All hail the word

I recently adopted the word ‘juicy’ from and today I got my very own certificate.  It’s part of a campaign by the charity ‘I Can’, celebrating the importance of the word and designed to raise much needed funds for children with speech, language and communication difficulties.

With my certificate, I got a lovely book that tells me how to look after my word through feeding, grooming and exercising. It got me thinking about how important written words are today for individuals and businesses using digital platforms. In this space, words have become a valuable currency. Here’s why I think this is the case:

  1. Search dominates spend: You only have to look at the size of the search industry to understand the value of the simple word to brands today. IAB research reports that search dominates total Internet marketing expenditure, representing 46% of all US online spend in Q4 2008. An effective search strategy enables brands to be found in the long-tail of web content and is now critical to business success across many industries. It has been one of the strongest growth areas in the recession, because of its ROI.
  2. Creating dialogue: Some of the most heavily populated websites are based on dialogue between like-minded individuals. Words are the common currency on social networks and no more so than on Twitter, a platform whose very core lies on posting 140 characters. Twitter is now a highly valuable tool for businesses large and small. Key examples include: Dell, Zappos. Dell claims to have made in excess of $3 million sales from its Twitter operation. By contrast, Zappos uses it as a customer service tool, building “personal and emotional connections” as quoted in the Mashable! article.
  3. Word of mouth: Very much linked to the last point. Social media can be leveraged to create a buzz for a brand, often at little media cost. The success of the Tourism Australia’s ‘Best Job In the World,’ which won several Cannes Lions this year, has no doubt got many marketers wondering how they can do the same.
  4. Digital persona: People too are buying into the power of words (and search). A simple search for an individual on Google can tell you a lot about a person, linking to Facebook, LinkedIn and other relevant social networks. Our ability to customize platforms to our names is empowering the branded individual. In turn, we are actively relying on these platforms to build our digital persona, to find love, jobs and build our career.

I think Clay Shirky hits the nail on the head in his book ‘Here Comes Everybody’ with this statement: “Content is not king, conversation is.” Surely, in this era, the importance of the written word will become ever more important. Good news for all the copywriters out there.

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