The shrill versus the truth

Triumph of the Shrill – Does the Truth Matter Anymore?

A classic example of war propaganda is Triumph of the Will, a lengthy film documenting the 1934 Nazi rally in Nuremberg, Germany. You may recall how filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl shot and edited the footage to glorify Hitler as a great unifier, bringing order and greatness to a country that had suffered after WWI. It can also be seen as a rallying cry to prepare for more war — war against enemies abroad and internally. Ultimately, that regime created its enemies and then killed them under the guise of some fabricated truth.

Well, we know where that led. Still, of late, it has become fashionable for some Americans and others to deny the Holocaust. This sort of talk used to be decried. Instead, candidates for office pushing “counter-Semitism” might be met with relatively mild comments by established politicos supposedly distancing themselves.

Current affairs in the United States have devolved from culture wars to a Triumph of the Shrill. What used to be fringe ideas snowballed on social media into widely-held notions that even motivate voting and/or vigilantism (see #PizzaGate gunman). In our post-truth reality, a constantly equivocating president decried the press who report his contradictions – as well as unflattering truths – as the enemy of the people.

How did we get this far? In the early 1990s, as a cub reporter, I first encountered people who grumbled about the media. They struck me then as uneducated. Remember the candidate who said he loved the uneducated? Well, there you go.

In the post-truth world, education is elitist. Educated people have supposedly been indoctrinated by a liberal academia. What, though, is liberal? The shrill voices want you to believe the elitist liberals are going to take away other Americans’ rights. This falls into the category of projection: fascists will have you believe that if you don’t go along with them, you are doomed. The politics of fear is not new. But the willingness of more people to go along unquestioningly appears to be getting worse.

In a liberal arts education, students are not told what to think by professors. They are instructed to go figure it out, after researching facts and thorough consideration. And if you don’t fully support your argument, you are going to get a bad grade. Analogously, I came up in a Christian tradition where “discernment” is virtuous. You need to determine your faith, no one can spoon-feed it to you. By extension, Biblical inerrantists will tell you everything in the Bible is fact. Moreover, their translation and interpretation is correct. Period, no ifs, ands or buts. You do not need to be a linguist well-versed in concordances to realize that cannot be possible 100% of the time.

The Reign of Confusion

Bullying people into subscribing to your stated point of view is one tactic. Another mechanism is sowing confusion and disarray into a discourse. Better yet, contradict yourself and then go back again, creating subsets of audiences who hear what they wanted to hear, all the while thinking some other side is wrong.

Fake news falls into this category. It is spun together taking strands of truth and twisting them with outlandish lies. To bolster this dangerous bullsh!t, falsity peddlers will reintroduce old boogeymen, such as the Rothschilds, and marry them to some current event. (I saw a fake news story today on Facebook, ahem, reviving PizzaGate while tying the Clintons to the Rothschilds.

Are you too still seeing actual fake news on Facebook or elsewhere. You betcha you are. In yet another masterstroke of projection, real news is decried as fake news. Screaming fake news has proven more expedient and effective than actually attempting to disprove any real news. Truth is the best defense for libel. Logically, if you cannot defeat the truth, you will not sue for libel. Instead, just shout “fake news” and poof, the story should go away.

Last week, I attended my 25th college reunion at a private, liberal arts university. A professor gave a lecture providing a somewhat sociological explanation for Trump’s win. While attending the school, which has always had a student body that is conservative, I could not have possibly foreseen the possibility of such a presidency. Alumni audience members did not sound like fans of the president in their questions, although one offered up an explanation: he drew his support from people who feel ignored and disrespected.

I raised my hand and shared that I tried to tell some friends during the election that this candidate was regarded in New York as a con artist with dubious ties and big financial woes, and yet they would insist “he’s a great businessman” and “he tells it like it is.” In this opposite world, I had a question for the professor:

“Does the truth matter?” He concurred he is concerned about whether it does. So, I ask now, what will it take for the truth to matter again?

–Katharine Fraser

Image of stop button for disinformation.

