Think Digitally: 7 Ways To Make Your Content Come Alive

digitalcomm The classic printed book, with roots going back to the Renaissance, is a centuries-long tradition of static, text-heavy documents that progressed in a linear fashion. Growing out of the physical reality of what came off the printing press, the nature of the printed word influenced our minds to take on its characteristics. But in the Internet Age its time to do things differently. The digital medium gives content developers more flexibility to explain and express ideas. Multimedia opens the doors to an increasingly engaging environment stressing visual appeal, openness as well as immediacy.

Have you made the transition to communicate like a digital native? Or are you still stuck in the Elizabethan era when if comes to sharing content?

Here are seven tips to help you think digitally. Today’s communications are not just about using new digital tools, but knowing how to use them to deliver a different experience with information than reading a page of text in a book.

Print-Based Media Digital Media Characteristics
Static Interactive/Dynamic
Text-heavy Visual
Linear Nonlinear
Defined entry point Multiple entry points
Dense Digestible
Broadcast Dialogue
Opaque Transparent
  1. Make it Interactive and Dynamic… Not Static

We’re no longer content with words sitting on a page. Digital natives don’t want to merely read about something, they want to experience it. New multimedia tools facilitate a bi-directional dialogue that engages as they inform. Users – not just readers anymore – are taking advantage of an assortment of new applications that personalize information. Interactive maps and tools that calculate numbers specific to the user’s needs are just a sampling of hands-on applications that make information gathering a more dynamic experience.

  1. People Respond Better to Visual, Not Text-Heavy

No one wants to read too much text. Dense paragraphs are like death sentences in the digital world, where information is increasingly communicated through visual means. Readers are naturally drawn to pictures and symbols. A smart infographic can often tell a story more efficiently than a 1,200 word article.

  1. Go Non-linear To Provide A More Customized Experience

Digital natives want to choose how to experience content on their own… and it’s usually not in a straight line. Users create their own paths to the information they want most – not depending on an author to direct them. Websites help facilitate this desire. Click on the information you want when you want it.

  1. Offer Multiple Entry Points

The users enter into an interface at a point of their choosing. We no longer have to start with the introduction and muddle through an obligatory “up front” discussion before getting to the meat. This feature is especially important in this era of social sharing of direct links and search as a starting point.

  1. Make It Digestible, Not Dense

Forget your 700-page tome; no one’s going to read it. Short, crisp and to the point is how digital natives like it. Boston Consulting Group’s Global Marketing Director Massimo Portincaso told me they no longer expect clients or prospects to consume 10,000 to 15,000 words in one sitting. Portincaso says they have to “pre-digest” some content to reduce intellectual capital to its key points. People prefer to read no more than 1,000 words at a time.

  1. Engage In Dialogue: Don’t Broadcast

Social media enables digital natives to engage in conversation if not debate. This is much more appealing than reading an edict written in stone. Interactive applications too, engage the reader in a way that feels more customized. Craft communications that speak directly to individuals; not anonymous groups of people.

  1. Make Your Message Transparent

Digital natives are big believers in transparency and, unfortunately for criminals and crooks, the Internet makes the world a more difficult place to hide. Be truthful and forthcoming. Don’t present yourself as something you are not.