Speaking social media ….


As a 21st-century communications professional, I completely understand the importance of social media. But as an English graduate I admit to feeling a sense of nostalgia for the time when words were the primary method of communication.

When texting first became the ‘in thing’, my children would scoff when I sent them messages with every word spelt out in full, as well as commas, semicolons and full stops. I could just not bring myself to use text speak, even if it took me far longer to send a short message asking them what time they would be back for dinner. Even now I still write “Are you ok?” when I have not heard from them for a few days, rather than “R u ok?”.

Different social media channels also seem to have their own languages, which can be confusing. I speak fluent Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and use WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram when necessary. I have heard of Yammer, Vine and Tumblr but there appear to be new channels appearing every day. A quick search came up with Thumb, RebelMouse, Ning, Xing, Listgeeks and Tsu – none of which I have used so far.

When I use Trisha Hewitt Communications channels I still try to use correct spelling and grammar. The tone may be more informal than press releases, and you have less space to get your message across, but years of English lessons have made it impossible to completely abandon my standards!

Things are more complicated when working for different clients. One might want eye-catching headlines and images, with very short sentences used on their Facebook channel, and another might prefer their post to have more detail but with lots of emojis.

Ah yes… emojis.

There are now emojis for every conceivable emotion, activity and object: whether you’re feeling sad, angry, shocked, scared or tired, there’s an image you can use to relay that emotion (although successfully conveying your message does rather rely on whether the recipient also speaks emoji and recognises what you are trying to say). And it does not end there. There are emojis for all kinds of objects (I often use the ones for shoes), as well as for food and drink, travel and places, activity and sports, animals, types of weather and flags.

Soon we might not even need words at all to communicate. But although I understand the importance of communicating via popular channels, of moving with the times and of being able to reach a wider range of people with your messages, I can’t quite bring myself to communicate completely using images just yet. I still love words too much!