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Context: The Killer of Confusion

This month we were very fortunate to have Bryan Kramer as our guest on #PEXCardChat, which will take place September 18th at 2:00 pm EST. @BryanKramer is the Founder and CEO of@PureMatterin Silicon Valley, author of Human to Human, and listed as a Top 50 Global Social CEO by @Forbesand @HuffingtonPost. We will be featuring excerpts from Bryan’s book, “Human to Human,” in the weeks leading up to his TweetChat with PEX Card.

Context: The Killer of Confusion
Words are just words. Stories are just stories. But with context, concepts come alive. According to Dictionary.com, context is “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement or idea, in terms by which it can be fully understood.” In other words, it’s not just about the message, it’s about everything happening around the message that gives it meaning. Humans understand and process information in context. For marketers, this means understanding where your audience will consume the information they receive (Mobile? Tablet? Laptop?), as well as the mindset they’re likely in when they receive it, so they’ll pay attention. For instance, do you know what their top business pains are? And how is what you’re offering a “pain killer” to these business pains? In social, content is important, but context is HUGE. If your content is not in the right context for both your specific social media platform and for the audience you want to engage, it’s a social gunshot – throwing a bunch of words in the air and hoping that, somehow, somewhere, they land on a few people in a way that makes sense and captures their attention. Providing the right context in social sharing is an art form. The words that you tweet, post or write are planting the seed for the experience.

When your audience takes your message, and relates it to their life in a new way, that’s when the experience blossoms. The Socialsphere is a place where we present our thoughts and ideas to the world, where the challenge lies in making those thoughts and ideas connect with our audience. What do I share and how do I share it? What will resonate? Will I lose likes or followers? It’s tough, right? I do believe this – the more authentic you are, the more you will get out of your share. You must also be mindful of context when you share, always. Here are four ways I try to do that before deploying any social effort.

The four rules of context:
  1. Think it through. In order to do this, whether it’s a blog or a Tweet, you need to visualize how what you share will play out, and whether it meets your objectives. Everything you share should be true to your brand – personal and company – to support your goals and have a purpose. This is where many social sharers have witnessed their demise, in Tweeting something snarky or inappropriate, either from their own handle or a corporate handle by mistake. I hear almost weekly of someone getting fired for Tweeting something inappropriate. This can be avoided by simply thinking it through (seriously.)
  1. Skip to the last page first. In other words, know the ending as well as the beginning when you plan your strategy. This is the difference between creating something complicated and complex. Complex systems work because there’s a beginning and an end point, with the trick being figuring out the best way to connect the two points. Complicated systems have one or the other. You don’t want to lead your audience down a path that just starts meandering aimlessly – they’ll likely not stick with you. You have to know what direction you’re heading in with your message. Don’t deviate. If you do, redefine the ending.
  1. Slow down. How many times have you tweeted, posted, blogged, updated – just pushed a message out there so you can check it off your list? We live in a fast-paced world where if you move too quickly, you forget to put effort into the moment that could potentially be a creative and thoughtful experience. When you give yourself time to reflect on what you’re creating, you’ll enter your audience’s world – and then you’ll deliver a message that will resonate.
  1. Get out of your head. It’s time to break out of the habit of thinking everyone knows what’s rattling around in your brain and look at what you’re sharing from an outsider’s point of view. Ask someone on your staff, a friend, a colleague, “Does this make sense to you?” before you post something. Get objective opinions. Be you, yes – be true to your thoughts and opinions – but express them in a way that people “get” you. Sometimes that means sharing your own context along with your message.
Key takeaway: It’s not just about what you share, it’s about how you share it and thinking through how people will likely receive it. Content provides a message, but context creates the experience and the connection that you’re trying to achieve. Social media is challenging that way because context varies. If you share authentically and know your audience, you will create more meaningful and social experiences that people will want to be a part of.

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