The Trappings of Shiny Object Syndrome

A very astute colleague recently asked me, “What is the most frequent communication council Carroll & Company provides?” After thinking about it for a moment, I said, “Communication is an investment. To determine the return on your investment, decisions about whether to produce a YouTube video, email campaign or other tactic need to be grounded in more than a ‘gut feeling’ or what another organization did.”

 Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny object syndrome is an ‘affliction’ that frequently effects business owners and other organization leaders who are distracted by the latest and greatest tool, technology or idea. I get it. It’s cool. It’s sexy. It’s cutting edge. It’s a potential game-changer. And, when the “shiny object” is a communications tool, tactic, or technology, it may help you cut through the noise and get your message heard. 

The Risks

I know. Buzz kill. Still, business and organization leaders have a responsibility to look at the potential risks of adopting the latest technology or communication tactic. For example,

  1. Does the new tactic align with your brand? How do you know? If it doesn’t align with your brand, you risk losing brand equity (and sales) by turning off your target audience.
  2. If you are considering a communications channel, Snapchat for example, is this a space where your target audience is active? Again, how do you know?
  3. What communication goal will the new technology or communications tactic help you achieve? How?
  4. How much will it cost to implement the new technology or tactic? Could the money be put toward another tactic or channel more targeted to your audience or message?

Don’t get me wrong. Successful businesses must be risk-takers willing to take advantage of new opportunities. A global economy with 24/7 connectivity also means risky decisions often must to be made quickly. All the more reason to have the data at your fingertips to quickly make  informed decisions about communication opportunities that come your way.

The Litmus Test

Effective, evidence-based communication starts with a well-vetted plan and basic research to ensure everyone understands the end goal you are working to achieve. A communication plan also becomes the litmus test for evaluating new communication opportunities that come your way while helping you avoid shiny object syndrome.