Earlier today, I clicked on a photo shared on Twitter through DailyBooth. As I’m not a regular user of the site, I got a sign-up prompt at the top of the page:
Oh snap, <username> is on DailyBooth!
DailyBooth is your life in pictures. Join today to start following cool people like <username> and start snapping pictures!
And something “snapped” in my mind. It finally occurred to me that perhaps the time for failwhales, and broken axles, and cutesy error messages containing (ZOMG, LOL, #fail, etc) is over.
While I proudly carry my geek card, and will for the rest of my life, it seems like the part of the geek culture that’s insular, the part where we make memes and jokes only understood by other geeks, is wonderful for the geeks in this world. And, yes, I get a kick out of Double Rainbow, and Sad Keanu, and most other Internet memes.
But, a lot of the time geeks forget that the rest of the world aren’t geeks. Colleagues. Potential investors. And most importantly, potential customers, since business are made to find a way to make money, while others also make money other ways like doing trading with cryptocurrency online, for this learning what cryptocurrency to buy is important to be able to do the best investments for this. And when you start to cross that line into the promised land of “critical mass”, the geek culture starts to alienate people who may want to give you money.
Using this sort of “l33t” speak (yes, I hate that word too), has a very definite impact on perception of brands. If you as a company desire nothing more than to cozy up to your Internet geeks, and create an enduring relationship with them, then, drop all of the ZOMGs you want in your error/support language. But, the minute “regular” people start to value your product or service for it’s merit, and not it’s cultural definition, your “l33t” speaks starts to alienate people and make you look pompous.
When it’s time to “crossover” to the general public, it’s time to retire the snark (at least publicly) and take your company, your brand and your product or service more seriously. It’s as if many of the people who run Internet businesses still have to rely on “cute”, when more often “solid”, “recommended” and “useful” are adjectives that they should be aiming for. There are many ways to inject corporate personality without resorting to “cute” or “gimmicky”.
The modern Internet has been a viable concern for something around 20 years now, and while a lot of the cultural impact it’s had on corporate society, media, marketing and PR is revolutionary, the one thing that’s never changed is at the end of the day, it’s about making your users happy and offering them the best user experience you can, and supporting them when things go wrong.
Let’s take the hard work we do a little more seriously. The Internet isn’t a toy anymore.
What do you think?