Gatekeepers Matter More Than Ever in a Flood of Digital Disinformation

Remember the gatekeepers? The discerning people with ethics, intelligence and diligence who provided valuable information in a democracy? Do you know who they are? Read on.

The controversy engulfing Facebook and other social media comes down to the basic premise, or false supposition, that people believed in thinking if they set their privacy settings to lock down their profiles, then Facebook would protect their identities. Not so. Facebook is not a gatekeeper. On the contrary.

By joining a social network housed on the Internet, users became a commodity. Advertisers can target defined audiences by selecting interests. In my experience, there is nothing nefarious about wanting to target people – on an aggregated basis – who live in X city, who like Y product, etc. and position your ad for that type of product in front of them.

Of course, the problem is when Facebook users have been targeted with fake news, based on their psychological profile as gleaned from Facebook data. Now, it is crystal clear why certain friends and family were so inclined to share outrageously false stories masquerading as news.

As for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, I agree, as a matter of fact, with some of what Steve Bannon said at an FT tech conference: data mining and targeted marketing is nothing new. The issue, though, is whether individual Facebook users had authority to give an app full access to their friends’ data and then the issue of how that data all was extracted for commercial purposes. Raise your hand and admit you clicked OK for that. So, you would think, OK, fine, so if me and my friends like cycling, we will probably see ads on Facebook for bikes, cycling clothes and accessories, etc. OK, maybe you realized that the data would go into a database and be categorized on an aggregated basis as percentages of people who like cycling, etc.

When it comes to politics, however, people’s hackles get raised when anyone tells them personally how to vote. After all, the United States has secret balloting. And, it’s kinda creepy to think that a further step was taken: if you fit certain personality styles, you received ads from fake news pages and the like. That’s where the manipulation comes in.

From a marketing perspective, it’s great to know you can target people demographically for particular products. A health nut is not going to be interested in the cupcakes recipe, presumably. So, you can direct your baking recipes at a bunch of sweet-tooths. But, the key consideration remains with the content, whether in an ad or not: are you authentic, and moreover, truthful?

The other issue is disclosure. In political advertising on TV, radio and print, we are used to the candidate stating they approved the message. But when a pro-Trump/anti-Clinton fake news story came out of Macedonia or wherever, there was no disclosure of who paid for it. Same with all those Russian bots.

The problem isn’t the data sharing. The problem is what kind of messaging was used to target certain people to manipulate them and, “sow discord,” as the Mueller indictment against 13 Russians put it. That’s why it’s so ridiculous that Bannon could try waving all of this off by suggesting it’s exactly what Obama did. Do you remember any Russian propaganda on Facebook in 2008 and/or 2012 trashing John McCain or Mitt Romney? No, we needed to wait until 2016 to watch Trump do that himself. Which brings me back to gatekeepers.

You cannot rely on the social media platforms to self-regulate the content that is shared. They really do not want to be in the publishing business, which would make them accountable for every errant story or disinformation posted. Instead, you can take ownership of your feeds. For starters, follow real news organizations.

While many traditional news organizations have decimated their reporting staffs (have you noticed how your local TV news shares viral videos in lieu of reporting on city council actions?), those that remain in the news business do have protocols for vetting stories. Reporters separate fact from fiction and editors guide the process of ensuring stories are accurately told.

The emphasis on balancing viewpoints is waning by necessity because that construct was gamed. People with outrageous and misleading points could count on getting a word in for the sake of balanced news. Not anymore. The gatekeepers are pushing back, so when a falsity is stated (even by the president of the United States), the real news people note, for the record, that a comment is incorrect.

If you support an idea and hear an anchor or reporter contradicting it, try not to get defensive of the idea and person who said it. Think more deeply about whether it’s true and why they would want you to believe a lie. It’s not just the Russian trolls who spread falsity and actual fake news.

By Katharine Fraser, katharine@adroitnarratives.com

Hands working a craft.

The Craft of Writing Content and Copy

 

When you visualize someone honing a craft, images of woodworkers or potters might come to mind. Writing too is a craft.

