A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend of mine. He’s a social media consultant. He gets paid thousands and thousands of dollars to help companies with their social media strategies. During the middle of the meal, he leaned forward and confessed something quietly, “I know I’m supposed to be using Google +, but I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing.”
And as silly as that might sound, I feel the same way.
I’m pretty sure it’s awesome. I mean it’s Google, after all! Who doesn’t love Google? But whenever I check in or log in or whatever verb you use when interacting with +, I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do.
I’m positive there must be some stream of conversation going on somewhere within the platform. There must be some reason it’s awesome, but I can’t find it. So, after a few minutes of poking around I return to the platforms I do know how to use, Twitter and Facebook.
And it turns out, so do a lot of other people. The Wall Street Journal reported that, “Visitors using personal computers spent an average of about three minutes a month on Google+ between September and January, versus six to seven hours on Facebook each month over the same period, according to comScore, which didn’t have data on mobile usage.”
Will Google + bounce back? Maybe. That team is brilliant, but they won’t until they fix one thing: clarity.
Clarity is the way you carve out some space in the cluttered social media world. It’s how you tell readers and followers and fans and customers, “This is what I’m all about.” It’s your idea stripped down to its bare essentials, so that the most distracted generation in the history of mankind can instantly understand where you fit in the social media landscape.
This one takes time. No blog ends up a year later being exactly the way you planned it. No social media campaign does exactly what you expected it would. The only way you develop your voice is by using your voice. And often you have to use that voice for 6 months to a year until you’ve got clarity.
My blog is an example of that. I know exactly what Stuff Christians Like is. I have a sense of clarity about that. I have very clear rules for guest posts because I know the voice of the site. I’ve been writing it for 4 years. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday are satire. Wednesday is Serious Wednesday. Friday is a guest post.
This blog? JonAcuff.com? I’m not there yet. Sometimes I write about parenting. Sometimes I write about writing. Sometimes I write about chasing your dream. Sometimes I write about social media. Can all those topics play together? Sure, but I haven’t figured out how yet. I don’t have great clarity.
To use the store metaphor, clarity is why Apple doesn’t sell 100 different laptops and desktops. When Steve Jobs returned in the 1990s, he started editing their product line. He winnowed it down to just the bare essentials. They make 4 primary products: iPod, iPad, iPhone and Mac.
They have tremendous clarity about who they are and how they do things.
They communicate everything they do with clarity.
If you want to dominate social media, you need to do that too. If you redesign your blog every month, I’ll never learn how to engage with it. If you make your social media activity so complicated I need a manual to figure out how to engage with you, I won’t.
That was the brilliance of Instagram, as a friend pointed out to me. He said, “Do you know why Instagram was able to enter an incredibly crowded social media landscape, photo apps, and dominate? They said ‘no.’ They resisted the urge to add features and features and features. They fought to keep their core competency and did a very small number of things brilliantly.”
He’s right. I tweeted about 50 photos in three years because the process was clunky. Then Instagram came on the scene with off the charts clarity. In less than a year, I’ve posted over 500 photos to Instagram. That’s the power of clarity.
In the old school, “Who? What? When? Where? Why?” model of journalism, content is the “What?” context is the “Where?” and clarity is the “How?”
How will you share your message?
How will people engage with you online?
How will your content be simply and powerfully presented?
On the next post of this series, we’ll talk about the fourth word, “Consistency.”
On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “people have no idea what I’m trying to say online” and 10 being, “people know exactly what I’m all about,” how do you rank on clarity?
Read more about Jon here.