Social media gurus: Have mercy on the lowly communicator: Cut the crap, please?
CEO Mark Ragan makes an impassioned plea on behalf of his jargon-hating readers.
To: Social media gurus
Re: Stop making up language. It's hurting my brain
From: PR pros and internal communicators
We love you. You know we do.
You have done so much for the industry. You write research reports that change how we look at our communication strategies. You provide statistics we can use to persuade our starchy bosses to embrace new media. Most of all, you motivate us by showing us where the world is heading.
But can you STOP creating new jargon and corporate speak? You meet with senior executives at our companies and get them all pumped up. You know CEOs. They love this stuff. But after you board that plane back to the Silicon Valley, you leave us behind to clean up the mess. Our bosses worship you, and they begin speaking like you. But we have to pass their messages down to employees and they hate this stuff. And without them, we're sunk.
So, we’re begging you, please stop making this crap up.
We know jargon serves a purpose for you. You need big, vague words like "holistic" in order to sound as if you have some inner knowledge; you need a new word to justify the consulting gig. If you merely make the point that corporate messages have to be consistent across all media, it sounds too simple. Holistic makes the potential client think, "I don't really understand what you're saying, so maybe you know more than me." That, in turn, leads to a new contract.
Now comes our list of words and phrases that make us retch. Sorry, but you've squeezed the life from them.
1) Convergence. If we hear this again, we're all going to converge on YOU. And it won't be pretty.
Just say what you mean, to wit: Messages no longer depend on one communication channel. Social media and Web 2.0 allow us to take a message and spread it through video, Twitter, Facebook and traditional print publications. Please, just say that.
2) Holistic. Ye gods, we don't know where to begin. This word is so 1990s. It makes us think of Deepak Chopra, not social media.
3) Time bond. Ok, we give up. It makes our chakras hurt to even attempt a translation.
Dear Ragan readers—help us! Make something up for this buzzword and place it in the comments section below. Ragan will give you a FREE registration to its Social Media Summit in Las Vegas if you come up with the wackiest description.
4) Socialize. Mark Ragan once gathered his staff to listen to a communications consultant from the largest agency in the universe. This guy made more money in a single hour than Mark does all week. He pitched him an idea only to hear this response (and he’s NOT making this up):
"Mark, that sounds like a great idea. But let me take this out for a ride and socialize it with the staff."
Mark was alarmed. Was he planning to drink with his staff while driving and discussing his idea?
Ragan readers: Can you come up with some uses for this trendy new word? Socialize it first among your cube mates, but please, no alcohol. Again, Ragan will hand out a free conference registration to the most holistic among you.
5) Human business. One of our new favorites. Human business distinguishes you from the lonely zookeeper. It lets your employees and clients know that you're not directing these communication strategies at cats, lizards and mountain lions.
Excuse us while we make a sharp left into this next digression.
Social media gurus like to come up with words and symbols that make them sound smart but gentle. Have you noticed this trend? Our favorite is the PR entrepreneur who says he created his company as a Karmic response to the industry.
How do they get away with this crap? We’re not naming names here. Google it. Lovely guy, by the way. You can spot him in t-shirts and military fatigues at most PR conferences.
Right turn into another pet peeve. Is there a new style of social media guru-wear? What's with all of the experts who dress this way? Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh—everyone genuflect, please—now appears before pin-striped, confused financial analysts in his trademark hoodie, t-shirt and jeans. We tried this approach once but the cops frisked us outside the Ritz-Carlton Conference Center. We've never been able to pull it off.
5) Touchpoints. Where's HR when you need them? You ain't touching us anywhere.
6) Awareness and bridging. More Deepak-speak. How do we explain this to the truck driver hauling our new refrigerator units across the country? Have you ever spoken to a truck driver?
7) Lurkers. Ick. HR?
8) Mashups. We think our teenage daughters once did this in junior high school, or was that mashing. Oh, never mind.
9) Peer-to-peer. As opposed to peer-to-peon.
10) Flash mob. Sounds kind of titillating, but we don't think it's allowed. Let’s check the employee handbook.
We could go on, but we won't. Don't want to crash the servers. Let Ragan readers take over now.
Readers, can you add to this list? It may help, really.
Socialize it and get back to us.
And remember those free conference registrations.