Old school news writers refer to their craft because good writing is a product that comes from forethought and practice. Writers learn their craft from more experienced writers, much like old time apprentices.

When it comes to social media marketing and digital content writing, I’m taking this analogy a step further and comparing these services to craft beer. Microbrewing harkens back to the old days when neighborhood bars sold locally produced beer. Of late, big corporate, multi-national brewing companies have rolled out brands that emulate local craft beers. They have cute labels and names, and their recipes differ from the flagship brand. In addition, some craft beer companies have been acquired by big brewers.

But craft beer purists will content this is beer blasphemy. It comes down, though, to consumer choice. Some people love basic big brewery beer and the price. Craft beer aficionados, by contrast, are willing to pay a bit more for a higher quality product with unique recipes and flavors. What does this have to do with social media?

Perhaps you’ve heard of white label social media. This is like buying beer brewed according to a single recipe that tastes the same in every outlet. It’s uniform. It may not be what you like. It might be perfectly serviceable, but perhaps not specific to your needs or desires.

Or, you could go to the local craft brewery and find they make, in small batches, highly specialized and sophisticated beers aimed at the palates and tastes of discerning customers. Likewise, hiring a local digital marketing company means the writer will craft your business storytelling to suit your local target audience. Something generic that works in another market or for a similar business will not meet your specific needs.

To learn more about the craft honed by Adroit Narratives, check out Katharine Fraser’s bio.

 

Emoticons crying over digital marketing

Digital Marketing Cries Out for Coordination

Let’s be honest: sometimes digital marketing can just seem like too much: Vimeo or YouTube, to tweet or not to tweet, fork over a Facebook ad spend or try Pinterest.

Personally, I’m not a fan of Google+ and think a lot of platforms (Google and Facebook) should roll out better user experience tools. Ever wasted time looking for something simple? Yep. Would you rather just not have to deal with the mechanics of it?

Moreover, do you have a consistent marketing message? How are you coordinating that? Would you like it to be systematically managed?

The first thing you want to do is scope out what you are already doing. You may have to literally write this out on a white board or piece of paper. Take your time. Go through your passwords lists to see what you had signed up for historically. You do track this stuff, right? OK, ask your staff to tell you what they may have been doing in social media and other areas. You need to box this in before you can assess what has worked and what hasn’t worked.

For the latter category, be fair about whether something worked. If you tried something sporadically, don’t place unfair expectations on it. Or, maybe you tried something with a vendor that wasn’t a good fit for you.

Now, before asking yourself what will work, ask this: who am I trying to reach and what I am seeking to accomplish over what period of time. For example, how many leads do you need to secure how much new business over the next six months? Do not seriously ask what you can accomplish in a month with digital marketing. That is not a serious question.

Next, who is going to devise the marketing message and manage it? How will they coordinate input from key stakeholders and participants (sales people, service people, customers and business owners)?

What is the best process or operating procedure for ensuring this gets done? Talk to your marketing coordinator about what is realistic and what would be optimal to get your digital marketing organized.

For more information , contact communications and marketing consultant Katharine Fraser.

Adroit Narratives logo with daily miracle imagery.

The Daily Miracle of Content Creation

How do you decide what to write every day when it comes to video scripts, blogs and social media posts for your business’s digital marketing?

Perhaps you’ve created an “editorial calendar” and pegged its topics to your seasonal offerings or otherwise organized a list of topics to systematically cover in this content marketing. Great! Plus, you probably know you ought to stay consistent and push out this original material on a regular basis.

Now, if you are lucky, determined and resourceful, you have created time in the schedule to do this. Or rather, imagine you floated to work on a cloud and miraculously have time to write a bunch of social media posts and blogs. Now what?

Do you have writer’s block? Is a cursor blinking on your screen, calling out begging for copy and tormenting you with its relentless blinking? Perhaps you do not like this.

Did you know there is an entire segment of the population who likes writing. Many of them, by dint of education and formal training, have actually become quite adept at this writing thing.

