Web texts: Keep them relevant, not short!

These days a collegue told me that our social media texts were too long and that he knew that nobody actually reads such a bunch of written language. So texts have to be short and shortness is the number one touchstone of good web texts. Really?

It is true that reading a text on a smartphone screen is no fun. And even reading on a desktop computer might be challenging, because the temptation to click on a link next to or in the text or to start a video embedded into the website is huge. In general: Reading online comes with a much higher chance of distraction than reading a book or newspaper.


However, let’s have a look at an example of a Facebook post from Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German publicist, written on 25th May 2018:

Liebe Freunde, im Sommer letzten Jahres war ich 9 Tage in Nordkorea. Mein persönlicher Eindruck: Das Land hat sich Atomwaffen zugelegt, weil es seit 60 Jahren panische Angst hat, von den USA angegriffen zu werden. Diese Angst wird von Jahr zu Jahr größer. Nicht ganz zu Unrecht. Kein Staatschef der Welt will das Schicksal Saddam Husseins, Muammar Gaddafis und anderer US-kritischer Staatschefs erleiden. Obwohl ich das Regime in Pjöngjang ablehne, kann ich seine Angst nachvollziehen. Alle Machthaber der Welt, die die Unterwerfungspolitik der USA unterschätzten, mussten einen hohen Preis zahlen.
Der Tiger Nordkorea faucht die USA nicht aus Angriffslust an, sondern aus Angst. So wie ein Igel mit seinen aufgestellten Stacheln nicht angreifen, sondern sich verteidigen will. Nordkorea plant nicht, seine Atomwaffen präventiv gegen andere einzusetzen. Es weiß, dass es anschließend sofort vernichtet würde. Es will vielmehr jedem Angreifer klarmachen, dass er einen Überfall mit Millionen Toten bezahlen müsste. Nordkorea will Krieg verhindern. Weil es ihn verlieren würde.
Wenige Stunden, bevor Trump das Treffen mit Kim Jong Un absagte, hatte Nordkorea als „vertrauensbildende Maßnahme“ sein Atomwaffen-Testgelände in … im Beisein der internationalen Presse zerstört. Wird Nordkorea, das als Zeichen der Verhandlungsbereitschaft auch seine Raketentests gestoppt hatte, noch einmal Friedenssignale senden? Jetzt wo es weiß, dass es dafür wieder politische und militärische Ohrfeigen geben könnte? Und weitere Drohungen?
Trump liebt Schlagzeilen. Über sich natürlich. Ein Tag ohne Trump-Schlagzeile ist für ihn ein verlorener Tag. Krieg liefert die größten Schlagzeilen. Trump wird die Kriegsshow immer wieder suchen. Wirtschaftlich, militärisch. Gegen möglichst viele. Handelskriege, blutige Kriege. Und wenn die Welt zusammen fällt. Trumps weltpolitisches „Herum-Getrumpel“ ist zur Zeit die größte Gefahr für den Frieden. Trump scheint das Spaß zu machen. Ich finde es unverantwortlich. Und jeden Tag gefährlicher. Euer JT


The text constists of 285 words and 2,025 characters – definitely no short copy! By the 13th June 2018 8,942 people reacted on Mr. Todenhöfers post. 2,174 people shared it and some hundred comments were added. Why is there so much traffic around this post, which is everything else than short? Let me explore that:
Jürgen Todenhöfer has more than 730,000 followers on Facebook and he is known for his expertise in world politics. He reports the observations he made last summer on his stay in North Korea and then writes about recent developments in the relations between North Korea and the US, about nuclear weapons, war and peace, and he comments President Trumps behavior. Furthermore, the text is written in an easy to understand language with almost no redundancy.
These are issues a lot of people estimate and are interested. In addition to that, they seem to value what Jürgen Todenhöfer shares with them on the topic and see him as an expert. As a consequence they read and interact with the text. It is relevant to them. Relevant, because they feel personally attached to the topic and to the author.
It turns out that shortness is just one and certainly not the most important property of a good web text. More important than shortness is relevance of the content, the author’s reputation and expertise in the eye of the beholder as well as the relation of relevant information to the amount of text.

How to get rid of followers?!

Are you running an account on Facebook or Twitter for promoting your business and are you loosing followers?

By loosing followers I do not only mean that people dislike your site. I also mean that people start ignoring your activities, stop commenting and sharing you posts – even if they are still subscribed to your account or channel.

