In today’s culture, we are obsessed with saving the quantifiable resources of our life we’ve assigned value to – energy, money, time, and, of course, information. We’ve even started seeking to obtain more of one resource for less of another; more money for less time, and more information in less time.
We love messages that can say it all in 140 characters or less, and visual montages that only take six and a half seconds to make us laugh. Communication channels continue to manifest our deepest desires for resource preservation, telling us that you can receive more in exchange for less. Our minds follow in accord, learning to comprehend the valuable commodity of information with less time and less energy spent.
While this presents a challenge for brands who are trying to get their message heard, it also presents an opportunity. In the new media wave, people are getting better at communicating with a character limit, and therefore receiving information the same way. Today’s consumer is more capable of extracting the value from almost any short message. They do this primarily by interpreting a word as a “schema.”
In psychology, a “schema” describes an organized pattern of thought or behavior. For example, when most hear the word “wedding” the think of dresses, tuxedos, flowers, and the ambiance of a ceremony. “Wedding” is a schema for those immediate associations. With just one word, a series of generalized thoughts can be produced among a large audience because of shared experiences in culture.
Just as specific words generate the right schema, they can also be used to generate the right emotion. For example, a phrase like “sign up to become a registered member” generally translates to “commit yourself to this,” which can be scary for consumers who are unsure about the brand. Instead, the phrase “join us” translates to the idea of becoming a part of something, being welcome and included. Both messages seek the same result, but one is presented in a way that generates a more desired emotion- in this case, a sense of belonging.
In the spirit of quick communication, we have seen the development of a social media element called “hashtags.” Hashtags group together social media messages that share a common schema or emotion. The hashtag is displayed as a number sign immediately following a word or short phrase without spaces separating the words. Hashtags are inserted into social media posts as a way to help define reactions to information in the post and categorize them. When a user clicks on a hashtag, they are taken to a landing page that displays all of the posts that same hashtag was used in globally. The ever-growing use of hashtags echoes and helps fulfill our need to connect through shared experiences that can be quickly defined in just a short phrase.
Following this idea, brands who can deliver an advertising message in a few short words tend to be more successful. Impact comes not from any lengthy thorough explanation, but, instead, the perfect couple of words. They associate their product with a thought vague enough to assign personalized context to, honing in on the consumer behavior trend of personalization. Most also feature a call to action, which, when paired with the right emotion, tugs at the consumer’s heart strings and wallet.
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