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Susan R. Hatten Headshot

Connecting To Humanity

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Grandmother's everywhere unite in the golden rule of; "If you can't say something nice, simply don't say it at all." Today, most millenials would agree that if you can't say something relevant in 140 characters or less, it's not worthy of sharing.

Given the recent celebration of Twitter's 7th anniversary (originally coined as Twttr), I began to think more globally about just how we communicate, and what makes certain statements are relevant or not, to each of us, using varying media methods. I certainly recognize that there are times when 140 characters just won't do the job (this blog post, for instance), but for most social media situations, it certainly allows you enough of a runway.

Arianna Huffington recently posted a blog column regarding the Twittersphere and how it relates to her world of publishing and media. She and I have a similar belief in that communication is an inherent and precious tool that humans thrive off of and depend on. We manage our daily lives based on communication, and when there is a break between threads or consistent feedback, our worlds tend to go awry.

The communication landscape is changing daily, and as my current professional role is entrenched in the print and publishing arena, I consistently see this shift impact us as an organization. Technology has made it so that we are now offered fleeting statements, headlines, breaking news and personal theory, in a short collection of words - and in real-time. Texting in brevity is now the preferred mode of communication for millenials, as opposed to a phone call. And officemates are IM'ing requests and questions, instead of taking the stairwell down one flight to ask their colleagues in-person.

While technology does make it easier for us to immediately transfer our thoughts to the masses, interestingly enough, Mashable reports that 1 in 4 young adults regret their social media posts. Just another reminder of why you should consider your posts before they go live.

I recently came upon the term; "Digital Native", which I quite enjoyed. Digital Natives are consumers who grew up with mobile technology as part of their everyday lives. According to the article; Digital Natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TV, magazines, tablets, smartphones, or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, about every-other minute.

Knowing this is exactly why the Twittersphere is a supremely relevant space for marketers everywhere, and especially for Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post Media Company.

If you review various forms of communication from the beginning of time, you must believe that short and direct communication was likely preferred. From the etchings on prehistoric cave walls more than 40,000 years ago, to Haiku, to the Pony Express and Post-It Notes, folks were given parameters for which they must follow to insert all of their needed communication within the boundaries given. How large was the stone tablet, how much can you fit on a Post-It note, how long will a voice messaging system allow you to talk before cutting you off, etc. (As an aside, I think that we all remember the classic Sex & The City episode where Carrie is devastated by a breakup that takes place via Post-It note. Lowest of low.)

Twitter just took this message capture a step further and actually capped your thoughts at 140 characters for you. This kind of communication boundary forces you to review your message and thoughts, so you are sure to convey precisely what is meant to be the most passionate and relevant tone in your Tweet.

Arianna mentions Adam Bain, Twitter's President of Global Revenue, in her piece. Adam is known for once stating, "Twitter is meant for humor, humanity, and huge deals." Touché. When I reviewed my (minimal) 279 Tweets, it was easy for me to see that all of my output falls within these three categories. Right on, Mr. Bain.

While I had already begun drafting this post, I was again reminded of communication relevance over an evening of playing the riveting game of Cards Against Humanity. I can't think of any of the combined card sequences that would have totaled more than 140 characters. They were all short, to the point...and freaking hilarious.

The game just wouldn't work if you were reading paragraphs of framed mad-lib style phrases. People would get bored, start yawning, and leave your party. I've nearly stopped following friends on Facebook, who consistently leave essay posts in their feed. If you have to write that much, there's a good chance that is extremely TMI...or that you've just embarrassed yourself.

One of the most impactful notes in Arianna's blog was with regard to a newly implemented "Third Metric" that has been adopted within the HuffPost infrastructure. This Third Metric is quoted as; "...redefining success as something beyond money and power to include well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder and give back."

I love this idea. This is the humanity portion of Mr. Bain's theory on how Twitter is relevant, and HuffPost is now making a concerted effort to bring this forward. The idea of bringing the world together through communication channels is fascinating; and, if more people embraced the "Third Metric" concept, perhaps our world would be a better place.

As the layers of technology continue to multiply and barriers between continents, countries and counties diminish, it is apparent that our choices in both method and mode of communication have the ability to provide impactful change. The ease in sharing of information and trends that result in this type of social networking are powerful marketing tools.

Twitter is fueling this change and providing a connection to - and for humanity; tweet by tweet. So, share away. But please keep it relevant, rousing...and within the constraints of 140 characters or less.