In this digital age, I have been noticing a couple of trends that are frustrating. As an avid Twitter user, I know what it is like to try and compress a compelling concept into a 140-character tweet when dealing with branding or marketing, generating interest. But one of the upshots of our micro-messaging culture is that I believe we becoming more vague. For example, I got message from a LinkedIn connection. “Can anyone refer to me a XML specialist?? ” That’s it. She is a technical recruiter, so I assumed it was for a job or project, but this sort of shortened, vague “teaser” is really frustrating. My response was, “What kind of specialist?” Dev, Tech Writer, Content Specialist, Instructional Designer/Trainer? I mean, come on, a “specialist” is vaguer than vague. She replied with an actual job posting. My first thought is, “well why couldn’t you just add a bit.ly link to your original blurb”? I mean, really. I honestly believe she is conditioned to communicate this way. It’s no different than the frustration we, as recruiters, feel when we are sourcing candidates off of LinkedIn who have nothing more than their company and titles on their profiles, yet state that they are open to “career opportunities”. So TELL me something worthwhile about yourself.
Another thing that really bothers me (and this is part and parcel of the writer in me) are tweets or FB postings or any other sort of link to an article of interest that directs a reader to a portal that aggregated content from the original link. To me this is borderline dishonest. I manage an international HR Yahoo Group, and there is one person that always tries to do this. He has a website, his “blog” which is nothing more than a series of links that he has gathered (NOT submitted by others) and reproduced in its entirety. The link to the original article is actually the hotlink for the author’s name. Since there *is* proper credit to the author and there is a link, it isn’t a copyright violation. But to me it is just a lazy way of generating content, of labeling oneself as an “expert”. “Ooo look at me. I have all these articles on XYZ on my blog.” Bully for you; you know how to run a Google search and import text. NOT impressed.
But more than this, I see these trends as a form of laziness. Our conversations are becoming more and more mini-byte sized, as we strive to communicate complex messages in fewer and fewer words, we are negatively impacting our own brands, reputation, and the quality of the talent we attract and retain. Who wants to work for, or refer a top industry colleague to, someone that appears to be unable to write the few extra words to complete a concept? I know I don’t.