The Daily Miracle

Many of these writers are veterans of the Daily Miracle, an age-old ritual commonly known as news writing. When I first got out of journalism school, I wrote for a weekly business newspaper, which meant you had some time to craft your story. The bummer was that anyone writing for a daily newspaper could easily scoop your weekly news outlet. (To supply some context, I’m old enough to remember the Stone Age before news was available online. During this period, the Internet was primarily used by academics and such, and not commercial enterprises, newspapers and certainly not common peons or ink-stained wretches.)

When I moved to a daily financial services paper, I became subject to the overlords of the Daily Miracle, who required me to file my stories every weekday at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. This was especially fun the month I spent reporting from San Francisco on New York time. Yes, I had to submit my copy by 11:30 a.m. Pacific time. This was more than 20 years ago, yet I still think of 2:30 p.m. as a major demarcation in a workday.Adroit Narratives logo with daily miracle imagery.

As a young writer, I often felt stressed out by the 2:30 p.m. deadline and, moreover, by the requirement that I have a good story to write about every work day. Sometimes the morning commute served as a big brainstorm when I thought of everyone I would call to find a story. Usually, I had written a lot of my story by lunchtime. Meeting the big deadline become more and more doable.

Nowadays, I still write the daily miracle, mostly for clients’ digital marketing campaigns. When it comes to ensuring I keep up with my own blogs, I can feel like a plumber with a leaky faucet in my own home. When I must write, I just shut out everything else, reflect and start typing.

Be sure that you create a grand plan for content marketing and then devise ways to create achievable every day action items to make it happen.

For more information on content marketing, contact consultant Katharine Fraser.

Band in a desert scene bring out their voice.

Where is the Voice of Your Brand?

I’ve lost my voice. Not the voice that is my personal brand or digital personal. My actual voice. I’ve been so excited to discuss social media marketing all day with my intern that I actually lost my voice.

But what is a brand’s voice? Just as you recognize a brand’s identity from its logo and color scheme, you recognize a company’s voice.

For some the voice is literally that of a spokesman, especially in a local market, such as Mattress Mack of Gallery Furniture. Anyone who lives in Houston a few months knows they can get furniture delivered “today!” That message is drilled into them on the radio and TV ads in Mack’s actual voice. A competitor, Texas Mattress Makers, is also relying on an actual voice to impart trust and warmth. The narrator asks you in a mellifluous tone, “what is a mattress? Where was it made?” Honestly, I had not realized these were important points or deep thoughts until the ad posed the questions. Now, when thousands of Houstonians lay themselves down to sleep and feel uncomfortable, they might just hear the voice of the Texas Mattress Makers asking, why are you still on that old mattress?

Your brand’s voice must be memorable to be effective, and to be memorable it ought to be consistent. Even if several people are the spokesmen for your brand, they should intone with the same message. Remember, the role of spokesman runs the gamut from the people answer the phone to the people making sales calls to the people writing the content for your social media and blogs.

Within that group of content writers, they must stay on the same page to keep that voice intact. Anyone straying from the normal messaging is going to post something as coherent for your brand as nails on a chalkboard.

To keep everyone on point, host weekly meetings to strategize on what you are marketing and to ensure the campaigning is consistent. This is especially important if you have people working in different locations. It still matters when the team is in the same office space.

You can also decide to appoint people as voice leaders or brand ambassadors. Identity the people who speak best for your brand and have them coach the teammates.

Angry woman pumps fist with fiery backdrop.

Fake news, Fake Reviews and Prevailing Truth

Recently, a real news outlet covered the story of an airport gate temper tantrum by a grown woman. The story seemed sympathetic to her plight as an aggrieved customer. A Facebook friend and I had diametrically opposed views of her rant, which came after the airport was closed due to high winds. Frankly, I think she should have been kicked out of the airport. If I had been a traveler at the gate, I would have been rather put out having to put up with her.

