As part of our #fduCONNECT theme for 2019, our fourth guest blog by David Burton completes his exploration of  the differences between virtual and actual media in business, and how connection in real life still delivers more than virtual connection in most instances.

In my experience, the growth of virtual business communications has normalised some behaviours that can distance people from each other, may weaken trust relationships and potentially dilute established business practices to the extent that some markets have become distorted.

The first three differences I discussed were virtual media’s illusion of progress, the depersonalisation of personal relationships and the crowding out of important information.

Difference 4: Reaching Your Customers Is Simultaneously Easier And Harder

Virtual media can create a layer between buyers and sellers over which neither has control.

The ubiquity of social media means that most western companies will try to reach their customers or prospects through established content distribution platforms, especially where the significant power of marketing algorithms can target campaigns much more readily to specific demographic groups. It’s easy to use virtual media in your marketing to raise awareness of something, but all your work to turn this into action still lies ahead of you. Indirect campaigns reach more people with a smaller message, whereas direct campaigns reach fewer people with a larger message.

There is some evidence that a positive corporate social media profile can impact consumer perception of your organisation, however the reverse is also true of negative profiles. A good case in point was the 2014 NYPD twitter campaign that badly backfired when people with negative experiences freely shared photographic evidence.

 As digital advertising progressively replaces traditional, especially in the consumer sector, smaller businesses will find it hard to get their message heard above the collective the din of the many marketing campaigns competing for our attention. An SME can normally better target fewer customers in a market niche, but the larger brands have greater marketing budgets and more resources to enable greater reach but less influence on each consumer.

In conclusion then, Virtual Media is a powerful tool for establishing contact with a large audience where easy availability on mobile devices means that virtual media consumers receive many ‘shallow communications’. However actual media is also a powerful tool for building business relationships where you’ll receive fewer ‘deep communications’.

About the Author: David Burton is an experienced Group Finance Director with particular interest in business environments requiring turnaround or improvement. He has exercised governance or oversight over core Finance functions and operational delivery, including implementation of improved business processes, developing Global Operating Standards, setting group IT strategy, building a commercially viable SAAS portfolio and GDPR as a Data Protection Officer with experience of achieving ISO27001 certification. As a business partner to his fellow board members, David provides colleagues with usable advice and decision support acquired from timely & accurate MI, or managing business improvement interventions.

While both media serve a purpose, the boundaries can seem increasingly blurred, making it appear to business people, or those without deep resources, that there’s ultimately little real difference. However they should both be utilised concurrently for the best results, rather than in isolation.