Bit strange, this. As the clock starts on my two hours of journal time, and I pull up the notes I’ve been putting together as they’ve popped into my head over the past week, I almost feel like I’m giving the game away. It’s my day-to-day establishing the boundaries of language for a brand, the dos and don’ts of tone of voice and generally walking the tightrope that is appealing to a specific audience – and yet, a voice of authority is the last thing I see myself as. Nevertheless, here we go.
Growing up in the age of the internet, where year-on-year communication only became faster, more efficient and more convenient, this evolution of brevity is pretty hard-wired into me. I mean, the go-to place for everything for my generation – from the news to funny cat videos – is a social media platform that’s unique selling point is that it limits the amount you can say.
The equally amazing and scary thing about this change is just how readily available information has become, so, the important feature became how you receive your content, instead of where from. Want wit? Head to Twitter. Detail and professionalism? Let me introduce you to LinkedIn. Hell, why not avoid copy altogether and jump on Instagram. The Wild West that was the early days of the internet quickly became sorted into cliques and like-minded groups. Yes, bad news, we’re all back at school.
To me, hashtags are like the various dinner tables at lunchtime, filled to burst with people wearing the same hats. Sure, you can sit at the table and speak the basics of their language, (oh yeah, I’ll just click #FlatEarth today, why not?) but quickly find there are in-jokes and internal nuances and argumentative divides even within this already niche subsection of the web.
A second language
This is a problem faced by both people and brands alike, reaching outside your bubble and trying to breach a whole new world, or making sure you fit in within the space you already occupy – so I guess language in this analogy is the cool outsider walking you through the cafeteria, handing you all the tips to fit in.
Still, navigating this wilderness is a daunting prospect, and predicting where it’s heading even more so. At this point, abbreviations, hashtags and even emojis are basically a second language and, like all languages, are a teachable skill. Therefore, where communication should or shouldn’t go isn’t something defined by the methods of commutation themselves, there’s always an injection of purpose that precedes actually making a keyboard clack, so it’s very much up to you to carve your own path.
My advice? Shift your perspective and welcome every aspect of this strange world with open arms. The ‘evolution of communication’, isn’t really an evolution at all – it’s expansion. The developments of technology and changes in attitude have only grown the spectrum of where language can take us, additions to a toolkit instead of funnelling us towards a return to hieroglyphs.
It’s easy to feel the pressure to use emojis and hashtags and such, both in everyday and business life, but sometimes you just can’t beat a gripping blog post, or taking the time to sing the praises of a service in a thousand-word comment. On the other hand, there’s a reason why your Mum loves typing ‘lol’, or sends you the aubergine emoji without fully understanding why that makes you shiver to your core. What? It happened to a friend of mine…
Essentially, and this feels strange to type, but this progression felt inevitable. Now, obviously I don’t mean that humanity was destined to walk around with machines in their pocket containing hundreds of little drawings of emoting faces, but the ability to express initial feelings quickly is the pinnacle of the expressive freedom we constantly search for – when your audience can be this reactionary, making the right impression becomes more of a challenge, but infinitely more rewarding if you pull it off.
As a result, there’s never been a more exciting time to be exploring the world of marketing, the ideas we think up should and do take us anywhere imaginable, and now anyone imaginable has access to them. However, making sure the content you produce is authentic and passionate has also never been more important. Audiences can sniff out inauthenticity like sharks smelling blood. So, no matter how you’re getting your message out into the world, have fun with yourself, believe in what you’re saying, and don’t be afraid of the unknown.
Trust me, I’m a professional.