Conversational Social By Design: Get Rid Of The Geek Speak!
Ditch the Dweeb Discourse!
When you’re a geek you have a language all your own (OK, the other geeks understand – sometimes). As a self-professed geek (card carrying frequent ThinkGeek shopper who casually peppers conversation with Star Wars, Marvel Movie and Princess Bride quotes), I work hard to keep my social voice just that. SOCIAL.
Ever been cornered by the enthusiastic web developer at a Business After Hours event? The horrors! While his/her enthusiasm is initially charming, the egregious elocution soon becomes an assault on your ability to show even the minimum of polite interest. Sure, you know that CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets, but you never know they were a topic on which you’d be expected to feign interest for fifteen minutes or more. You poor soul. Go get yourself that martini – and treat yourself to extra olives!
At least at the BAH event you can hope a friend or colleague will notice your glassy, unfocused eyes and come to our rescue. When this type of activity occurs online it can be hard to “step away”, as our choices are limited to unfollowing or muting. Which is sad, because we geeks have a lot of wonderful and valuable information to share. We just have to sort out how to do it without boring or bombarding our audience.
I’ve chosen to detail three types of geek speak today, but know there are dozens of geeky sub-dialects.
Every industry and niche within that industry has a language of its own. It’s part of business culture, we strive to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and it’s easy to do so with language. However, the propensity to make things more difficult than they need to be is a growing concern among the brotherhood of geeks. We can differentiate and still be easily and readily understood. Word choice is a key part of communication best practice. The way you choose to express yourself, the words you choose to share can make a difference – good or bad – when it comes to making that connection, taking it up a notch to a real relationship and even a future sale.
There are several types of jargon to avoid:
- Acronyms: Sure. Cute little three letter abbreviations make it easy to get our point across, especially on Twitter. But, too many can clutter the conversation requiring those with whom you are speaking to search their brain bank to equate those letters with real meaning. While they’re doing that they aren’t listening and nothing you’re saying has any real impact.
- Buzzwords: While we understand the meaning, they’re so often repeated and so often misused that they no longer have value, i.e. “engagement”. When buzz words pepper your conversation you’ll find your audience tuning out and taking no note of what you have to offer.
- Niche/Industry Specific Verbiage:
Speech or writing that uses too many words or excessively technical expressions. Synonyms
Name Dropping: A.K.A. (Wanna Be) Geek Chic Clique
I’ve seen a real rise in this of late, and it takes me careening back to high school. Yes, HIGH SCHOOL. Remember that second-tier group of wanna-be popular kids? The ones that hung on every word of the reigning cool kids, the popular crowd? Instead of finding ways to stand out on their own, through sport, drama, or extracurricular activities, they made sure that the group of students they deemed third-tier heard them name and event dropping in an elusive bid to appear popular and cool. The funny thing was, that supposed third-tier were the real cool kids. The ones that were secure in their own skin, pleased to be part of a circle of friends – no matter the size, with shared interests and ideals.
Now, look to social business and social media marketing. There’s certainly a list of cool kids – and just like high school some stay for the long haul and some drop off into oblivion, forgotten and even frowned upon. And there’s definitely that second-tier eagerly waiting in the wings, name dropping and link sharing with no intent except to get notice, offering no unique value-added ideas or opinions to the discussion. As with high school, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s that third tier that makes the biggest impression. Comfortable in their own skin, able to share and discuss ideas and differing opinions, striving to add to and benefit the conversation.
Of course I share links from bigger names. Names like Jeff Bullas, Jon Loomer, Mari Smith, etc. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing and discussing great content and ideas. But I do not engage in tagging volleys and comments for commenting’s sake in order to ensure the cool kids take notice. If they do take notice, great. Wonderful even. But it’s not the end goal, it’s not my intent and purpose. That intent and purpose is to create discussions with those who want to learn, laugh, lead and launch their own initiatives. It’s a cool place to be!
You know what I’m talking about. These are the people that tell you that Twitter is the greatest thing since sliced bread and is going to out-American apple pie, but never seem to do anything except share articles from the same ten sources. It’s the people who wax rhapsodic about Facebook while at the same time wondering why they are getting less response to the same tired inspirational quotes layered over sunset images.
No matter how much we prefer a certain social business platform over another, we know two things:
A one-trick pony isn’t going to win first prize
Almost everything that provides value can also put us in debt
Rose colored glasses create a pretty pink hue, but they also obscure the fact that if we want change, we have to ask for it, even clamor for it. If we get moored too deep into platform lovin’, no matter the reason, we miss the opportunity to help shape the platforms for the greater good – creating real relationships and valuable discussions.
In closing, geek speak is often used as a crutch when we can’t engage in real interactive conversation. As stated by many of my industry peers and friends, we all want to converse and connect with real people. Lose the geek speak and get to the good stuff. Real conversation!
Have I missed a particularly nefarious or heinous type of geek speak? If so, please share via a comment below. Only together can we create the kinds of conversation that educate, entertain and enlighten.