If you’re involved with any type of business these days, you have an online presence. However big or small, you need to be seen where people are looking. And that means you need to put real effort into your social media engagement. The second someone sees something annoying, uninteresting, repetitive, irrelevant or boring, you run the risk of that dreaded “unlike” or “unfollow.”
Here are a few tips to keep things share-worthy. The overarching theme here is to act like a person.
Don’t overdo it.
Thanks, tips! That’s pretty obvious, but worth mentioning nonetheless. It’s really easy to get carried away and lose the sense of what’s too much when you’re really excited about something. If people see your posts too many times in a day, goodbye! There’s a fine line between promoting your business and over-selling. And the latter is very off-putting indeed. If you sound like a business, you’ll be seen as one. Write your posts as if you were telling your customer something in passing as they were walking into your store or office. It makes a huge difference.
Share what you find interesting.
If you treat your brand as a person, think about what that person would like to hear. Your followers are like-minded to you, so they’ll listen. Treat it as your own personal account; share things of interest with your friends. If your business is in animal rights, share the latest article highlighting the WWF’s efforts to saving the pandas. If you over-sell, people will notice. And that “unlike” button is too easily accessible for you to run that risk. Put yourself in your followers’ shoes. Think of whether you’d click the link to learn more when deciding on what to post.
Mix up your content.
Again, if you treat your brand as a person, don’t only talk about yourself. People are self-obsessed; they’d rather tell you about themselves than hear about you. So ask them! Engage them to reach out and share their own take on whatever it is you’re talking about. Mix up your content with industry updates, photos, videos, insights, questions and answers. And remember that people respond best to visuals. Infographics will perform better than paragraphs.
Play it by ear.
The only sure way to know how well something will be received is to put it out there. This kind of research cuts straight to the chase. It either works, or it doesn’t. See what kinds of posts people like and keep giving them those. Similarly, ditch the ones that don’t work. One unsuccessful post won’t kill you. It will show you what not to do. Ever again.
Quality > Quantity
It takes the same amount of energy to create one great post and five crappy ones. Use your resources wisely and give quality the time it deserves. The same applies to hashtags. It’s better to use one to three good hashtags that already have a good following than 20 hashtags that do absolutely nothing. And that many of them make your post look like spam. Even better if you incorporate them into your sentences so they serve a dual purpose: both communicate and connect.
Keeping a toddler occupied with a single activity is a challenge for anyone — parent or otherwise. And as easy as it is to hand them a tablet to take on that challenge, there are other ways to entertain them that are more beneficial to both them and you. If we retain one-third less information on an electronic device, just think what that does to our mini-selves whose attention spans are far shorter to begin with.
Here’s an idea: teach them the value of the written word with a little light reading. That’s all it takes. Children feel a sense of accomplishment when they learn to do new things. And you’ll have some quality time to savour at the same time.
Make it a habit.
Starting a reading ritual is a great way to make words old and new a part of your toddler’s day. If you do it at the same time, like right before bed or right after daycare/school, you’ll both have an easier time making it a part of every day. Choosing what story they want, whether from the public library or your own home library, is the first part of that ritual. You can even have a special spot to do it in. A fort you built together perhaps? (Sorry in advance for the mess if that’s the case). Any sort of consistency makes it specific to you.
Remember the classics.
Introduce them to your old favourite stories and characters. The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar shouldn’t be forgotten! That will bring out some nostalgia in you while it builds their vocabulary. Pretty fair trade-off, wouldn’t you say? Plus, your iPad will get the chance to take a break and recharge its battery.
After you’re done reading, take a few moments to go over what you just read together. Discuss the moral of the story. Ask them who their favourite character was and why. Write it down. Going beyond just reading and actually thinking about it is a fantastic exercise that will help them learn better and more efficiently in the long run. You may even discover you were wrong about the tortoise and the hare all along.
If they really get into this, they may even want to start writing their own stories. Then you’ll have to give up your iPad time. What a shame.
Your client hands you a 50-page manual explaining the scope of the latest artificial intelligence software they came up with. It was written by the engineer who created it. Now you have to share that with the general public. Yikes. Where do you even begin?
