The inference of our words and social media posts can either push your brand forward, or come back to bite you. A recent co-post by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and Sharon Day caught the ire of the social media communities, particularly Twitter. At first, the post seemed fairly harmless, but the inference of the language is what led to a Twitter firestorm.
Take a look at this excerpt from a national news outlet via mobile phone: (insert screen capture here, please click to expand):
One would like to infer that Priebus and Day were not referring to the new president-elect as a new “king”. Unfortunately, what else could possibly be understood from these words?
Words have meaning. We’re taught this as children when it comes to name-calling of others. We’re also taught that “names will never hurt me”. That’s a pretty good visual of conflicting views, don’t you think?
Oh, no? “What does this have to do with business?”, you might ask. More than you think.
What You Meant vs. What Was Assumed
We all know what the word assume means. In this post, we could assume that both Priebus and Day meant the birth of the Christian Son of God, Jesus. It also could mean literally what the post says – that the president-elect is a new king in America. Yet, the scope and meaning may have been lost or confused because 1) it was rolled into a political post from political leaders; 2) other than wishing Americans a Merry Christmas and the presumptive meaning of renewed faith for the season and the incoming president-elect, the meaning of the post is not entirely clear, leading to assumptions that may not be entirely accurate.
Think back on our recent presidential election cycle. Go back to the name-calling by both presidential candidates. One intended to separate himself from his competitors. While this purpose was accomplished, the unintended consequence was the assumption, by many people, he will continue this sort of language as president — not a great way to gain allies.
The other, while trying to accomplish the same, also had the unintended consequence of isolating and separating herself from about half the voting population and inferring they were “bad people”. Not the best way to get people on your side.
From this post, could political adversaries conclude that the election means we now have a new king rather than a president? Yes, it could — and apparently, they did just that. The bigger questions: 1) is that what you truly meant to say; 2) why wasn’t your message written more clearly; and 3) how does this message relate to your brand?
Now, think of your own messages and posts for and about your business. What could your competitors conclude? What will your intended target market and audience conclude? Was this your intention — what you meant to have happened?
Watch Your Language!
Before you hit the Post or Publish button on your next status update or blog article, stop and read your words again.
- Is the language appropriate to the topic or your audience? Could you have chosen words that clearly stated what you meant vs. choosing words that make you seem important or educated? Will your audience have to look up any of the words you’re using in a dictionary?
- Is the message appropriate to the topic or your audience?
Will your message attract or isolate readers? Was this reaction deliberate? If not, how will your audience reach a more informed understanding?
- How does this message relate to your brand? If it doesn’t, why are you posting it? Is your brand experimenting with a new direction to capture a new audience? Are you venting a frustration or celebrating a victory of a situation that your brand did not participate indirectly?
Your intentions for your posts and articles should match your brand’s mission and vision statements. Choose your words wisely, lest you get “caught up in the moment” and post something you may regret later.
Be strategic. Be visible. Be found.
Image courtesy of a Fox News article.