Overused words

David Meerman Scott, using Dow Jones Insight, has analysed 711,123 US press releases from 2008 for gobbledygook i.e. words and phrases that do not mean anything.

He found 51,390 instances of the word “innovative”. Although he does not say how many releases this relates to, since some releases may use the word several times, it is fair to assume that tens of thousands of releases use “innovative” to describe new services, new products or even the company behind them.

But just because the use of the word does not make the release stand out, does that make “innovative” into goobledygook?

I would argue that it is perfectly reasonable to use the word “innovative”, if it is true.

It is a perfectly good adjective to distinguish the subject from something that talks about price cuts, re-organisation, customer wins, and many other important aspects of business which are not necessarily innovative.

The crucial thing is for the press release to be able to describe what the innovation is in a clear way that convinces readers that it is something new, and just as importantly, something significant.

Significant, that is, to the reader. If it is only significant to the company issuing the release, then it is not worth mentioning.

Chief Social Officer? No Thanks

An article in Business Mirror Online Space today talks about the four challenges social media poses for business. One of these is integration, and the article suggests (but does not endorse) the idea of a chief social officer.

The idea of such a post misunderstands how businesses should be using social media. It has to be integrated into the way employees work, as a way of communicating with colleagues, customers, prospects or suppliers. It is a rich tool to enable quick communication and feedback so as to deepen the understanding and relationships between the different parties.

So just as you do not have a chief email officer or a chief telephone conversation officer, you do not need or want a chief social officer. Someone has to provide and control the infrastructure and tools for social media – the job of an up to date IT department – but then it is a matter of training employees to use these, as you would for other tools.

Not that the training should be treated lightly. Social media is incredibly powerful in allowing quick, unvetted messages which have the potential to be broadcaset widely. So it is vital that everyone in a business knows what they are trying to say and what standards and ethics apply when using social media.

If your company has a good culture, social media is a fantastic way to enhance your brand since you can have many ambassadors for the culture. The key is the production of individual communications, which convey the personality of the communicator rather than a faceless organisation’s carefully prepared messages, while at the same time reflecting the organisation’s underlying principles.

Benefits from using Web 2.0 – McKinsey report

Interesting article from McKinsey who have surveyed companies asking what Web 2.0 technologies they have used and what benefits they have gained.

The majority of those surveyed reported significant gains in at least one area, whether they were using the technologies internally or for external communication. But the reported gains were nearly all rounded (e.g. 15% or 20%) which suggests they were not accurately measured. The one area where precise measurements were recorded was in increasing the effectiveness of marketing (for awareness, consideration, conversion and loyalty) so the respondents seem to be making use of available measurement tools.

It is worth reading the report to note the development of leaders who are using several technologies effectively and also the way that India is alongside North America as the region making the most use.