Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

Image credit: graphicsfuel.com

Yesterday I was talking to a very talented, in-demand wedding photographer. She brims with creative energy, has a gorgeous website loaded with beautiful wedding photographs and an enviable order book. Looking at her website will make even the biggest pessimist want to get hitched tout de suite.

Then she made a confession with a slightly guilty look in her eyes:

I don’t really do anything with LinkedIn anymore. It’s all I can do to keep Facebook going, really.

Then she shot a glance around the table as if to see whether anyone was going to react with shock or disapproval.

Here are some of the things I share with my mentoring clients when social media come into the picture‎.

Why ‘doing’ social media can be counter-productive

A social media presence is not compulsory

Don’t believe all of the hype. Especially if you are tying yourself in knots trying to decide what you should do, and this starts to distract you from your business goals.

People have successfully built and expanded businesses for centuries before Twitter et al. came along.‎ Just saying.

Start by matching your social media choices to your confidence

Social media have only been around for give or take a decade (not counting papyrus rolls, that is). As a result of the emergence of new and potential engagement channels, the ‎social media landscape is constantly changing and developing.

Many consultancies have started to become very profitable by contributing to this innovation. They are out to prove a point, and are genuinely excited about social media, as you can imagine. Quite a few pump advice into the blogosphere which can be frankly intimidating for the uninitiated.

For new entrants onto the social media scene this can be bewildering. My advice to nervous newbies always is to do this in steps, and if it helps, stay close to what you know to begin with. Build your confidence from there.

Find out where your target audience hangs out and meet them there

Going back to my photographer friend: where do people share their wedding photos? Facebook, you betcha. For her, Facebook is also a great place to ask the question, ‘where else do you expect to find me?’. The answer is less likely to include LinkedIn than it isFlickr or Pinterest, but she will not know until she asks the question.

Write your own social media rule book

It’s OK to learn on the job here. There are some golden rules to help you avoid costly learning. Cherry pick your ‘experts’ and stick to those whose advice stretches your understanding, but doesn’t require Google Translate to make sense of it. The expert advice will always be on tap for you: go find it when you need more. 

First let’s get going and get some learning done about what does and doesn’t work for your business on social media.

Hold on to your chosen social media mantra

This is not a paper exercise. Use it as a measure to make sure what you do on social media is in line with your business goals and values. If one of your key ingredients is missing, don’t do it.

For example this one to help decide where on social media to be active:

Find your audience, find your voice, engage in the conversation.

This mantra reminds you to do your market research, match your messages to the platform (see 3) and not just tell your story, but to listen to theirs first.

What it boils down to…

Using social media has to be a help to you, not a worry.

Now I look forward to hearing some tales of your own. ‎What great insight you learned yourself would you add to the above?

Why you shouldn’t just ‘do’ social media

Jargon: losing or entertaining your audience?


The other day I was reading an article in The Marketer, the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. It’s an accessible publication, and pretty low on jargon too for a professional magazine. I am rather desensitised to marketingspeak in any case, so I probably have some blind spots when it comes to marketing jargon.

Nevertheless, when I came across an article on ‘growth hacking’ on page seven, I instantly felt annoyed. It said:

A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.

Apart from the fact that the above sentence says absolutely nothing (growth of what? Trees? Debt? Turnover?) it’s full of distracting language.

‘Hacking’ seems to be the latest term for what was once called going for ‘low hanging fruit’ or ‘quick wins’. It sounds cleverer because it has a whiff of the nerdy rather than managerial to it. A growth hacker then would be someone who cleverly starts by doing the things which need doing first to make sure they grow their success quickly and immediately. Old wine in new bottles?

‘True north’? Yep, this term is filed under T in The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary. It means business direction that leads to success.

Let’s translate that silly sentence then:

A growth hacker is someone who starts with the most important tasks first to achieve quick growth and whose business sense is one that leads to success.

Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it somehow. Perhaps jargon does serve a legitimate purpose, so let’s examine it a bit more closely.

Jargon is an exclusive language

Exclusive means keeping some people in and others out of the conversation. Using language that not all people in your audience understand filters out participants. This can be entirely acceptable, for example while testing someone’s knowledge during a formal exam or an interview.

However, if you need to take your audience with you, find out what language would be considered jargon and explain it along the way. You may be surprised what is and isn’t considered jargon! It is a great way to build trust and rapport with your audience even if you feel self-conscious doing it at first.

Using jargon is a bit like swearing

I can get very distracted by jargon which needs interpreting. Sometimes I suspect a presenter resorts to jargon because they need the security blanket of clever-sounding terminology to bolster their talk. Sometimes I think they just don’t have the words to explain what they really mean. When this happens jargon takes on the character and function of swearing: for a lack of language to express what we are really saying or because we are trying to hide something, we employ specialist language to throw our audience off the scent.

Jargon saves time

If its use doesn’t annoy the audience it can be elegant to use jargon. As the growth hacking example above illustrates, jargon can save time by cutting to the chase with a few well-chosen words. Very handy in the age of that 140-character microblog post, the noble tweet. Air traffic control jargon saves millions of lives each day because seconds really do count.

Jargon is creative use of language

Like swearing the use of jargon can be pretty creative and even funny at times. Some terms simply sum up what we think so imaginatively they can lighten up a situation. My personal favourite is the snottogram: the condescending missive sent via email because sender couldn’t possibly say what they had to say to the recipient’s face.

Now, what use of jargon are you ready to confess to? Entertain us in the comments box below.