To be honest: Being ignored in social media feels even worse than being disliked or unsubscribed, doesn’t it? It tells you that people get so suck of your social media activities that they no longer care a straw.

I hope that you do better than I described it here. However, I want to share with you some ideas on mistakes you can and should avoid on social media.

Promotion over content

Yes, as an enterprise or freelancer you want to sell products, get more customers, make profit. And that’s okay. But nobody on Facebook or Twitter or Instagramm is interested in how much money you make. So people get annoyed about market crying rather sooner than later. Therefore: Give people something they like and they will like you. Share valuable content, useful information, tips and insights. For instance if you run a bakery, you could post receipts of your favorite sandwiches. Or you might come up with the newest food trends you got aware of on your holidays in Shanghai (or somewhere else :)) – content is king still holds!

Top-down communication

Be your followers best friend. Social media are by definition a level playing field. There is not a single player that is better or knows better than others. Of course there are differences and there is broad rage of people with different mindsets. But different does not mean better or worse or stronger or weaker. So respect everybody, don’t play the fault-finder. Be smart, be yourself!

Struggling with too many social media platforms

There a hundreds and thousands of social media platforms out there. So if you are creating a strategy to use them, you have to choose, which one fits best to you and your business. Maybe Facebook is enough to get in touch with your (potential) customers. And if so, you don’t need to add Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+. So stay focused on what is reasonable and manageable depending how much time and effort you can and want to invest in social media marketing.

Stopping or pausing – or reducing pace

Often, social media managers enthusiasticly start their online accounts, post twice or more a day, update, interact – I exaggerate. But the point is that starting with a high pace might lead to depression sooner or later. And falling behind oneself and the initial pace and quality of posting undermines your followers interest in your social media presence. Even if it sounds somewhat contradictory – because social media are fast moving – regularity and consistency are key to success!

Forgo Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, if …!

Facebook and other social media are great tools to promote a business. And many companies strengthened their brands by building huge communities on Facebook, acquiring a large number of followers on Twitter and Instagram. Examples are Samsung, McDonald’s, Netflix, Pizza Hut, Nike, Coca-Cola, Starbucks and many more.

However, does this mean that you should be present on social media in any case? Yes, if your customers are social-media-users, too. No, if they don’t use social media.


The logic behind this answer is straightforward and takes just some basic knowledge in communication theory (and practice). Even the simplest communication model teaches you that communication happens and succeeds, when a receiver gets and understands a message from a sender in a certain code through a certain channel. Communication fails if one of these parameters leaks – no sender means no message means no communication; no receiver means nobody, who gets and understands the message; wrong code means confusion means communication breakdown. And: Wrong channel means communication failure.

A channel is adversely choosen, if it doesn’t connect the sender with the receiver. For instance you can’t hit me by e-mail, if I don’t check my mail box. In this case a phone call would be a better option, because I always have my cell phone on and with me.

The same is true for social media. If a social media platform, say Facebook, doesn’t connect your business with your (potential) customers, then don’t use it! For instance you are steel producer and you deliver tons of steel to large enterprises in the heavy industry. Do you believe that you get a single contract by using Facebook? For sure you won’t. The same is true, if you run an investment bank and you do wealth management for high end private banking clients. These clients won’t show up on social media and if they do, then most probably for leisure or hobby, only, but rather not for business purposes. So again, social media turns out to be a waist of time for you and your business.

So the bottom line of my note is this: Promote your business by using social media channels, if – and only if! – your (potential) customers use social media, too. But forgo Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, if your (potential) customers refuse to use it.

Faktist (3). Vögel bauen Nester – und ganze Sätze

Vögel kommunizieren miteinander, indem sie aus einzelnen Rufen auf verschiedene Weisen Sätze bilden.

Ein Team von Forschern aus Japan, Schweden und der Schweiz beobachteten, wie Japanmeisen auf das Zwitschern von Artgenossen reagieren. Sie zeichneten die Einzelrufe auf, fügten sie zu Sequenzen wie „ABC“, „D“ oder „ABC-D“ zusammen und spielten sie über einen Lautsprecher dem Vogelschwarm vor.

Als die Forscher die Lautfolge „ABC-D“ abspielten, versammelten sich die Japanmeisen und griffen den Lautsprecher an, wie wenn dieser ein Feind wäre. Liessen die Wissenschaftler hingegen den Satz „D-ABC“ erklingen, zeigten die Vögel keine Reaktion.