What does that have to do with digital marketing and social media? I liken this screaming maniac to the negative review frustration felt by businesses when a raving lunatic trashes their business on Yelp, Facebook or other outlet.Angry woman pumps fist with fiery backdrop. I’ve seen this happen a few times and it’s awful for a business owner to be on the receiving end of an unfair review. Some examples:

  • A customer had not paid in full, but wanted the products she ordered already and accused the business owner of being a criminal in a Yelp review
  • An ex-employee apparently relapses and accuses more than one former employer of being crooks

I bet you have seen many of these examples. We rely on Yelp for road trip dining and it never fails to amuse me how ridiculous the negative reviews are, such as a Denny’s customer poo-pooing the butter substitute packets. The only time I have ever been truly scared away by a review was in reference to bed bugs at a hotel. I’m not sure I want to provide guidance to the libel slingers of the world, but tossing around bed bug allegations can be damaging.

Admittedly, I don’t have any hotels as clients, but my advice is generally the same no matter what your business.

Respond in way that is generic and professional. Provide your policy in a way that hints at the context of the complaint. (We’re so sorry if our all sales are final policy presented a frustration for you…) Do not meet the mud-slinger at their level and don’t get into specifics to rebut them. This is not a trial and you are not a litigator. If the material is so objectionable that you think it needs legal review, by all means, call an attorney.

Report the negative view as harassment or a violation of the community standard of the platform. Each is a little different, but those flagging mechanisms are available. Usually, you just need to right-click on an arrow to get to the report post prompts. If you cannot wait for Facebook to get around to pulling a negative rating, you could remove the rating function on your business page. Unfortunately, it does not let you cherry-pick which reviews to keep or delete. If you must immediately pull the shade on reviews, go to edit page info and change the category from local business to another category, such as company.

Take a deep breath. It is highly unlikely to end up as bad as #pizzagate, where a fake news story, a.k.a. absurd conspiracy theory, led a gunman to show up at a Washington, D.C., pizzeria in search of heinous criminal behavior allegations being spread ad infinitum on social media. Reflect on the full context. Do you have a lot of positive reviews to counteract the negative one?

Maybe your report on a review will be taken in account and the rant removed (I’m please to say that happened for a business I know today). Or maybe, customers and prospective customers will take the negative review with a big grain of salt or see it for what it is: someone unfairly taking their problem out on your business, like the airport meltdown lady.

Another possibility, is that the abuse Comet Ping Pong faced was so egregious and extensive that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Yelp etc. are going to need to respond to a growing outcry from reasonable people that they recognize they are indeed publishing platforms and not just technology companies. This means they will have to accept some accountability for what they allow to fester and spread on their platforms, just like a publisher.

Either way, the key thing for your business is to define it yourself, with the help of happy customers. Don’t just ask people to “like” you on Facebook. Encourage them to check in and post comments on the products and services they buy. Post regularly to your page with stories about your industry, specials you are offering and special guests that may come in. Post videos to Instagram and Facebook. I’ve seen video being rewarded on Facebook with more reach than written posts alone.

Remember to put some goodwill into the universe by checking in and reviewing your favorite businesses too! Getting an oil change and surfing the web from your phone? Check in! Eating an amazing Thai food dinner at a restaurant you hadn’t tried before? Review it! You’re helping those businesses just like you want your customers to help you.

And remember, you cannot make everyone happy. See below where, after I praised my food processor in a Facebook comment on a news story, another consumer criticized it with a bad experience from decades ago. Please bear in mind that negative comments will often be taken less seriously than you think. Do not let negative comments keep you out of social  media. It is here to stay.Facebook comments about Cuisinart quality on a Washington Post article about a recall.

Mobile phone next to credit card indicating an online purchase.

Social Media Engagement is a Two-Way Street

In social media, what do people want to watch and read about a product or service? Are you giving the people what they want?

Reflect a moment on your own social media habits. Which businesses do you like and follow? Are you liking a business or ad you see on Facebook, only to not see it again? By contrast, do you often see the posts of businesses you regularly engage with? What is engagement?

