Some communication tactics don’t neatly fit into any of these quadrant categories and share traits across two or more of them. Some examples that we’ll discuss today lie on the axes of the quadrants and span both like social media and webinars, while one spans all four categories, like product reviews. Hybrid communication methods like these provide the flexibility to achieve multiple communication goals simultaneously and access the best of those multiple worlds easily including measurements of success.
Let’s look at some examples starting with social media.
Social media is nothing more than typed rather than spoken conversation. Photos can replace word-based conversation elements. It originates on a digital platform, allowing posting and responding to be automated. However, in general, real, live people post and have conversations in real-time or over days and weeks. Bots exist, but even then, someone had to create the bot and the personality. This automated and in-person combination is why social media has the benefits of both automated and in-person conversations. People can view social media conversations at their leisure and participate—or not—as needed. Social media also allows people and organizations to be more accessible and more easily reached. Origin and location are no longer a limitation for reaching someone for direct communication. Where else but social media can a world leader or CEO easily communicate with your neighbor down the street? It is THAT powerful to facilitate conversations with anyone, anywhere.
Webinars or webcasts could be viewed at the user’s own time or broadcast live and recorded. The audience could be invited to ask questions real-time, before the seminar, or not at all. They could contribute to the experience, moving it to be an in-person experience category, or not, making it an automated, individualized digital experience. Depending on the interaction it spans a range across both quadrants, making it truly a little bit of each one.
You may be wondering where podcasts are in this diagram. I don’t have it included here but it really falls into the automated, individualized experience quadrant. You can listen to a podcast, but you can’t participate in creating the conversation in it. It is defined for you. However, if the podcast originates from a live radio show where the audience can participate, then it crosses into the in-person experience for the recording but moves back to the automated experience quadrant for listening. Technically, a live radio or broadcast show is a hybrid experience. In that case, a podcast is not just a conversation because the customer is having an experience of being on a live show and later listening to a show as a replay. It’s an experience, similar to a recorded live concert. In that case, you experience the music on your own or in a group with others and the recording is experienced later as an individual experience. The recording doesn’t allow for an exchange between the artist and the audience, while the live show does. In that way, a live show is an in-person experience. Both are very separate experiences of the same content—it’s not a hybrid.
Product reviews by customer and companies cover all four quadrants because:
Someone needed to experience the product or service in order to write the review (in-person experience). Experiencing a solution—a product or service—is an in-person experience.
There were MANY conversations before purchase and during its use (in-person conversation). There were also conversations to create the review. This review will spark conversations and conversations may occur from it. It may not directly be a conversation itself, unless the customer is on a panel discussion, but it captures many as a summary.
It can be used as a way to lead someone to another experience (automated conversation). It’s a type of automated conversation that tells you enough so you want to discover more information and have more experiences and conversations.
It is information that can be shared as a digital experience (automated experience), especially if it is recorded video or a written piece.
People love reviews because they can easily relate to the hero’s journey. And we like the hero’s journey because it really is an emotional journey—there is a problem or challenge, there is a search for a solution, the solution is tried, there are trials and tribulations, and then the problem is resolved but the person who had the experience is forever changed in some way, experiencing some life lesson. Customers can relate to the main character’s ups and downs on the journey to achieve change and in the end, understand what change feels like through this story device. It’s inspiring and encouraging for many to hear. It’s the ultimate delivery mechanism for content because it summarizes someone’s experience, which encourages you to have your own, it sparks conversations, and you can access it on your own time.
These four methods with the customer relationship lifecycle can help you build a relationship with your customers and ultimately achieve your communication goals. And understanding the goals of these types of tactics can help you better engage with customers.
However, knowing the possibility that hybrids exist in this quadrant system can allow for greater brainstorming and creativity to develop new communication approaches. You may need to include both an automated experience that is intended for single person use and interaction with in-person conversation. And that’s fine! You can mix and match and develop new ideas and combinations to discover the right tactic to achieve your goals. We sometimes don’t like to consider it, but structure gives us the room to create. You can draw freeform but you can’t color outside of the lines if there are no lines.
Hope this was helpful! Thanks, and have a great day!
At-a-Glance Summary of the Four Quadrants
Automated, Digital Individualized Experiences
Potential Content Creators
Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (analyst firms, review and content creation companies), press, potentially customers
Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (search engines, social media, chatbot companies)
Customers and influencers unlikely
Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (call centers), customers
Mainly companies and third-parties (event hosting companies, analyst firms, store fronts)
Less likely: customers, influencers (e.g. Meetups)
Customer discovers general information
Customer finds information that solves their problem
Customer gets referred to a person or resource
Customer discovers specific information that solves their problem
Employee can connect emotionally with the customer
Customer discovers how a product or service could help him or her
Employee can connect emotionally with the customer