Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “If you can't explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”
I think he's right.
Think about it: have you ever been in a social setting where a person throws out big words, concepts, or ideas to sound intelligent? When you press him on a certain topic, or ask for clarification, his response is to usually up the jargon and rhetoric.
His goal in this situation is to increase complexity to confuse you. The complexity is nothing more than a defense mechanism. He wants you to believe he deeply understands what he's talking about, but in actuality, he does not.
If he understood what he was talking about, truly, he would be able to explain it to a fifth-grader.
The more complex-sounding his language, the less those around him understand, the smarter he looks. The goal for this person is not to explain and educate, but to complicate and obfuscate the truth.
This happens all the time.
Take social media metrics for example. The more we work with clients, the more I gravitate to this topic.
Many agencies and firms want their clients to believe there is a complex algorithm for determining the effectiveness of social media content. They want their clients to believe words like “engagement,” “reach,” and “amplification” matter. (They don't.)
These agencies and firms complicate their language to confuse their clients. Virtually every service-based industry fights this temptation, but I feel it acutely since we serve our clients with content.
When we manage digital content for clients (web, email, and social), we have a very simple process to show the value of what we're doing.
We make it easy for clients to see how they are progressing:
- KNOW. How are we raising awareness for the business, brand, or belief?
- LIKE. How are we increasing loyalty to the brand or organization?
- TRUST. How are we influencing conversion opportunities?
- BUILD. How are we building advocates for the brand?
Social media metrics must draw lines between digital content and organizational objectives. It's that simple. When a social media agency tells their clients it's about something other than organizational results, they don't understand social well enough. They cannot explain it simply.