In my last two blogs I wrote about what the terms "social" and "mobile" mean within the digital signage industry. Today I'll complete the social-mobile-local trilogy by focusing on the "local" aspects of workplace communication.
To get an idea of what local is and why it's important, let's take a step back and look at the reason managers want digital signage in the first place. The primary reason that digital signage is installed is to influence minds and behavior, whether that means selling more soda pop or getting employees to work more safely. In either case, the idea is to put messages in front of viewers that will get them to pay attention and buy into whatever they're seeing.
What "local" means today
For advertisers, "local" means increasing the use of proximity-type marketing using techniques such as Bluetooth, geo-fencing and near field communication, or NFC, to get customers engaged with a store, restaurant or product. While those ideas will eventually matter in the workplace, for now the technology both on the employer and employee side is not there. However, the concept of local is still very important.
For workplace communicators, local means posting content that matters to the viewer. A typical problem for enterprise digital signage installations is that all the content is generated by an HQ location and distributed to all of the company locations. Without a local manager or administrator being able to post content, these systems often amount to "Corporate-TV," which local employees soon learn to ignore because they feel there's nothing in it for them. So these companies can ironically end up with a multimillion-dollar digital signage system that looks fabulous but has no effectiveness.
This is where local comes in. To make these systems effective, they must have some relevance and interest to the viewer (i.e., the employee). It's very important that digital signage admins strategize on what that would mean for their company, and then come up with a regular implementation schedule to do audience-targeted content.
Making the message personal
Local content can fall into two broad categories: information pertinent to the location in general or to the company and employees in particular. Examples of the former are news feeds from the local newspaper or TV station, or an RSS feed from the local sports team. For the latter, examples could include personnel items such as employee of the month, birthdays, etc. Or they could be about local company information such as work schedules, production or safety metrics, blood drives and company events.
Managers often look at these local items as secondary or even "fluff." But ignoring local content will significantly lower readership of the digital signage, thereby crippling the ability of those same managers to get employees to read the corporate info — which was their reason for installing digital signage in the first place.
Frank Kenna III is CEO and President of The Marlin Co., which helps improve safety, employee morale, productivity and performance through its workplace digital signage products. He is responsible for setting the companys strategic direction and developing new ideas to help implement workplace communication programs.