Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Call It Anything, ...But Call It!

Working with many different types of people means encountering all kinds of interpretations and reactions to seemingly innocuous words. I remember Jeff De Cagna saying, '"If you want to see an association exec's head explode just say the word, "wiki."'

Other popular social tech words still have this same effect for many people. Here are several that I've observed people grapple with within the past week:
  • Social Media
  • Twitter (and anything "twelated" to Twitter)
  • Wiki
  • Blog
  • Augmented reality
  • Mobile tech
  • Location-based tech
Social Media is a newer type of communication that mostly falls into the same patterns that apply to any type of common sense rules about relating information to people: Don't lie. Get to the point. Be human.

What I hate is watching someone who has much experience and intelligence shut down because of a lack of understanding with new words that apparently seem threatening. As a result, I (and others around me) have been attempting to find better ways to get our messages across without using what we might consider the most descriptive or accurate words in our immediate grasp. "Social Media" becomes "electronic marketing" or "emerging media" or "enhanced communication channels" because of our listener's preconceived notion that social media is what 12-year-olds do and is some kind of kiddish fad that could cause more problems than solve.

There are many reasons why these fearful people should hear past their trigger words. You can read blogs by this person, this person, and this person and get a good idea of why it is a good idea to give up misgivings about particular words in order to see a more important lesson...that social media is not a fad and your biggest risk is not getting involved at all.

Anyone have stories to share about crafting your language to avoid scaring off the Luddites in your midst?

What words scare you? When I start hearing people talk about sports and the stock market, should I really be looking at that as an opportunity to educate myself and not to shut my listening down?

What say ye, dear readers?


  1. Here're three words/phrases from three worlds to not fear!

    Facebook: a 24/7 dinner party at your place where ALL your non-luddite friends keep popping in and out as they please.

    Canadian Stocks: a very very good thing, the older the better.

    Racing Line: The one way to dance a car through a sequence of turns in the shortest possible time - and keep it in one piece.. unless it's the final lap :) in which case multiple pieces will do too..

  2. Hi Kiki,

    I find it very interesting to read US bloggers who write about social media in the association world because here in Canada, I think we're at least 2-3 years behind in every respect. I have not seen many association execs engage their membership with social media very well. Too many are either scared or think that it only applies to their kids and not to them!

    So keep showing us the way... love to read what you have to say.

  3. I'm so glad you are bringing up the fact that many think social media is kiddish. I suppose it's the newness of the concept that has earned it that reputation. But just like anything, it's how you use it that matters ( Some people are going to tweet or blog about how Starbucks messed up their order, while others are going to explore the questions of the universe. Different people, different uses and levels of use.

    I don't shape my language around what others find more palatable. I just focus on why it's helpful. Whenever I'm learning a new concept, it's more important to me to know why before I fully embrace the what. For those of us who are believers we have to understand that it takes more than one time, more than one explanation, to make a believer. If memory serves me, I had to receive ten friend requests before I'd join Facebook.

    Thanks Kiki.

  4. My fear words are economic downturn, WHO incident..hope these will never happen again.

    Hospitality Resume


Thanks for your comments!