Estimated read time: 7 minutes
It can be easy to forget about the channels that we don’t use personally. If we read everything on a smartphone and everyone around us does the same, it’s easy to start thinking that everyone does the same. That’s not always true and many different people use different devices, technology and channels. This podcast discusses how easy it is to forget about channels we don’t personally and the importance of keeping an open mind toward other channels.
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Today I want to talk about all those channels that are out there. How do we keep track of all those channels and make sure that our content and our stories are shared in an appropriate way on all those different channels. I think there’s a tendency that we focus on the channels the we like ourselves. For example, I like my iPad. I like my iPhone so I talk about Apple products. However, there are actually more Android devices out there, according to the last numbers I’ve seen, but I don’t know much about them. I don’t use them so I think about apps that are on the iPhone.
When I just updated this site – the Authentic Storytelling Project – with a picture, I checked it on the iPhone. It works. Is it working on the iPad? Yes, it is. Is it working on an Android device. I don’t know. I assume so but I haven’t tested it, but it’s still important for us content producers and content strategist to think about all the channels that we personally don’t use. Just because I’m not using it doesn’t mean that other people aren’t using it.
For example web browsers, are a good example. A lot of people use Chrome. A lot of people use Firefox, and then a lot of people use Internet Explorer. Now, Internet Explorer had been the front runner and most people had used Explorer over recent years. The last numbers I’ve seen show that Internet Explorer is not the most used web browser anymore, but that also depends based on the site. Some sites, their users use Internet Explorer and some sites users use mobile devices mostly. Some sites might have somebody who uses Firefox. So whatever the features are that we use on our websites, on any channel that reaches the end consumer, whether it’s a business consumer or whether it’s an individual consumer we need to make sure that our content looks good on those devices and that it works and that it’s understandable and that it’s formatted correctly.
I’m thinking of the newspaper business. I used to work as a newspaper reporter for many years. I loved to read my stories on the front page. It was nice. It was kind of like a reinforcement by the editors that, that was a good story. The editors thought that readers would enjoy the story and it should be on the front page. It’s the most important story of the day or one of them at least.
But today if you ask me who I know that reads the newspaper, I’m not sure who does. We do not read the newspaper at home. The printed newspaper that is. We open up the app for the Gazette; the local newspaper here in Eastern Iowa, and we read it on there so I expect that content works in the app, Sometimes, I open it up in Safari. Very rarely do I open it up on an actual desktop computer. I usually read it on mobile or I read it on social media for example, but it needs to work on all those channels, but it’s very easy for us to only think of the channels that we use personally so how do you get around that.
I think the biggest thing is we have to keep an open mind. When we hear of user experiences that aren’t working, how do we address them? If somebody says, “This is not looking good on my Internet Explorer browser.” Then, we’ll say, “Well, let us take a look. Can you send me a screen shot, for example, and then you try to fix it. You try to make it work on all the different channels. Sometimes, you can’t really do it necessarily, but really you have to try so for example the latest trend in websites is responsive design.
You used to create a desktop version of your website. Then, you will create a mobile version if you’re thinking of mobile then you would say, “Well, mobile they are ‘on the go.’ They only want certain things. They want the phone number. They want the hours a business is open. They want your email. They don’t want all the content so mobile sites were totally different from the main site. They didn’t have all the same content and a lot of the times, you couldn’t even get to the same content from your phone.
Of course, this is also before some of the better smartphones that have come out in recent years, but that was kind of the thinking, but then that changed. Now, people use Smartphones, tablets anywhere. I use my Smartphone probably just as much sitting on the couch as I’m using it somewhere away from home. Hopefully, not walking and tripping and things like that, but I use it just as much as my personal computer as I use it on the go per say so that’s something to think about, but then the latest thing is responsive design so responsive design means that the website formats itself based on the end user’s screen so my website, this website for example, The Authentic Storytelling project.
It shows up on any device and it adjust itself automatically. No matter what device you’re coming from, you get the same content. I’m not giving you any less if you are on a smaller screen. I’m not giving you any more on a bigger screen, same content, just looks differently.
It’s kind of interesting actually when you pull it up on your iPhone, it’s actually the words of the header wrapping around. The ‘g’ of Authentic Storytelling is actually on the next line because it’s truly adjusting the content for my device so it make it fit. Sometimes, it doesn’t look as perfect as it could, but it does work.
The other thing is too, how do we keep all these channels in mind. Sometimes, it’s harder than others. The other day, I sent somebody a document that I’ve used for a number of different meetings in a number of different things and the document was four pages when it’s printed. Now, I hardly ever print anything. I don’t even have a printer at home. If I want to print something for personal use, I actually have to put it on my Google Drive and then I run down to Copyworks. I’ll print it there and pay whatever it is .15 cents or 10 cents, whatever the cost is per page to print. I don’t even have a printer so when this person said to me, “Okay, so this document is like four pages so that is not really short, but we’re trying to kind of get this really condensed information. How can you condense it down if it’s four pages printed? I was kind of stopped in my tracks for a second because I really, honestly hadn’t printed that document in who knows how long.
I didn’t have any plans to print it and I couldn’t even tell you how many pages it was. Maybe, potentially tell me how many words, it had, but I’m not even sure if I ever looked that up either. But when you printed it, it looked like a lot of content so I had to think about how do I cut that down so again the way you address is, you have an open mind. In my opinion, you listen. You find out how people use your content. You find out how people use devices and channels.
There are a lot of studies out there obviously, but also a lot of opinions. People use content and devices differently. The key is how do we make it work for them? How do we listen and especially how do we listen to the feedback on the channels that we don’t personally use? That is sometimes the hardest thing to do because this is what we do. Why would somebody not do what I do, right? So as a content strategist as you continue to think about how do share your stories on all these different channels. Keep in mind, not everybody uses the same tools and technology. How do you listen and reformat the content to get everybody the best user experience possible?