“Status Update = No Change” is valuable information….

The internet’s voracious appetite for content demands constant new “stuff”, and the hunger for status updates in social media apps means that we are constantly feeding the beast. But the frequency and nature of information updates should be relevant to our audience, appropriate to the content and suitable to its purpose.

Even when there is little of substance to say about our quotidian activities, we feel compelled to offer half-baked, homespun homilies as an indication of our “status”, or as ultimate proof of our existence. Just because the technology enables us to record our lives nanosecond by nanosecond, it doesn’t mean we should be broadcasting everything (and nothing) that happens.

A while back, I was working with a client to develop an information updating service for banking regulations. Our challenge was two-fold:

1. Some regulations changed frequently (but irregularly), and some rarely changed (if at all)

2. Subscribers expected regular updates linked to a fixed publishing schedule (even if there was nothing new to report)

How could we manage the subscribers’ expectations, and maintain a credible updating service?

As it happens, in addition to being a bank regulator, my client also held a private pilot’s license. He subscribed to a service that provided the latest maps and information on flight paths to numerous small airfields. For him, sometimes the most important and valuable information was knowing that there was “no change” at the airfield he was flying to, so he didn’t have to amend his navigation charts prior to his journey, as he knew he always had the latest information.

Our solution for the banking regulations? Publish substantive content updates (including “no change” confirmations) each quarter, with interim news bulletins as and when required. When contemplating how much and how often to communicate with your audience, sometimes letting them know that there is “no change” can be valuable information in itself.

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