Curmudgeon that I am, it’s difficult for me to accept the notion that the world of communication I’ve known and lived by throughout my lifetime is now deader than the dodo, supplanted by snippets adopted and perfected by people who are just now entering the workplace.
As recently as three years ago, if you had asked me what I thought about these phenomena, I’d have shrugged and suggested that you give it another decade before asking again. But once again in my lifetime of perpetual bewilderment, I seem to have missed the timeline by a whole bunch. Today, while I still think that twitters, tweets, and blogs still miss the mark as business and management communications tools, it is not for lack of acceptance, rather the emergence of what I will call “The Magic App” after the impact of Visicalc (forerunner to Excel) in the early days of the personal computer, that turned what had been a curiosity into a full-fledged business tool.
Arriving on your desk in the next day or two will be our Elements issue, whose articles have been prepared by SWANA’s Technical Divisions, and among them is one on communications—“Continuing the Conversation,” by Dennis Guy—that you will do well to digest. In it the writer explains: “We need to write for our readers, not for ourselves. We need to know our readers. The best way to make sure you take a reader-centered approach is to get help directly from our intended readers on what to say and how to say it. Then we can test the material by getting reactions directly from our readers.”
In his summation, Guy points out, “Social media is about paring something down to its essence—sometimes in 140 characters or less,” so when dealing with a public well versed in three-second clips and even shorter sound bites, anything beyond those may in fact be counterproductive.