Niko­lay Mal­yarov

EVP, Chief Con­tent Of­fi­cer and Gen­eral Coun­sel

The Insider - - NEWS - @mal­yarov

Two years ago I wrote that 2016 should be “The Year of the Per­son” be­cause I be­lieved that ev­ery busi­ness and me­dia ex­ec­u­tive needed to put the per­son at the top of their agenda and in­ti­mately un­der­stand them as in­di­vid­u­als — their per­sonal as­pi­ra­tions, pref­er­ences, pas­sions, con­tent choices, and con­sump­tion habits — if they ever hoped to have a prof­itable re­la­tion­ship with them.

“The Year of the Per­son” was also the over­ar­ch­ing theme that in­spired all of us at PressReader to fo­cus on de­liv­er­ing the right con­tent to the right per­son at the right time in the right for­mat across the right chan­nels at the right price.

This year, I be­lieve we all need to fo­cus on forg­ing an even deeper re­la­tion­ship with the

per­son through en­gage­ment.

En­gage­ment is an in­ter­est­ing word. Con­ven­tion­ally de­fined as “a prom­ise to wed,” en­gage­ment was seen as the next step to­wards a much longer and more in­ti­mate con­nec­tion with some­one who once started out as just an ac­quain­tance. Tra­di­tion­ally it was as­sumed to be a “death do us part” com­mu­nion re­gard­less of its mu­tual ben­e­fits to ei­ther party, but in today’s so­ci­ety very few re­la­tion­ships last that long.

The same is true in busi­ness; peo­ple are no longer quick to pledge undy­ing com­mit­ment and loy­alty. Con­sumers not only have very high ex­pec­ta­tions of the goods, ser­vices, and con­tent they buy, they ex­pect to be heard, re­spected, and val­ued by the pro­ducer. Not just at the time of sale, but through­out the en­tire life­time of the re­la­tion­ship. If they don’t get what they want, they walk away and rarely look back.

In Oc­to­ber 2017, Forbes an­nounced the 50 Most En­gaged Com­pa­nies in the world. Ama­zon, un­sur­pris­ingly, topped the list, fol­lowed by Google. A num­ber of pro­gres­sive air­lines, ho­tels, and re­tail­ers also made the grade — those who demon­strated a com­mit­ment to per­son­al­iz­ing the travel and shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for their fre­quent fly­ers/guests/ cus­tomers.

These 50 busi­nesses know how to be suc­cess­ful on this peo­ple-pow­ered planet. They un­der­stand that we have to con­nect with peo­ple per­son­ally, cul­ti­vate trust with them, and build a foun­da­tion upon which we can en­gage with them at an even deeper level.

They know that en­gaged in­di­vid­u­als are not the pas­sive con­sumers of past decades. Rather, they are ac­tive par­tic­i­pants in the cre­ation of value. They share the re­spon­si­bil­ity of nur­tur­ing the brand­con­sumer re­la­tion­ship by ful­fill­ing each other’s needs, join­ing in con­ver­sa­tions and de­ci­sion-mak­ing, and pro­vid­ing hon­est feed­back and sup­port.

These com­pa­nies also rec­og­nize that en­gage­ment isn’t a thing, an act, an event, or a so­cial me­dia ac­count for one-way con­ver­sa­tions. It’s a living and breath­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, like a dance where it takes two to tango.

En­gage­ment is also not a statis­tic. It can­not be mea­sured by the num­ber of unique vis­i­tors to a web­site or fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia. It’s mea­sured by the amount of time an in­di­vid­ual chooses to spend with us and what we pro­duce. It’s mea­sured in the amount of ef­fort a per­son makes in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with us and our staff, the amount of con­tent they post on our sites, the hon­est feed­back they pro­vide, and the re­fer­rals they gen­er­ate on our be­half.

There are so many tech­nolo­gies today that can help fos­ter en­gage­ment. Think ma­chine learn­ing, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, mes­sag­ing apps, chatbots, and smart data (yes, it’s big, but the more im­por­tant at­tribute should be how smart we are about it).

All these tech­nolo­gies bring chal­lenges and re­quire us to adapt quickly with the ever-in­creas­ing ve­loc­ity of in­no­va­tion and be­hav­ioral changes. But, have we ever stopped to think that just 20 years ago it would be vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble for us to reach, and have our con­tent and ser­vices be dis­cov­ered by bil­lions of peo­ple?

The in­ter­net made all that pos­si­ble while dis­cern­ing con­sumers helped the cream of the crop to rise to the top. And although the web opened the door to fraud, copy­right in­fringe­ments, piracy, and dis­rup­tive in­ter­me­di­aries (e.g. on­line travel agen­cies), new tech­nolo­gies (e.g. blockchain) are poised to fa­cil­i­tate trans­parency, sim­plify set­tle­ments be­tween third par­ties and busi­nesses, elim­i­nate fraud, and en­sure fair com­pen­sa­tion for con­tent cre­ators and ser­vice providers.

2018 is look­ing to be a very ex­cit­ing year in terms of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments and the deeper en­gage­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties they bring to the brand-per­son re­la­tion­ship. I hope you’ll join me in a New Year’s res­o­lu­tion to em­brace all tech­nol­ogy has to of­fer and en­gage at a more per­sonal level with the peo­ple who are the lifeblood of our busi­nesses.

Happy New Year!

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