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Boom: Image of an explosion


An appeal for modesty in the age of ’BOOM’

23 feb , 2018, 09.23 Peter Seenan


I worked in marketing for three years at a successful high-growth company in Finland. Every day I was on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter scheduling content and engaging with followers of our company. I’d follow many famous international brands to benchmark the content they were creating and monitor how they announced things to their customers, every day for over three years.

Getting your voice heard is a constant struggle, as any marketer will tell you. Everyone wants to be an ’influencer’ or ’thought leader’. This is the parlance of life on social media. You’re looking to catch people’s attention for long enough that they pause and stop scrolling.

Everyone was at it and they still are: over-the-top announcements, empty promises, clickbait. Rarely simply, “we’ve done this and you’ll benefit this way”, but always preceded by “BOOM!!!”.

The word “BOOM” shows its fake-it-till-you-make-it face everywhere. Sometimes to shake things up ”BOOM!!!” might be substituted with “AMAZING!!!” followed by something inane, like “we’ve just added a new more rounded button to our user interface”. It’s a bit like announcing to your friends, “BOOM! I just donated 5 euros to charity”. No one cares, millions of other people do the same every day.

But what if people were a little more modest? Is ”BOOM” really helping anyone? Are explosion emojis, fire emojis, rocket emojis really necessary when all you’ve done is become one of the “hundred hottest startups in Hyvinkää”? As marketers we’re all guilty.

I’m appealing for a little more modesty – or honesty today. I think it’ll go a long way. Instead of ”BOOM” and ”AMAZING” and ”STUNNING” (a particular hate of mine) and ”AWESOME”, how about we crank up the modesty levels and be a little more honest. In other words, let’s be more Finnish.

Finns notoriously undervalue what they have under their feet and surrounding them. They’d much rather pick apart news from Time magazine that it’s the best place to live in the world, they grumble when they hear they’re the 5th happiest nation on the planet, they ask “why are you here?” as if it’s a complete shock that anyone would like to live in their country. It’s so refreshing.

Instead of “BOOM” about we roll things back and call things what they are. What about starting announcements with a gentle and understated “Pling”, or how about a shy little “Beep” followed by some earth-shattering announcement about a new website contact form or mind-blowing support article?

Or what about “Peep peep”?

Or we could take our cue from nature. “Cheep” is a sound you don’t hear much outside the bird kingdom and that needs to change. Or moving away from onomatopoeia, how about “QUITE GOOD!” or “MODERATE!” or “MIDDLING TO POOR!” You get the idea.

It would be such a welcome relief from all the LOOK AT MEEEEE seriousness in the business world, in content creation, in startups. It would mean a bit more honesty. You wouldn’t have to spend time dressing mutton up as lamb.

“PLIM! This is a tad average because no one thought to proofread it.”

The competition for attention is fierce, even in workchat like Slack where quantity and volume seems to be prized above quality. In the age of BOOM!!! I always think of an adage from my primary school years and that’s “Empty vessels make the most noise.” That’s always what I think when I read or hear the word BOOM.

In my head I also imagine what it would have sounded like if the author had been less dramatic. Try it next time.

“TINKLE!!! You’ll never believe what happened to our startup today!!!”

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En kommentar

  1. Chris skriver:

    Really interesting read and completely agree. PURP would be my choice for the future!

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