I’ve been writing a lot about strategy in this series on message planning. When you enter the execution stage and start to plan your individual messages that support your strategies, it helps to think about the results and performance you plan to achieve with each message. I think it’s useful to go through the exercise of planing the ideal action, reaction, interaction or transaction you might produce in response to each message.
I’ve used this model before to plan a message calendar for a specific platform – like Twitter or Facebook. While part of the process is developing content based on the interests and preferences of the audiences you’ve identified through your audience targeting exercises, the other part is developing some micro-level goals for the individual messages you plan to share over the course of your calendar. This is where the action, reaction, interaction and transaction exercise comes in. Using this process will force you to think not only about coming up with fantastic content ideas, but also to think through what you hope will happen as the result of sharing that awesome content.
Let’s take a quick look at how modeling your messages after these four simple, but powerful, words can help you get more specific and deliberate about what you want to happen as a result of sharing your messages with your target audiences. This bonus post in the series also serves as a nice transition to the next planned post in the series on message mapping – planning your messages specific to the carefully segmented audiences groups you’ve developed, and your need to communicate with these audiences across each stage of your relationship with them.
- Action – what action do you want your audience to take from the specific message you are sending them? If you tweet a link to a landing page, a coupon or some interesting piece of content you feel like sharing, what action are you hoping the recipient will take? Do you want them to retweet it? Do you want them to click the link and fill out the form? Are you looking for engagement – a reply or some other feedback as the desired action? Answering these questions not only help you identify the goal of your message, but also help you to develop the message. Once you know the action you’re looking to generate, it’s much easier to craft the message itself. Maybe the action is simply that the recipient will read (and remember) the message five minutes from now.
- Reaction – you could say the action you want the recipient to take is the same thing as the reaction the recipient has. I beg to differ. I think the reaction they have is completely separate to the action he/she takes after reading your message (or watching it, listening to it, etc.). The reaction is the emotional response to the stimuli you’ve provided – the message. When you share your message, what reaction are you hoping for? Are you hoping they’ll click the “Like” option on your Facebook post, because they loved it? That’s an ACTION based off their REACTION. A good example of this in action can be found in watching any of the Google Chrome ads or Procter & Gamble’s “Mom” Olympics spots. Both campaigns really tug at the heart strings – and if your reaction was anything like mine – left you feeling good about the brands that put that content out there for our collective enjoyment. I can only assume the reaction these brands hoped to achieve with that content was to make me feel good about their brands. It worked. What reaction are you hoping your audience will have to your content?
- Interaction – I really don’t think I can say this enough about modern communications planning – you’re not communicating TO an audience anymore, you’re communicating WITH your audience. As such, what interaction are you hoping to achieve with your content. You want a conversation – through conversations, your relationship grows and strengthens. The stronger your relationship with your audiences, the more successful all your interactions will be. What conversations do you want to generate – stemming from your audiences’ action and reaction to your content? Take the Procter & Gamble commercial I shared in the “reaction” bullet. Procter & Gamble has invited it’s community (viewers of its video on YouTube) to join in the conversation and share their stories about gratitude for “Moms” – or for moms to share their stories about what being a mom means to them. This is a great extension of the content they’ve shared – they are facilitating a conversation that reinforces the overarching goal of the campaign. I’m making some assumptions here, but it’s safe bet that it was part of the goal of the campaign. Look at both the positive and negative side of the interaction equation when planning your messaging. It’s easier to assume the positive feedback you might receive from sharing your messages, but what potential negative reaction could you encounter? Plan for the negative in advance – if it happens, be prepared to deal with it head-on. Interaction gives you the opportunity to work through the issues your audiences may have. They’ll respect you for it in the end, if you’re honest and actually care about what they think and say.
- Transaction – transaction is not a bad word. It’s okay to make money in business – I’m pretty sure that’s what business is all about. While planning for action, reaction and interaction is important, it should all build on one another to ultimately produce a transaction. Whether directly or indirectly, all content you produce either moves your customers closer or farther from a transaction. In some types of business, the line between content and transaction is shorter than others. If you sell t-shirts, simply posting a picture of your new design and linking to a landing page where customers can order the shirt might be all it takes to generate new sales. If you sell cars, you’re probably not going to sell a car directly from a tweet on a regular basis. You might be able to get people to request more information on your car, which gets them into your sales funnel and moves them along toward a transaction – which is a start. I find it’s helpful to at least think about the transaction you hope you can generate from your communications efforts. This frames the conversation and might uncover new, unique ways to engage your audience without interrupting them and forcing them to view your sales-oriented content. The real magic happens when you’re able to positively impact transactions without directly selling to your audience. Understanding the linkage between your messaging and commerce is not for the faint at heart. It takes a lot of work, a lot of measurement, and a dedicated effort to understanding how audiences act, react and interact with you before they transact.
I hope you found this point of view helpful in your message development planning. The next time you’re planning out a message calendar for one of the platforms you use, map the message across these four components to see if you can generate some new ideas or goals for how you can improve (or measure) the performance of your content as it relates to action, reaction, interaction and transaction.
What do you think? Is this a helpful exercise for developing more effective messages? Did I leave a step in the process out? Please share your thoughts on this post below.