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Being Real

by Randall Craig on May 13, 2013

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , , ,

What’s your reaction when you read a company newsletter, instruction manual, or other corporate communication?  You probably think it sounds plastic, anti-septic, and homogenized.  If so, you’re like most people – they see corporate-speak as fake, and they can sniff it a mile away.

The best communicators have always known that effective writing connects at an emotional level with the reader – no matter the topic.  And what is most effective in social media is precisely this, along with a one-on-one connection between two people.  This is true even if one person is a representative of a corporate brand or an organization.

Unfortunately, this point has been missed by many corporate communicators, who have blindly transplanted their impersonal corporate voice onto the social web.  Or worse, who have adopted a breezy hipster tone that is so far removed from the corporate brand, that it is laughable.

Here are four ways to get real in your social conversations, especially on Twitter:

1) Avoid the passive – it removes the writer from the equation.

  • Wrong:  Mistakes were made.
  • Right: We made a mistake.

2) Speak for yourself – “We” shunts responsibility somewhere else.

  • Wrong:  We apologize for disappointing you.
  • Right:  I am sorry that we disappointed you.

3) Avoid jargon and speak plainly – jargon hides and distances

  • Wrong:  We strive to exceed expectations and provide a great service experience
  • Right:  We goofed, and promise to do better.

4) Be engaging – remember that a conversation takes place when two people are engaged, not just one.

  • Wrong:  “… and that is our approach.”
  • Right:  “…and that is our approach – what has worked for you?”

This week’s action item:  Review your conversations on the social web to see if you can be more “real”, and less fake.  And while you’re at it, do a double-check on your print collateral and website: what would it take to make you be just a little bit more real?

Postscript:  How did I do?  When you read this post (or any of my posts, for that matter), do you get a sense that there is a real person who wrote it?  That the topic – and my style –  is more real than plastic?  Of course, there is always room to do better:  what would you suggest?

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

PS:  My firm now publishes a no-spam high-value monthly newsletter, the one-o-eight.  It’s filled with more content and news you can use.  To subscribe, fill in the form here.

@RandallCraig (follow me)


Randall has been advising on Digital Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of eight books, including Digital Transformation for Associations, the Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business, and Social Media for Business. He speaks and advises on Digital Transformation, Digital Trust, and Social Media. More at

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