Shared reference is that thing that makes a dialogue. It is that flow in the conversation that makes people understand each other and not lose interest. It also shows that the force is with you and you are that close to achieving the point of your initial conversational involvement.

Everyone has been in a situation where he found himself/herself misunderstood. And I am not talking about difference of opinions. I am talking about the fact that your conversational partner was not able to relate to your words, understand them and reply accordingly in a logical sense.

Unfortunately, shared reference is not that easily established. People do have different cultural and experience backgrounds. They’ve read different books, watched different movies, found different interests through their lifetime and most importantly have a different tic-tac mechanism in their drive. There are so many things that might not make the connection between you and the one that stands in front. However, the human being is a social mammal that cannot (in most cases) stay away from interaction.

My dad says often that the world has turned into one big village. The internet and transportation infrastructure has made it possible for people to socialize with minimum effort and investment. On the other hand, the internet in particular makes it even easier to be misunderstood…

So, one has to wonder how to decrease the number of moments that his/her words were taken wrongly. Especially for us, digital marketers! So here, I go with few points:

  • Content – Keep it simple! No matter how trivial this might sound, there is much more to be desired from a large number of websites, advertising campaigns and messages spread through the different social media channels. Your customer does not have the time to read an extensive and vague marketing bull. He/she does not care at all about your mission statement either (Show this to your board members!). Your customer cares only about one thing – “How your product will help his/her life get easier or nicer?” and “Please give me the lift version!”.
  • Appearance – Your understanding might not be the same as your user’s. So next time when you want to go creative on your site navigation buttons and introduce dubious pictogram, think twice!  So do have a business guy sitting next to your designer just for a leverage.
  • Communication – Experiments are what drives progress. Successful digital ones, however, are the ones that make pretty damn good connection between the creative idea and common sense. There is no chance for your message to stick, unless you don’t create some sort of reference to a well know matter amongst your target audience.
  • Browsing Experience – Visitors to your site fly in to complete a particular task they have in mind. By offering the opposite of an intuitive navigation, you are making sure they will most likely leave and never come back.
  • Language – translating you English content word by word in another language is a job halfway done. “Nazdorovye” is not how the Ruskis’ Cheer when having a drink. Think about that!

In conclusion, keep your mind open and consider different point of views, but most importantly, tailor-make your expose as per a careful analysis of your audience!

I would love to read you opinions on shared reference and anything we can add to or strike out of the bullet points above.

Copyright © 2010 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.