Reason #7 Why Your Social Media Sucks: Jargon and Industry-Speak

26
Mar 2012

Welcome to our new series “Top 10 Reasons Why Your Social Media Sucks,” where we point out many common mistakes that prevent businesses from reaching the full potential of their social media marketing. Stay tuned for more missteps, errors, faux-pas, and boo-boo’s every Monday and Wednesday ’til the list runs out!

The Problem

TalkingSo far in our series, we’ve covered the mistakes of thinking social media’s all about youposting too often, and not posting often enough.

Now let’s take a look at how those posts are being written. 

Remember when you were a kid, and you and your best friend made up your own language? Obviously you both spoke the same tongue already, so why bother creating a new one? Sure, it was fun and a great bonding experience … but wasn’t the realreason that you could carry on entire conversations without anyone else understanding what you were saying?

Now that we’re all grown up (chronologically, anyway), jargon and industry-speak have taken the place of those childhood languages. Sure, jargon has legitimate purposes—it offers shortcuts for communicating complex ideas and creates a common bond among teams and departments—but it also alienates anyone who’s not in the know.

And when you’re trying to attract and retain customers on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, that alienation can be the kiss of death.

The Solution

Recently Dan Zarrella, that beloved Social Media Scientist, did his nerdy social analysis thing regarding language complexity and sharability on Facebook … and the results may surprise you:

graph

Zarrella’s research confirms what social media gurus have known for years: When it comes to social content, clear and simple sells.

And while reading grade level is the accepted standard for measuring readability, it actually has nothing to do with how well educated your audience is. What it does concern is our expectations when we’re taking in social content. When we’re glancing at a Twitter or Facebook feed that’s updating 10 times a minute, we don’t have time to process long words or winding sentences. We look for simple, easily grasped content that let us make a split-second decision to share it—or not—and that simplicity just happens to correspond to a 5th or 6th grade reading level.

So if you want your content to stand a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of being liked, commented on, or shared, can the big words and keep it simple.

Turnaround Tips

  • Before you click “Publish” for your next blog post or Facebook update, copy and paste your content into the WritingTester.com tool and see what reading grade level it works out to. If it’s over 6, go back and figure out how you can simplify your wording.
  • Check your Facebook Insights and blog analytics, and see which posts have yielded the best engagement results; you’ll probably notice that the most successful posts are the most simply written.
  • Ask friends or family members outside your field of expertise to review your posts and give you their feedback on any confusing jargon.
  • As always, ask your audience for feedback on your posts!

So, how do you and your team resist the siren call of industry-speak when writing your posts for your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social networks? Tell us in the comments—we’d love to hear from you!

Read earlier posts in the series:

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