The real problem with brands saying “bae” and “on fleek” isn’t the slang. It’s the targeting.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about brands using youth culture slang, like “bae” — spelled B-A-E — and “on fleek” — which means on point, as in these Jay Today videos are on fleek — and other jargon like that. There’s even an awesome Twitter account @BrandsSayingBae that chronicles corporations trying to get jiggy wit it on Twitter.
There was an interesting article on Digiday about this the other day, and Shankar Gupta from 360i said that when brands use terms like “bae” and “on fleek,” it’s a desperate attempt to connect with their audience and shows that they are failing to connect with their audience.
“When you see a brand aging down its social channels by tossing in ‘bae’ and ‘on fleek,’ it’s a warning sign in most cases that the brand is struggling to connect in a meaningful way with its audience,” — Shankar Gupta, 360i
I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think that is a misplaced comment and misses the bigger point. I personally don’t have a problem with brands using youth culture slang, especially if those brands are targeted to those demographics. The real issue I have is brands using that kind of language on Twitter.
Twitter is the bluntest object in the social toolbox
Here’s what we don’t think about in terms of Twitter very often:
Twitter is such an incredibly blunt object. On Facebook now, with interest targeting, you could say something using the word “bae” in it and target it as an interest to “whatever them kids like these days” or some other type of interest targeting, and that would automatically send that message only to people who might actually know what “bae” is or be able to use the word “bae” in a sentence appropriately.
It’s the same thing on Google+. Instagram doesn’t necessarily have targeting, but because it still skews fundamentally young, it sort of targets itself, and certainly the same thing is true of Snapchat.
But Twitter demographically reaches a broad cross-section of the population, and still has no capabilities to do targeting by age, by demographics, by gender, by interests…unless you buy an advertisement.
In its organic posting capabilities, Twitter is essentially the same thing as saying, “I want to run a magazine ad, but you have to run that ad in all magazines, including Undertaker Today and Field and Stream,” or, “I want to run a television commercial, but it has to run on all television shows, including ‘The Walking Dead’ and C-SPAN.”
Twitter does not allow brands to target what they’re saying in any way, shape, or form, so to me, if your brand wants to try and play cool and say “bae”, do it on Facebook, where you can actually use interest targeting to send that kind of messaging to the appropriate people.
Brand ARE desperate…for better targeting
The issue is not brands getting desperate. The issue is brands using Twitter this way because it doesn’t yet allow you to target effectively. It’s one of the big flaws of Twitter right now, and we simply don’t talk about it enough.
Sprout Social Shoutout
Today’s Sprout Social Shoutout is for is for my company, Convince & Convert. After a six year gestation period, we actually launched our very first Twitter account for Convince & Convert. The handle is @Convince.
I’ve had that handle for so long, literally six years, that many people thought we had to buy it, when actually I squatted on it a long, long, long time ago. So @Convince is where we’re going to share all kinds of stuff on Twitter that we’re doing that we think is interesting. So I would love a follow from you @Convince on Twitter if you get a chance.
About Jay Today
This video is from Jay Today is my near-daily 3-minute video where I talk about social media, content marketing, business and life. JayToday is available on Youtube, iTunes (as a video podcast, and now as an audio podcast too), and at JayToday.tv. The show is sponsored by Sprout Social (which I use for my social media), and Candidio (a great video editing service).
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