Posts Tagged hippie2dot0

Know your audience

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

unlovable_dalepartridgeIt seems like such simple and straightforward advice, doesn’t it? Knowing who you are talking to isn’t much of a stretch, most of us think we know exactly who we are talking to via social media, but do we really?

Your audience may or may not be who you think they are.  For some blogs, the distinction of a particular audience may be clearly defined, for others an audience may bleed over into many differing perspectives and entry points for your content. The sooner, and more clearly you can identify the audience for your blog, the better your posts may become.

By way of example, I want to talk about a particular post which a friend of mine shared a day or so back. This post has some good advice, but the author missed the audience, and by doing so has likely alienated a larger swath of people:

“5 steps for loving the unlovable”

Dale’s post starts out simply enough: the intent is to help us all be better people by loving those who least deserve it. Good, solid advice to help us all improve our culture and become a more understanding and cohesive society. But, I’m having some difficulty in reconciling his second point with the title of the piece. In it Dale states:

  “Don’t Reinforce Their Brokenness – As a broken person myself, it’s rare that I don’t recognize my own brokenness. Talk about their strengths. Broken people need less awareness, and more healing.”

Yet, the title of the article “5 steps for loving the unlovable” clearly reinforces the idea that broken people are concretely unlovable. Dale’s voice here seems to be talking directly to people who don’t consider themselves as ‘broken’, and by virtue of this contradiction between advice and title, seems to assume that broken people won’t be reading his post. In fact, his voice generates an “us” and “them” focus that undermines his larger point.

But how would knowing his audience have improved his post? Let’s start with the assumption that those reading Dale’s post are both types of people as defined in his post: those who are ‘broken”, and everyone else. Not a huge stretch here as most people can identify as broken at one point in their lives, if not presently so. With this single, simple understanding that his audience comprises both types, I would expect a more focused choice of words to show compassion and love, rather than the subtle tone of superiority and conflicting messages present in the article as written.

A change in voice is a simple way to adjust for the audience. Given his recognition of being broken himself, rather than using “them” and “their”, a shift to “us” and “we” immediately changes the tone of the article to be more welcoming and inclusive as well as generating a feeling of deeper compassion and connectedness. With that single change, Dale could both drive home the overarching point of his article, while also combating the polarizing effects of the us versus them mindset which permeates our internet culture today. The recognition of an audience that is also broken would have guided Dale’s word choice to more effectively deliver his message.

Knowing your audience doesn’t mean you have to write directly to every different perspective. Rather, knowing your audience means understanding and acknowledging the differing perspectives and allowing those perspectives to help guide you as you create; leading you to the right word choices will do wonders to improve your following and reduce the potential for alienating a previously unknown audience segment.

The intrinsic fallacy of “I don’t have time for that”

Posted by on Wednesday, 19 June, 2013

IMG_0646There is no such thing as a lack of time. Anyone who tells you they don’t have time for something is outright lying to your face. What they are really saying is that your request or idea just isn’t a priority for them. And yes, I am just as guilty as anyone for saying I don’t have the time….

Unlike finances (which have a more relative scale), everyone on this planet has 24 hours in their day: no more, and with few exceptions, no less. So as it stands, we are all on an equal playing field with the same boundaries and limitations. The differences are seen by how we prioritize that time.

Sometimes when looking at new requests, we may need to rethink our current prioritizations, or more deeply, what the actual time impact of the request is. Take, for example, the idea that you want to start blogging… if you’ve read my prior post on the hidden costs of social engagement you may be less than inclined to take on such an endeavor… but what if I told you that you really do have time for blogging and that you’re likely already 9/10ths of the way there? Don’t believe me? Well, you have time to send email, right?

If you are sending email to more than one person on cc:, then you have time to blog. As my friend and social business colleague Ryan Boyles recently pointed out via his tumblr post: Doc Searls explained back in 2004 that “Blogging is Email cc: World.”   I’ve previously called this concept “scalable communication”, but I think that misses the simplicity and understandable nature of “cc: world”. The simplicity of one-to-many passive communication is the brilliance of social media. And, of course, as Ryan notes: tweeting is just like texting cc:world.

No, I am not saying stop emailing and make everything you write a blog post. But what I am saying is that just one wider audience email message could be easily converted into a blog post allowing for blogging to step up in priority without sacrificing something else in that time slot. With just a quick shift in perspective, you now have time to blog without a heavy toll on your time.

As we progress towards more open and transparent communication, with sharing our own expertise online becoming more important to our future careers, why not re-prioritize and start blogging once a week or so as your own email cc:ing the world? So, where is social involvement ranked in your priority list now that you have the time?

Culture change, innovation, and the necessity of disruption

Posted by on Thursday, 30 May, 2013

IMG_3127-origI was challenged this week to use the word “errant” in something I wrote. This challenge, not surprisingly, came from a friend’s off-handed comment about an errant pickle on my sandwich, meant to poke fun at my own strict sense of what a Cuban sandwich should be and how it should be presented. (I’ll say right now that it was a fabulous meal that I’d order time and time again, but didn’t quite meet the definition of what a Cuban sandwich is. Yes, I’m pedantic, but I can still appreciate a great meal even when it doesn’t quite fit.) She enjoyed the idea, and the word, so much she challenged me to use it…

While I contemplated how to work the word in to my daily writing, I realized that the word itself tied directly in to my work in social business at a strategic and conceptual level, as the connotation of “errant” implies a negative while the denotation can actually become a positive.

Let me explain: Trying to be a change agent is hard. Changing culture is hard. But, what is often perceived as errant behaviour is one of the most critical pieces to accomplishing any success in changing a culture or being truly innovative. It is the dissent, the disruption, that many see as problematic but is critically necessary to break the culture out of its comfort zone and become more open to new ideas; ideas that may initially seem errant, but grow to become better methods or ideologies and ultimately change culture with positive effect.

Errant ideas or behaviour are simply that which stray from what is considered proper or standard. While this can indeed be negative or harmful in some ways, can also be positive and beneficial when thought and consideration is applied with informed intent. By way of example I point to the disruptive technology we know as Twitter: when used with informed intent the service can be an amazing agent for change by allowing perceived errant behaviour and ideas to be organized into an effective force for revolution.

Be it toppling ineffective governments or organizing against corporate greed, disruptive technology and the people who use them are on the forefront of culture change. Without our ability to stray from the standards, we doom ourselves to a stagnant and unsuccessful existence.