It doesn’t matter if it’s artificial intelligence or Plato’s theory on friendship — any complex topic can be proven simple if given the opportunity. Here are a few tips on how to break down heavy concepts into light and breezy descriptions that will only leave the engineers who wrote them scratching their heads.
Know it well enough to explain it simply.
This comes down to very thorough research. Or, if it’s a 50-page manual written by the guy who developed it, a simple read-through a few times. If anything whatsoever is unclear to you, make it clear. Ask all the questions to anyone involved on the other end of it. Figure out how it works inside, outside and sideways. Determine what inspired the people to develop it in the first place. The more you know, the easier it will be to explain. Keep in mind that you’re the one to explain it to everyone else.
Pretend you’re talking to aliens.
This is great to keep in mind for any type of mass communication. Just don’t make it sound condescending. They’re not idiots, they’re just aliens who’ve never been exposed to whatever it is you’re talking about. This is where knowing a lot about your given topic can work against you, because it’s so engrained in you that you assume people know what you know. They don’t. When you mention things like hardware and software, follow up with a very brief side note that the hardware is the machine you’re operating your programs (or software) on. A short description like that doesn’t make a dent in your overall communication, yet it makes a huge difference to your reader.
Simplify words, shorten sentences.
If you want to explain things simply, don’t cram more than one thing at a time into your sentences. Your overall efforts will be futile if you do. Remember, you’re trying to eliminate every opportunity to confuse your reader. This is a time you’d want to ditch the thesaurus, or use it to find the simpler, more everyday term for whatever it is you’re talking about. Now is not a time to be fancy. Save that for your doctoral dissertation.
Watch out for industry terms.
If you drop a term like SEO, I of T or the Cloud, it’s unfair to assume your reader will know you’re referring to Search Engine Optimization, the Internet of Things or Internet-based file storage. And even if they could recognize the acronym, what are these things? If you mention terms like this, make it clear what their function and purpose are, as well as how that’s relevant to what you’re talking about. They’ll take away newly learned terminology, which makes reading your content that much more valuable.
Explain with common analogies.
If you say that the technology will tie into their I of T (Internet of Things) initiatives, go beyond the mere clarification. Fortify that claim with an analogy that puts in into an everyday context:
The Internet of Things is a term that describes the interconnectedness of technology (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) through wireless Internet. So think of it as a power bar with six different outlets where each device has a cable that plugs in and connects them all to each other. That’s I of T in a nutshell, only there are no wires involved and you can access them from anywhere.
Reinforce your points.
When you make a point, make it again. You can’t be sure they got it the first time, so give it to them a second time just in case. The second iteration should be even simpler than the first, like an afterthought to gather what you just said. Legendary ad man George Lois said it best: Tell them what they’re about to hear, let them hear it, then tell them what they just heard.
The image you project to a potential employer should be one of your best self. And in most cases, it’s projected as even better than that. So when you’re describing yourself on LinkedIn, shouldn’t you be using all the best words to do so? You want to paint a picture that gets them to take action. You want to be proud of what you present them with.
Well, upon browsing through some profiles, a few common phrases appeared over and over again. At first glance, they sound professional. But really, they say absolutely nothing. It’s all just filler to take away white space. What did white space ever do to you?
Quality over quantity — brevity is the soul of wit — refer to whatever saying you like best.
Let’s take a look at some examples so you know what to avoid. Leave these out. It’s worth the white space. Whether you’re unsure or confident, a prospective employer will follow suit. So take some time and make it better.
“Results-driven/highly motivated individual”
Aren’t we all? That couldn’t be more generic. If you weren’t motivated, you wouldn’t say so anyway. You’d make way more of an impact if you simply said, “I get results.” The people reading this are pressed for time. Why would you beat around the bush by overstuffing your description with business-speak and waste it?
“A passion for _______”
Is it just me, or does saying you have passion for something not sound very passionate? Saying it doesn’t make it true. It’s better to say something that proves it instead: I often forget whether I’m writing for business or pleasure. See how that works?
