What Is Your Story?

I have been thinking about Cathryn Sloane and her post about Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25. If you are wondering why I am writing about this almost a month later the reason is that I didn’t want to be lost in the noise that surrounded her initial salvo.

Mind you there are more than a few good posts that are worth reading about the topic and her letter.

Her article was foolish, short sighted and misguided- but I might have said or written the same thing at her age.

In fact I cannot confirm or deny telling a supervisor that they were not allowed to use words they couldn’t spell or define when speaking with me. I might have even have made them so angry they lost the ability to speak and had to leave the room.

Fortunately my tale of what might or might not have happened wasn’t recorded or done in front of millions of people. There is a reason I tell my kids not to upload any movies they make now because what is funny when you are almost 12 might not stay that way for long.

My grandfather always said you can’t screw an old head on young shoulder and he was right.

What She Got Right

She wasn’t completely off base on everything. Cathryn nailed one crucial area and it is worth sharing with you.

“The specificity of the ways in which the method should be used is usually beyond them, however. The typically tired commercial statements or aggressively slang-imitating phrases companies tend to use on their sites do not match the witty, honest, energetic atmosphere these social media outlets offer.”

In simple English it means that brands/companies are doing a poor job with their messaging. We are inundated with content that makes my head hurt. It is not because it is filled with spelling and grammatical errors but because there is abundance of jargon and gibberish that creates chaos and confusion.

Occasionally I’ll read an ad and wonder if it would be less painful to shove a butter knife in my ear than to try and understand what I just read.

Lewis Black

It reminds me of a bit that the comedian Lewis Black performs about things that are dangerous to think about. That is the one that starts out with the line,  “if it wasn’t for my horse, I wouldn’t have spent that year in college.

The reason it is funny is because it is based in truth.  It doesn’t have to be like that. There is an easy and simple solution.

The Power of Simplicity

When it comes to business the power of simplicity works something like this:

  1. Identify Problem.
  2. Provide Solution.
  3. Show How You Provide Solution.
  4. Ask for Order.

If you want to boil it down further all we are doing is listening to people tell us about a problem they have and then responding with a short story about how we have the solution to their problem.

Gee Mrs. Hackleshmackle I understand you are late to work because you have to walk to your office. I have a car that is safe, reliable, economical and affordable. Sign here and press firmly, the third copy is yours.”

It is really that simple. Listen, tell your story, answer questions and ask for their business.

The next time you and your team sit down to talk about strategy and to work out what sort of content you need try starting the process by asking and answering What is Your Story?

Use the Power of Simplicity to help drive your business. It works because it is simple and can’t we all use a bit more of that.

What do you think?

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  1. Adrienne August 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Hey Josh,

    I read something about her post over on Hajra’s blog yesterday but didn’t read the actual post myself. I had just responded to what she claimed and also had to disagree on that for a few reasons myself.

    I agree though with what you shared here, just keep it simple. I don’t read a lot of advertisements any longer mainly because a lot of that makes my head spin as well. Just tell me what you have to offer me and be done with it, my time is precious.

    At least her post made great followup posts everywhere right! That’s what it’s all about.


    • Josh August 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm


      If Cathryn visited your blog it would be pretty evident that you know something about social media.

      I think you are absolutely right about focusing on time. That is something that you can’t get back. It makes people angry when it is wasted.

  2. Life, for instance August 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

    Yikes! She sure hit on a tender spot – 619 comments – not counting the replies to those comments. Perhaps she does know SOMETHING about social median LOL
    I love how you admit “I might have said or written the same thing at her age.”
    I do believe in the power of the story and this is what social media gives you such a perfect opportunity to tell. Have you read Tell to Win by Peter Guber? Very good read!

    • Josh August 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Hi Lori,

      Not only did she generate a ton of comments she helped provide quite a bit of blog fodder.

      I haven’t ever been afraid to speak my mind and when I was younger I was certainly willing to help “educate” those around me. She just had the misfortune of doing so publicly.

      Peter Guber sounds familiar, but I am not sure if I have read his book. I will have to look it up on Amazon.

  3. Geoff Livingston August 13, 2012 at 4:25 am

    High, Josh! Thanks for the link. It was certainly an interesting thought provoking moment. My conclusions were the same as yours initially, and I turned off the incident. If I had $5 for every time I said something off par during my youth, I wouldn’t be working today! But in the end the amount of vitriol from the 25+ crowd caused me to way in.

    Your overall conclusion about simplicity is right. There were a few rights in her post that you can see. Just goes to show you, nothing is ever black and white.



    • Josh August 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Hi Geoff,

      My initial reaction to the post probably wasn’t that different from a lot of us “older folks.” It irritated me and had I gone with my gut reaction I might have left a nasty comment like many of the others.

      When I took a moment to consider it was clear to me that it would be hypocritical for me to act like I have never put my size 12 boot in my mouth. Happened lots of times and even with the wisdom of age I am sure I’ll find a way to do it again.

      Sometimes the ability to provide instant reactions is not a good thing and I think this is evidence of that.

      Hopefully we all learned from it.

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