The Most Horrific, Deadly and Utterly Disasterous Catastrophe Known to PR
Got your attention? I thought so…that headline is…uh, kind of overblown, right? I was making a point, but here’s the deal.
The overuse of hyperbolic language in social media is not really helping your brand. Yeah, I said it. And it’s the most important thing you will ever read in your life, so be sure you understand what I’m saying. *giggle*
Using words to catch people’s eyeballs is not actually our job anymore. It used to be. The broadcast model, which some of you are still obviously operating under, required it. Bang the drum repetition and steel-trap consistent branding (stick to the talking points, d*%@mn it!) were pretty much fare of the day. The sparkly object syndrome still worked. Problem is, times are a’changin’!
Eyeballs alone are not the currency anymore. Brand awareness doesn’t equal ROI like it used to (frankly, if it ever did). Attention with engagement is the White Whale now and that is NOT the same thing as eyeballs. “Made you look” no longer equals sales with the consistency the C-suite will be happy with going into the future.
In the old world, before social media and the engagement economy, repetition was our only resource. People weren’t glued to the TV or the radio (or smart phone!) all the time. You had to repeat your message to make sure it was received. Sex appeal was only slightly touched on, and it was often too scandalous for mainstream. Mainstream was all there was, so repetition reigned. The ad guys of old had somewhat limited opportunities to drive a consistent message so they told us again and again and again what we should think and buy.
Repetition has lost much of its impact. Many people simply ignore commercials now. The eyeballs you long for can easily tune you out and they are doing so in droves. People have choices now and they are exercising them. Carpet-bombing outreach is losing efficacy.
So, to escalate the eyeball grab, some marketers (and PR people, if you feel you are not a marketer by official definition) have moved to extreme hyperbolic language. And it works to some degree – the recent hyperbolically titled post here on CommPRO.biz received a huge spike in traffic – but again, attention doesn’t mean approval. A couple of blog posts sprung up criticizing the wording. People will talk bad about you even when they’ve paid attention.
For the “all publicity is good publicity” crowd (another symptom of broadcast model thinking), a spike in traffic alone might be considered a win, but the C-suite is calling – did your exaggeration stunt make you sales? Did the attention serve the brand or just you? Did you create revenue from having blog posts written up citing how unprofessional you are?
That’s not a rhetorical question and, depending upon your industry, it could go either way. It could work in your favor, but truthfully, though, it doesn’t always (and may put you out of business). It’s our jobs to know the results of our efforts – the real results that are in actual alignment with the goals and mission of who we serve. If we aren’t paying attention to that, what the heck are we doing?
If we sit smug in our office, celebrating how many people read our overblown stuff, the next questions in our mind should be “What’s my conversion factor of that post? Did I generate relevant sentiment on the social graph that I can leverage? Is the sales staff getting a rush of phone calls because people can’t wait to work with the person who so brilliantly snarked off that perspective? Did anything come of it that matters to my boss and career?”
Not everything we write (blog, blurb, status update, etc.) will have an exact and direct connection with results but if we vibe on a theme that includes hyperbolic language as part of our persona and brand, the trend will become clear. It’s a fair question to ask – is what you’re doing helping or hurting?
Attention isn’t enough. Eyeballs aren’t enough. “Made you look” isn’t enough. Period, end of story.
Lest I forget to mention the dark side of sales and marketing – the most epic, amazing and fantastically awesome answer to all the world’s problems in one easy, astonishing and life changing profession *irony* – it’s not better to be hyperbolic in the positive either. You’re making your listeners tired. Enough already!
Perhaps I protest too much. So, I’ll ask – as a reader, why do you respond to hyperbolic language? You know we’ll all stop using it when it stops working so well. Why do you click through? Post your thoughts below.
Til next time!
Vicki @Smartwoman Flaugher
[graphic by History In An Hour]