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 the difference of opinions. I am talking about the fact that your conversational partner could not 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 experiential 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 the interaction.

My dad often says 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…

Shared Reference Pillars

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 many 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 leverage.
  • Communication – Experiments are what drives progress. Successful digital ones, however, are the ones that make a 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 reference to a well-known 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 intuitive navigation, you make sure they will most likely leave and never come back.
  • Language – translating your English content word by word in another language is a job half done. “Nazdorovye” is not how the Ruskies’ Cheer when having a drink. Think about that!

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

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

Copyright © 2010 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.