Seriously. Stop it.
I know this is easier said than done because it feels good to use big words. You have worked your entire life developing an extensive vocabulary. You have gone through school and college honing your craft and now you are a communication professional. Using big words is how people can tell that you’re intelligent. They don’t need to see a degree or search online for your blog to realize you know your way around the English language when you use complex words. Not only have you earned the right to use big words by paying college tuition and spending your entire life practicing writing, but some big words just feel nice rolling off of the tongue. Believe me, I do sympathize with you. As tempting as it is, however, once you log into Twitter or Facebook as a “professional,” you have to cut it out.
Social media plays by different rules.
Here is why you need to play by them too:
You are trying to make friends
Don’t forget about the “social” aspect of social media. People connect to companies and organizations on social media because they want human interaction. If they wanted to read information and technical jargon, they would go to the company website. You are using social media to help your company bond with its consumers on a deeper level. People who go to a restaurant once and enjoy the taste will go back. What if a competitor opens up shop closer and the food is nearly the same quality? What is the incentive to drive further for a similar product? Now picture that the first restaurant has made an effort to make genuine and meaningful interactions with that consumer. That consumer will see that restaurant as her restaurant, her FRIEND. She will feel an emotional attachment to that restaurant. That brand loyalty will transcend that extra distance she has to drive. Isn’t that the goal?
But how do you make friends as a company?
Easy. You talk to people like they are your friends in real life. Picture having a conversation with your family. Do you use big words when you talk to your mother or sibling? Think about the vocabulary you use when you discuss the weather with a stranger at the bank or your local sports team with your friends. Those are the words you should be using. Treat your social media fans like friends and they will become friends. That is a pretty basic concept, but not everyone does it. People think it seems more professional to open a thesaurus and throw everything except the kitchen sink at their fans.
People don’t go on social media platforms to feel stupid
Social media is very tough for marketers to figure out. The truth is that there are millions of profiles across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and the other platforms. People only have so much time in a day, so there is a finite amount of profiles each person can keep up with. It truly is tough to make people care about your company enough to where they will follow your activity and want to respond to your messages. You cannot afford to push them away because they will not come back.
Fun fact: Insulting your followers’ intelligence pushes them away.
Many consumers didn’t go to college. Many consumers don’t claim to be the smartest people on the planet and are just hard-working people trying to provide for their families. The average consumer wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting down to with a snobby bookworm who forces his intelligence and worldliness down your throat every sentence.
Don’t be that person!
People don’t want to have to go to dictionary.com just to understand what you’re trying to tell them. They also don’t want to be in a position where they have to feel embarrassed because they think they are the only ones who don’t know a word. Maybe some people could figure out some of your big words with the context of the words around it. Maybe some people don’t want to. This isn’t a reading comprehension class. People are going on social media platforms for entertainment. They are interacting with their favorite brands and organizations because they want to. They’re not being paid. Remember that. Make them feel welcome and make them want to stay. Making them feel inferior with complicated words is the wrong method of communication, even if you aren’t meaning to do it.
You want to have your message received the way you intended
This one seems like common sense, but this is probably the biggest oversight social media professionals make.
If the rest of this article showed you anything, it is that it’s tough to get consumers interested in your social media profile and even harder to get them to stay. It takes a huge amount of work to get someone in the exact position where they can read your post that will inform them about something very important to your company.
Why would you then blow it by writing it in a way they can’t understand it?
Seriously, that’s like fishing for hours, then as soon you finally get a fish on the line, you just pull out some scissors and cut the line. Normal people don’t care about your industry’s jargon and they don’t want to know it. In the medical field, there are probably over a thousand different words for diseases, syndromes and medical tools. We never have to hear them. Can you imagine how many words chemists have that we have never even heard? How would you like it if you had to interact with your favorite candy bar brand through a jargon-using chemist? I wouldn’t and I don’t think you would either. Don’t put your audience in that position.
Social media is interesting in the fact that you could spend every second of every day and hypothetically never gain an ounce of influence. Yet, at the same time, someone else could spend 30 minutes per day and become an industry influence leader. Some of that is “right place, right time” but it is also controllable in some senses. Part of controlling that is keeping the fans you get. If you’re interacting with normal people, talk to them like you’re a normal person. It’s as easy as that. Talk about ROI, SEO and influence analytics at the social media conventions. Be a social human being on your social media profile.