Communicate how you want to communicate

Have you noticed how many apps want you to share your 24 hour time-bombed story? Snapchat started trend. Take a picture or a short video of what you’re doing now. Add it to your story and your contacts will be able to open it and watch a slideshow of your pictures and videos. But it’s only available for 24 hours. Great idea. The format sat between live broadcast and archived videos. 24 hour stories grew in popularity.

Other popular social media platforms began to add the Story feature, providing this format to prevent users from moving to Snapchat. Instagram added them, adding a “live-now” twist. Facebook Messenger and Facebook added stories, as if they are trying to out-do themselves. Or was it that to cover all bases within their investments? Whatsapp have Stories. The latest to join the storytelling guild is Skype, reinventing itself and encouraging you to share your time-bombed stories with those that you… well… Skype.
Which platform do we share our stories on if we use more than one of these platforms? Do you consider the platform that most of your contacts are communicating, choose one platform and stick with it? That is, till your contacts move to another platform. Do you post your story multiple times to multiple platforms? Do you post the full story to one platform and create a post in all the other platforms with a link to the original post?

Where should I communicate?

The same questions present themselves when we need to communicate and collaborate at work. We have so many tools to choose from that we default to the old faithful email, even if it’s not the right tool for the task.  We know that the rest of the world uses email. Our line of business applications and automated business processes use email too, for notifications. Notifications that incessantly increment the unread message counter, keeping our Inbox rules busy with redirection to folders. We are overusing email for this purpose and communications with contacts are concealed by copious notifications we struggle to keep up with.

Emailed notifications are one of the drivers for moving to other collaboration and communication platforms to get work done. Like a project team relocating to another room to focus on work, we move away from our Inbox to platforms that focus our communication on the project. We leverage document collaboration and task management. In some platforms, we hold meetings and make calls. By setting time aside in these virtual spaces away from email, we help our teams get their focus back and we get more work done.

If you’re using multiple platforms, where do you go to read all your messages? The answer lies on smart phones.  The Notification Center is the new Inbox. Applications display notifications from the various apps we communicate from. We check our notifications and are taken into the app to use all that is available to us in the app. We then use the “Inbox” of the app and work our way through the messages and return to the Notification Center to check our other apps. The OS aggregates the notifications. This is the new Inbox. The burden sits with the OS to provide an efficient way to read notifications from the apps and draw us into the app to respond to messages.

The flip side to this shift is that we have to learn how to use these new platforms. Then we have to learn how to manage our notifications on the OS’s and devices we use. You can see why some of us prefer to keep using email, rather than adapting to these new ways of communicating and working. Then there are those entering and already in the workforce that have grown up adapting to the different social media and communication platforms. In this, they are highly adaptive and network in multiple places. Switching between communication platforms is no different to holding meetings in different rooms or locations. Due to the virtual nature of the platforms, they can quite literally be in more than one place at a time. However, this can be distracting and lowers the focus on the current task at hand.

There is a middle ground between being overloaded with all communication in your Inbox, and being hyper-connected to every social media and communication platform. We don’t need to be connected to every platform. Only the platforms and tools our work group chooses to use.  Before defaulting to any platform, talk and agree on the best way to communicate as a work group. Think about the pace and frequency of communication for the work group. Think about how much time members will be dedicating to the work group during their week. Come up with a communication plan for the work group that recognizes the way you work, and the way you will need to work. Then choose your platform(s).

Remember that when the project is complete or when it’s time to move on from that work group, it’s OK to disconnect from the group. The communication and content will still be there to connect to again, if you ever have the need to. In some platforms, you can remain connected to the group and unfollow, unsubscribe or remove as a favourite. This can stop most of the notifications but usually means the group is still easily accessible to proactively check conversations.

So what am I going to do with all these social networks where I can tell my story? I’ll probably post to one or two where most of my contacts and audience live and link to those posts from other channels. But I’m not going to stress about sharing my story on every social media platform I use. I’ll speak in the room that I’m in, to the people who are there – if you follow me. Follow my meaning, that is 🙂


Also published on Medium.