social media is heading towards saturation point. Are people hankering after a 'less is more' approach, to cut back on the perceived information overload and the stress of being constantly switched on?

Instant gratification, or information overload?

As a consumer, it's easy to understand how people feel pressured by the sheer volume of information that now comes at us from every angle. Sign up for any service online and you immediately get two or three emails landing in your inbox, welcoming you to the party and, while they have your attention, asking what else they can offer. Buy a pack of pencils on Amazon and your browser will be forever more filled with ads for stationery of all shapes and sizes.

According to the magazine's Unplugged reader survey, 74% of readers think they'd be happier if they regularly took a break from technology* and I can understand the sense of freedom that might bring. But, while the concept of a 'digitox' is intriguing, are we really heading for a mass switch off? I'm not convinced. The convenience and instant gratification that the internet, email and social media bring is far too ingrained into our way of life. With internet usage by the UK's adult population estimated to hit 82% in 2017 (UK Digital Users: The eMarketer Forecast for 2017) it seems digital is here to stay.

Creating content that customers want

As a professional copywriter, what this debate reinforces for me, is the importance of making sure the content you're producing is correctly targeted and appropriate for your audience. Who hasn't been put off by random emails offering to make you millions, irrelevant direct mail and a host of, often literally, blanket door drops. (Thanks, but I'm not in the market for a floral-patterned fleece coverlet right now. When I am, I'll be sure to get in touch.)

In my experience, taking the time to get to know your audience and tailoring your messages for them, will do more for your business than bombarding them with generic communications from every angle. Customers want to know about products and services that are relevant to them. They appreciate tips and clever hacks that will help make finding what they need or how to do something easier. They're happy to be contacted via convenient channels at appropriate times, with a message that's been created with them in mind.

Interesting, well-written blogs; relevant links on social media; informative emails and newsletters; appropriately targeted online and print campaigns; product literature that explains what the customer needs to know in clear, jargon-free language - these are all valuable tools for promoting your business, if they're written and distributed in the right way.

Yes, it's an increasingly crowded market out there and that means businesses have to work doubly hard to connect with their target audience and achieve the response they're looking for. Communications that tap into what a customer really wants and share that information how and when they want it, will get your business noticed for the right reasons and make sure your customers are switched on, not turned off.

Need a hand with your communications?

If you need a hand with your written communications, I'd love to help. Drop me an email or call me on 07979 225335.

* Source: Grazia magazine, 26 June 2017.

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