Folglich tragen unterschiedliche Abfolgen, sprich: Sätze, einzelner Rufe, sprich: Wörter, unterschiedliche Bedeutungen in der Vogelsprache. Dies verhält sich so wie in der menschlichen Kommunikation: „Ein Feind greift an.“ bedeutet etwas völlig anderes als „Einen Feind angreifen.“

Quelle: http://www.curiosity.com


Why does communication so often fail?

Recently, I attended a seminar on «Communication and Business Performance». The lecturer introduced the topic with the question, why communication so often fails. This is one of these naive, but epiphanic questions, which hit you like a flash, because you have never though about them. As nobody in the class forwarded an answer, the lecturer explained, what lead him to ask this beautiful question.

We all professionals in communication, but …

He startet with Watzlawicks first axiom of communication: You can not not communicate. According to Watzlawick communication happens all the time, even if you do not speak, lying in your bed with closed eyes and plugs in your ears. The message you send to somebody, who calls you, is : «Sorry, I am sleeping and will not take your call». So the absence of speach is in itself a kind of communication. That is what Watzlawicks first axiom is about.

And sheds light on why everyone of us has been communicating in every moment for the whole lifetime. As I am 36 years old, I have 36 years experience in the field. Therefore I am supposed to be an expert in communicating. And so are you!

But look at daily life. How many times you feel that you were missunderstood or that your collegue did not get the point you wanted you show him? And how often does it happen that you and your collegue talk, talk and talk without coming to a common understanding? Hence, my lecturer put his finger on situations, in which everyone is captured several times a day, but nobody understands why and how to get out of them. Why are there so many missunderstandings?

What follows in this text is not a theory or something like that. There are just a few thoughts about the problem to give you an idea, why communication can fail – and actually fails. However, I will not name each and every possible source of communication failure, but just the important ones. To this end I will employ a communication model. It is a really simple one, contains a sender and a receiver, the message and the communication channel. Furthermore it depicts «noise», which represents anything outside the relation between sender and receiver that could affect the communication adversely.


A story of communication failure

Peter and Christine study at the same university. They regularily go for lunch together, and so they do this Monday. They are sitting at a table talking to each other. Let us now have a closer look at what happens. Peter, let us say, is the sender. That is, he has an idea in mind, which he would like to share with Christine. Having an idea is, in general, not a source of communication failure, because an idea arises within the mind of a person. Christine will not get aware of Peters idea, unless he encodes it in a language he and Christine are familiar with and speaks his thoughts out. By the term language I do not just mean English, German, French, Spain an the like, but also the wordings as well as the styles or slangs an official language contains. So Peter should choose the proper words to talk to Christine. For instance: «What are your plans for next weekend?» is much more understandable for Christine, decent young lady, than «What’s the deal for next Sunday?». Hence, the first source of missunderstandings is the encoding of an idea into a language and style that the receiver is not familiar with.


Next the communication model tells you that the message gets to the receiver through a channel. For instance Peter can talk to Christine face to face. But he can also decide to share his idea with Christine by sending her a SMS or an e-mail, even if both of them are sitting next to each other. By doing so Peter would risk that communication fails for one of these two reasons: Christine finds it strange to get an e-mail from somebody she is sitting at the same table and refuses to answer. Secondly, Christines smartphone is off as it always is over lunch. Again, there will be no conversation. The second source of communication failure is the choise of the wrong channel, a message is passed from the sender to the receiver.

As Christines ears pick up Peters sending, her brain will decode the message and it will produce an idea or image, which should be as similiar as possible to the one Peter initially had in mind. However Christine might missinterpret what Peter said. For instance: Peter asked her, what she is planning for the next weekend. She might understand either «Peter is interessed in my hobbies» or «Peter wants to meet me on Saturday evening». For her, the first interpretation feels pleasent, the second awkward. Depending on her interpretation Christine will choose, how to answer Peters question. The decoding of a message by the receiver is a third source of communication failure.

Last but not least, there is noise. Noise in general means disturbances arising from the environment and affecting a system, situation or activity antagonisticly to purpose. So in the case of the conversation between Peter and Christine, noise would come from all the other people talking to each other, from a radio playing in the backgroud or from the kitchen, in which the cooks rattle with pans and dishes. As the noise gets so intensive that Peter and Christine can no longer understand a word, communication between them fails.

Let me end with a short summary : Misstaken encoding and decoding, wrong choise of the channel and noise are four of the main reasons, why communication fails.