Using online media for your business

Taduuda on Themba Jay
Image: Taduuda /

Writing this post, I’ve just had to throw my mind back to the days when television was introduced – of course, I was not born yet, but thanks to information being abundantly available, I read up on media history. And, it’s fascinating a subject!

As is the case with most new things, most people were sceptical of the value a little box with moving visuals could add to their lives. The way they marketed their businesses; the way they consumed knowledge and even, their entire perspective of the world. As humans, we have a history of dismissing things we don’t understand (until, of course, they eventually prove us wrong).

When the iPhone was released in 2007, Apple Inc. was attacked . . . by a slew of experts writing for reputable publications. First, the hefty price tag it commanded was a huge problem; the device being keyboard-less didn’t make sense for the reviewers who argued that consumers were accustomed to thumbing physical keypads. Again, this speaks to our being uncomfortable with change.

It would seem that without a gun pressed against our heads – when we have no choice but to transform – there often isn’t movement to embrace change.

Now, with the television, the world eventually accepted it as a great medium of telling stories.

. . . fast-forward the clock to two centuries later, it’s clearly becoming less important. The internet is taking over (or has taken over) how we consume media and most importantly, how we tell our stories to the world. And as history is prone to repeating itself, there are scores of people who are sceptical about the power of the internet, social media platforms, and how these tools can play a pivotal role in the running of businesses, attaining education and building relationships without geographical restrictions.

I believe our mindset needs to change toward this form of media. This is how we do it . . .

  • Take online media seriously

Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, YouTube, et cetera, are modern day television channels and newspapers; in as much as there’s the cartoon network, wild-life channel and others, social media platforms act as those channels today. Newspapers and magazines have had to change their business models and move online, because that’s where the world spends most if its time. (The Harvard Business Review has pulled this off wonderfully, successfully monetising their content in an age where information is largely free.)

This is a serious transition, and it needs to be taken as seriously because it holds vast untapped potential and there are many financial and educational opportunities to be created at the back of this transition. However unnerving it may be.

  • Provide Value With Your Storytelling

People love stories because they are emotional and thus resonate – this is well known. But, what we seem to have a hard time understanding is that unlike radio or television, social media platforms differ considerably. This environment dictates that we engage in a genuine conversation with our friends, customers, employees, et cetera, and not blindly push out buy my services stories all the time.

You know, a beautiful thing occurs when you start to care about your audience. When you seek to add value with the stories you publish – this could be through educational content, humour, sharing knowledge about things you’re well versed in or simply documenting the day-to-day journey of your life. Value and care far outweigh any sales-y message. We’re likely to connect with someone who cares about how we are, what we care about – we almost automatically become fond of people who want to see us win.

Marketing through stories, digitally, is not, how I can put it . . . a one–night–stand! It’s more like committing to building a deeper and long-term relationship with the people to whom you want to tell your stories.

For a long time now, I’ve seldom come across Apple stories online that aim to only sell, sell and sell. Instead, I’m always delighted by their insistence on telling me emotional stories about their products – how a MacBook Air, for instance, is an extension of my creative work, a partner in creating beautiful writing work. They bathe their products in compelling stories!

Now, let’s start accepting that the world lives online and that even though that’s the case, we are still human and we respond to genuine care and well crafted stories.