“Maintain an effective and professional environment”
Okay, what does this even mean? That work gets done? That there’s no goofing off? That a serious dress code is in effect? Your guess is as good as ours. Perhaps they want to say they take their job seriously. If you have to think about what it means, scrap it. Especially if you’re looking for a creative-type job, this is a sure way to get them to click the little “x” in the corner of the window. Be specific and tell them exactly what your strengths are.
“Discovering new opportunities”
Congratulations, you’re unemployed. Telling them that (in a lofty euphemism, no less) at the start reeks of desperation. If they smell that, you can say goodbye to the opportunity to negotiate anything. And it doesn’t say who you are or what you do. There’s more of their wasted time. Because then they have to click your profile to see what you can offer. Good luck with that.
“Create growth through unique competitive advantage”
Saying you’re unique doesn’t make you unique. Tell them what your competitive advantage is. Any buffoon can say they have a unique competitive advantage. Might as well say their competitive advantage is that their fingerprints are like no one else’s. (Come to think of it, that’s a pretty cheeky reason; we’d keep reading that description). Create growth? What kind of growth? Did you add a new section to the building? Did profits rise? Did you hire a lot of new people? Throw some numbers out. At least they never lie.
As we mentioned earlier, tell them something that impresses you, and they’ll be far more likely to be impressed.
They’re the punch line to our jokes. The zingers in our book pages. The standout parts of our conversation. Sometimes they’re even our headlines. We’re talking about one-liners, less commonly known as aphorisms. They are short and sweet true statements that pack a punch; a punch in the gut leaving you gasping for air after the brilliance hits you.
And sometimes that one line is all you need. If done well enough, you don’t need to read the article. You could even scrap it altogether because the headline tells the whole story. It’s like when really quiet people say one thing and leave everyone stunned.
Throwing one in at the end of a best man speech can revive it even if the entire thing was putting your audience to sleep. Keep a few things in mind though: make it unexpected, make it short and make it sting. It’s that shock value that will turn things around in your favour. Jokes at your own expense are always a good way to go. It’s worth the embarrassment.
Let’s take a look at some instances where a solid one-liner can save the day.
A Boring Speech
It’s your best friend’s wedding. You’re the best man. The bride’s side is the majority of the audience, so you don’t know most people there. Therefore, you decided to keep things safe when writing your speech. Unfortunately, now people in the audience are alternating between looking at the clock and the direction of the open bar. There’s your opener! If Dave continues to look at Cindy the way you’re all looking at the bartender now, they’ll definitely live happily ever after. Cheers.
You can see your audience dozing off and you still have seven minutes of explaining the statistics report to go. If no one pays attention to you, it’s as if you didn’t even deliver the presentation. What a waste of everyone’s time. They’re angry enough being forced to sit through it in the first place.
So what do you do? Break the monotony. Take a moment to pause so you’ve got their attention first, then unleash it: By the way, they’re determining our bonuses based on the test at the end of this presentation.
A Business Meeting
You’re at the head of the table in the boardroom. No one sitting around you wants to be there, yourself included. But the plan for the next quarter has to be discussed. Time to lighten the mood and make a joke at your boss’s expense.
Warning: be very careful with this. It’ll only work if you’re on good terms with the person in question and are confident they’re the type to take it the right way. Otherwise, you’re more likely to pack up your things and go.
If you know the guy isn’t one for laughter, don’t comment on his toupee. If she’s clearly going through a hard time, don’t mention her recent divorce. Feel out the situation and play it by ear. If you do it just right, you’ll win over everyone including the one laughing at themself.
A New Encounter
You just met someone new and you really like them so you want to break the ice. In this case your one-liner will need to come closer to the beginning of your exchange. Perhaps even be the first thing to come out of your mouth. Brace yourself: this could make or break the situation. But you have nothing to lose anyway, so it’s good practice.
If they caught you staring, be honest: if I seemed like I was creepily staring at you, it’s cause I was. Again, you’ll need to feel out the vibe to determine what you might be able to get away with. Best of luck in any case.