I recently saw a post on social media that reads, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, plus a social media overreaction.” As much as this statement rings true, I can also imagine how its tone may come across as a bit offending to some.
Social media harbors more connotations, implications, and assumptions than perhaps any other form of communication. As Sonia Simone notes, “If you use the social web at all, you probably see someone put their digital foot in their mouth virtually every day by making poor word choices. Add to that the fact that there’s a political or potentially controversial subtext that can be attached to almost any statement, and it starts to feel like a minefield out there.”
And yet, despite the fact that it’s all too easy to offend or alienate with one simple meme or post, social media is one of the most lucrative ways businesses can reach their customers. The trick obviously is to balance connecting with potential customers and inadvertently flubbing up that same connection.
That’s why Simone recommends that writers be mindful of their tone. Even word choice can play a key factor. “All careful writers know that there’s no such thing as a true synonym. Every word carries its own set of associations and nuances that color the writing,” she explains. For this reason, we writers should learn the subtle differences between one word and another. Often the slightest distinction can harbor a whole new meaning.
Similarly, the stories we tell our customers and the values those stories convey can either build a bridge or burn that bridge. Simone recommends keeping tabs on what various stories, sayings, and ideas mean in our present culture. “[T]he best way to stay current is just to keep your eyes and ears open on social and stay attuned to how messages are moving through the culture … and specifically, to the people you care about talking to,” Simone states.
Ultimately, the more that we business owners are in-tune with our customers’ likes and dislikes, the more we will know how best to communicate with them. We shouldn’t be afraid to create a unique voice on social media; we should simply be aware of the undertones filtering through our words.