When you comment on a post, you are engaging with that business, which tells a little algorithm birdie you want to see more of that kind of content. For example, I personally like many businesses, but will always see the ones about cooking because I comment on the posts by cooking and lifestyle magazines I follow. I like a handful of them so much that I told Facebook (via newsfeed preferences) I want to see those businesses posts first in my newsfeed.Mobile phone next to credit card indicating an online purchase.

What can you do to reach such elevated status with your following? Are you giving them how-to information? That how-to can serve as an intro to the rest of your expertise. Or, it may compel them to hire you to do it all for them.

You want to stay front of mind so when they hear a friend say, I’m in the market for a new widget, your audience says, hey, I saw this great video from a widget maker you may like.

The video can be as simple as one of your subject-matter experts speaking to the camera with an explanation about a product or service. The expert should be approachable.

Are you friendly? Do your written posts speak in a friendly, fun voice? Remember you are trying to reach people when they are in a recreational mode (surfing social media).

Numbers Tell the Story – Check Your Analytics

When it comes to social media and other content marketing, including website content, review what’s working and what’s not working. Social media provides analytics for businesses to see which posts perform well and which get less traction. Seize the data. Look at trends over recent months and seasonal periods. Be sure to look at the interplay between social media analytics and the Google Analytics for your business website.

When it comes to the content in your social media, give your target market something concrete, tangible, specific and, most importantly, actionable.

What is the point of telling people you are a master craftsman of widgets if you don’t give them a way to buy the widget. This does not mean you should plaster tacky ACT NOW buttons all over your social media posts and website. Instead, you are giving them options for engaging:

  • Promote an event, such as an open house
  • Offer a free or lower-priced consultation
  • Provide a link to a digital coupon or limited-time special offer

What are you selling? Yourself, especially if this is a small business. What is it about your background and best practices that provide the value people get for what they are paying? Answer those questions in your content.

Video is Eye Catching

Remember when Facebook first started autoplaying video and consumers freaked out because they thought it would eat into their mobile data costs? Well, that was resolved and now when people scroll, they naturally stop at video. The movement and colors really pop off their phones.

I really love creating videos for clients, especially one with music and backdrops because I can use still photos of products or scenes in such slideshow-based videos. There are apps and programs you can use to create and edit videos. Of course, Facebook wants you to use its video ad builder, but it is not as advanced as other set-ups. That said, the Facebook video ad builder is a useful platform I have used and seen good results.

What is you favorite video editor? Your favorite platform or venue for watching video?

For more content marketing ideas, contact communications consultant Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives.

A smart phone revealing a lack of authenticity.

Death of Credibility, Draw of Content Authenticity

The best content you see on social media is truly from a real source. Remember the Chewbacca lady or the guy singing about the Patti LaBelle sweet potato pies? I personally love The Pioneer Woman and if she isn’t writing those Facebook posts herself, I will be shocked. At the same time, though, our world is awash in fake content.

As a former journalist, it’s disheartening to see the growth and success of fake news sites, which popped up like mushrooms after a rain during the U.S. presidential election season. Instead of being dismayed, many people are plucking these fake stories and serving them up to all their friends on Facebook.

For its part, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg maintains that fake news is a miniscule portion of the content shared on the social network. In a Facebook post, he also warns that “I believe we must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves.” Granted, it doesn’t want to become a giant editorial operation arguing finer points of facts, satire, context, etc. with millions of armchair auteurs.

Real news will have to combat the hucksters. In the free marketplace of ideas, it’s up to the truth purveyors to push out the falsity. Remember that fake story about an FBI agent found dead after investigating Hillary Clinton’s email? I absolutely loved that the Denver Post, a real news organization, not only rebutted the story, but revealed that the fake news outlet has a physical address for a tree in a parking lot. Indeed, the Denver Post slapped a great headline on that exposure: “There is no such thing as the Denver Guardian, despite that Facebook post you saw.”

