Crown MD Nicky Havelaar blogs about atomised events, starting with your employees.

‘Atomisation’. It’s a cumbersome word, but I rather like it. It’s what a US agency - Code and Theory - have been talking about (though they spell it wrong, of course, with a Z).

Like all marketing concepts, they make it a little more complex than it need be. And I think they (and we) may be missing a trick. Here’s why ...

Broadly, atomisation describes the massively fragmented world we inhabit. Instead of everyone sharing the same experience, developments like on-demand, multiple platforms, digital catch up and other time-shifting phenomena mean none of us see the same thing at the same time in the same way as anyone else.

That creates a head-scratching dilemma for marketing people, but folk like Code and Theory (crazy name, crazy guys?) offer to guide their clients through this atomised world. They explain how to use social media and a range of funky new approaches to reach customers.

But here’s the missing bit.

Like almost every thought leader, guru and innovator, the agency focuses on how digital is changing how we reach the customer. That’s of great importance, of course. But who’s the conduit to a customer? The face of the brand? And arguably, therefore, the primary audience when it comes to your marketing, communication and technological innovation?

Your employees. They’re people, targets and customers too.

So when Code & Theory talk about ‘form-fitting’ all content to different audiences, I wonder if they are thinking about employees. When they talk – intelligently - about constantly adapting and updating different platforms (“audience journeys are looping, rather than linear”), I see opportunities for staff engagement. And when they evangelise about Atomization (sorry, Atomisation) being driven by social media, I get excited by the opportunity to drive face-to-face events through social media, rather than pay it lip service as so often happens at live events.

So yes, I like this idea of an atomised, fragmented world, where we can adapt messages to platforms, media and audiences, but let’s start with employees. Let’s stream content to them from management events. Let’s replace the cascade with real-time social media updates building trust. Let’s take localised content and distribute it to a much wider atomised workforce.

I believe that the employees attending a staff, management or leadership event should be set an objective to fully subscribe and embrace the atomisation of the key message so carefully crafted for the occasion.

If you don't know how to do it ask your colleagues or staff!

Set up Snapchat so people back at the ranch request what to raise whilst they are listening to an audio cast of the keynote speaker and/or panel session. Or instantly share images from meetings with their colleagues (“Check out this ad”; “Look how they do things in Poland”). Contribute to the Facebook page specific to the event; take part in live interviews or post your own video on the dedicated YouTube channel; Skype your colleagues; let them listen in on a workshop or listen to a famous guest speaker etc. 

Of course a prerequisite is that both the experience and content are relevant and interesting. Empower your audience to take ownership of the cascade of stories and messages. Don't make your colleagues wait to receive a sanitised PPT afterwards.

After all, a huge amount of work and money goes into a gathering: why not distribute it as widely as possible, so that all employees are on board, ready to act as brand ambassadors?

Wouldn’t that be truly Atomic?

References: Atomization (2016) Code and Theory http://www.codeandtheory.com/things-we-make/atomized-branding

This was originally published on LinkedIn.