Mind your language

I’m going to get all controversial again so am preparing to lose some followers.

I follow over 500 people now. Many of whom are involved in digital communications, whether that be PR, marketing, communications, seo or social media. They all “get” the medium but there’s a huge difference in how they do, in terms of language.

Social media is a large playing field. It covers a vast array of digital networking tools, each with its own parameters and, to an extent, set of linguistic rules. When you visit Facebook people speak relatively normally for instance but on Twitter, the prevalence of multiple hashtags, @s and shortened links make it pretty much impossible to read for the uninitiated.

Therein lies the problem. For the most part you’re going to find that your audience IS the uninitiated. If your latest tweet looks like this:

@you @him @ her tx for RT. Check out http://bit.ly/aThhYU #blogchat #sm #smpr

you’ve got a problem. I know what it means (I made up the bit.ly link btw) but i can guarantee that more than half of your audience will be new to this and won’t understand that at all. They will most likely look at it, get a headache, and leave Twitter forever.

Make a point of paying attention to language in your tweets. Wherever possible I keep it human readable so it doesn’t end up looking like the raw data of The Matrix.


7 thoughts on “Mind your language

  1. Showing your age there Barry – didn’t the mass media say the same with text speak and the ‘yoof’ of today.

    The issue lies in all walks if life -acronyms are a pain in the arse unless you know what they mean – at least Twitter has a damned good excuse for using them with its limitation on text. Surely people would grasp that with only 140 characters available, they would need to shorten things and some of these are going to be new?


    1. Textspeak is no use for marketing generally unless you’re aiming squarely at ‘yoof’. My mum can’t speak text so it’d be no use trying to get a message to her using that medium. Twitter has a 140 character limit which means you have to be creative in your message rather than shorten a longer one at the risk of alienating people.

      And I’m young at heart thanks very much.

  2. Good point Barry.

    It’s refreshing to read an article about social media that focuses on the practical rather than prattling on about the theory. A lot of people are caught up in the technicalities and lose sight of the most important thing, which as you point out, is communication with the customer / audience.

    Tweets which are confusing to your audience are the equivalent of not making eye contact or a limp handshake, you’re off to a bad start before you even begin.

  3. Txt spk is rly nt kl 4 a bus 2 b usn.

    Is that even right? Great points here Barry, any content has to be digestible by the user no matter what their experience level in that outlet is.

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