Beware of feel-good fake stories

The paradox is people who believe the click bait bull dookie may also love authentic stories, but they may not always be able to quickly tell the difference. A friend in Houston posted to Facebook a feel-good story about Clint Eastwood praising the good folks of Plainview, Texas, for helping him with rental car troubles. I smelled B.S., especially given the poor quality of the article writing. I googled the matter and found that Clint Eastwood purportedly had the same wonderful things to say about the good people of Lake Jackson, Texas, as well as Florence, Kentucky. If you go to the websites with these stories, you will see a whole bunch of other headlines that make the National Enquirer look like The New York Times. Snopes found a whole host of similar hoax stories about celebrities and car troubles:

This is why it is critical to make sure that you only share real articles for your business Facebook page or other social media account for your marketing. If your business shares a fake story, then your credibility is on the line. Customers would think you are either gullible yourself or trying to put something over on them. Either way, you would end up looking bad.

sell the truth: BE yourself

Besides fake stories, there is another category of inauthentic content on social media: pre-packaged content used for business sectors and used again and again and again. Unbeknownst to a local veterinarian, the company that used to manage his animal hospital’s website was for some automated reason still posting to Facebook for its account. A smart phone revealing a lack of authenticity.This content publisher was also posting to the Facebook page of a competing animal hospital nearby. And, surprise, surprise, the content was identical. The exact same posts made to the Facebook pages with the exact same blog links. Would the pet parents who like either page really learn something from the blog? Maybe.

Would it be better to have content created specially about that business for that business? Yes. For example, I share articles on home design for a home renovation client. We also share pictures and videos of remodeling job sites to show how beautiful his company’s work is. What was one of the most successful posts ever for this client? I linked to the About Us section of the company’s website, used a picture of the business owner and posted about his customer service philosophy. It took off!

Why? Because it is real. Because it is specifically about that particular business and how it delivers. Because it is authentic. Sell yourself when it comes to content marketing. It makes you credible and validates your business. That is what you want people to buy.

For more information on content creation, contact consultant Katharine Fraser of Adroit Narratives.

grammar

Why Good Writing Still Matters in the Digital Age

Digital content marketing displays for all to see what is good writing and what is plain terrible. To promote your business, which would you prefer?

There is even a trend of purposefully poor writing that is meant to be cute. This may have started when people needed to introduce the meaning of their memes. For example, they post to social media an image of a forlorn animal flopping on the ground or some such with the caption: My Monday Be Like. Or maybe, When You Start Mondaying. Whether you find these memes cute or annoying in your personal Facebook feed, ask yourself whether it is good for business. Depends on the business, right?

If you run a gym and want to encourage people to work out with you, a silly post about being tired but able to Zumba would be cute. If you are selling in the B2B arena, avoid memes. Really. Please don’t use memes in B2B. You are not living in an episode of “The Office.”

This casual, broken grammar vernacular is entering speech patterns and even being used on purpose in television ads.

ACCIDENTAL LANGUAGE DESTRUCTION

Separately, we’re all seeing language destruction in news articles, even those published by historically well-regarded newspaper companies. I recently saw a post to Facebook by the Washington Post that was grammatically incoherent and the commenters shredded the institution for this lapse. Having worked in news as a reporter and editor, I can attest that everyone makes mistakes.grammar

But, what we are seeing now in terms of mistakes is their prevalence rather than an anomaly. For example, today I read this phrase in a news story – “She has since changed coarse…” – and wondered if the writer and/or editor would even realize the mistake. In my estimation, this is occurring as news staffs at many organizations have shrunk due to budgetary considerations.

ABBREVIATIONS, ACRONYMS and OH NOs

Twitter’s 140-character limit seems to drive people into a fear of writing too long, so they write too short with weird little abbreviations. If you have to rely on the device of stringing together sets of capital letters, I suggest you try rephrasing that sentiment. Some acronyms and abbreviations are very well known, with many going back to the days of the telegraph, but try to avoid using more than two in a Tweet.

Finally, here’s an abbreviation often seen in Twitter that really needs to go:

“Please RT!”

Cheers,

Katharine Fraser, consultant, content creator and owner of Adroit Narratives, LLC