Be Smart About Art

Guilty as charged: 'Letting yourself down with lazy communication'

written by: Susan Mumford Feb. 26, 2017 1) RECOMMENDED-> Susan Mumford + Chris King's Blog 1549 views

Guilty as charged: 'Letting yourself down with lazy communication'

from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here

Have you found yourself relaxing in the way you communicate with people online? Perhaps you drop formalities when it comes to direct messaging on social media?

From not using formal language to signing-off with your name, social media is often a place for informality. This can also be the same for long email chains, in which you stop addressing the other person by name two to three emails into the messages.

Yet, there’s an important distinction between adapting language style to digital channels and effectively communicating. However it seems that many people try to take advantage of the informality often associated with online communication, and end up not only coming across as being lazy, but also not providing a complete picture. The result is driving away people who might otherwise be ideally placed targets.  

Let me explain…

Here’s a message (more or less) that was recently received in my very own Facebook ‘Messenger’ account:

“Hello hun! Would you be kind enough to vote for my magazine cover? Here’s the link…”

That’s it. Nothing but this copied and pasted message that was likely sent to hundreds of friends. For all the recipients know, it could’ve been sent by the friend herself, an assistant, or with a mass-messaging tool like Green Inbox*.  

Instead of being interested in my friend’s opportunity, I thought it a waste of her time and mine that there wasn’t any effort to personalise or properly elucidate. As readers know, I’m a passionate supporter of small business owners, so when I see something like this, it saddens me to know that an opportunity has been missed. All the friend had to do was put a bit more consideration and care into the message.

For example:

“Hello Susan! I hope your travels between the USA and UK are going well.

I’m getting in touch as I’ve been shortlisted to be on the front cover of a magazine for women in business, a cause that you also support. In order to secure the feature, I have to win the top number of votes and am up against 24 other talented women.

YOUR vote will help make this happen, so please head over to the following link to vote, which takes only 30 seconds.

THANK YOU for your help, and please spread the word!”

Here are the six components of what’s been communicated in the new message: 

  • Addressing the specific recipient;
  • Personalising the opening line, in mind of that person;
  • Explaining the opportunity;
  • Highlighting why the recipient’s vote counts;
  • Thanking the recipient; and
  • Asking to spread the word.

The majority of the message could be copied and pasted. The effort to 1) address the recipient, 2) personalise the opening line, and 3) provide more context to the opportunity, challenge and WHY would result in addressees having a sense of coming onboard to something special.

Whenever you next decide to engage your own online community, be sure to not let yourself down with lazy communication. A bit of care and consideration will go a long way in achieving your aim and in maintaining active supporters and champions. 


*Green Inbox is a tool for sending large numbers of messages on social media channels. Interestingly, you can personalise messages by using the ‘First name’ in an account, for example Facebook, Twitter and Email. When Be Smart About Art ran a crowdfunding campaign in 2015, I opted to send a direct message to my personal followers on Twitter. It was more effective for the message to come from myself rather than a company brand. I decided that Facebook friends needed individual messages from yours truly, as such contacts are precious and deserve respect!  

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This is such a relevant post about communication. If you have time to write a short one liner then it's not going to take more effort to elaborate and be friendly. Imagine meeting someone in person and being so curt...