I’ve been thinking about connotation a lot. That’s evidenced by the post about “hustling” and other words we can use instead of hustle to show that we’re working hard.
(The long and short of that post is that “hustle” has a connotation that you’re tricking people and conning them out of their money, which is not at all how I want to be perceived or feel about doing business.)
It seems like this is a perfect follow up, at least in my mind.
I’ve seen a lot of posts on Pinterest lately that boast 40 Tricks for Increasing your Social Presence or Do These 5 Tricks and Your SEO is Gonna Explode!!!!!
I’m all for sharing actionable advice. That’s what a lot of what I have done on this blog. And pretty much what my entire email list is based on. Free advice from an expert to someone who needs it.
Not only is that a smart strategy to grow your business (it builds trust and yada yada) but it’s just plain nice. You have all of this information in your head. Why hoard it!? Why not give it away freely? It may help someone who really needs it to support themselves and their business and so on.
But to say that you’re sharing these so-called tricks? Now that is where I have an issue.
Trick makes me think of hustle; like it’s a con you’re running.
Say you wrote that blog post, “40 Tricks for Increasing your Social Presence.” Girl. You need a better headline.
That just screams that you’ve a) click-baited your audience into reading that post and b) encouraged them to do the same thing to their audience. It’s like you’re just showing people how to run a con. Your audience is using that advice and tricking their audience into doing what they want them to do (sign up for a mailing list, read a blog post, etc).
So, the tl;dr of that boils down to: you’re teaching your audience how to use deception to get what they want from their audience.
Instead, don’t you want to show your audience real value? Teach a man to fish and such.
When you look at the dictionary definition (also known as the denotation of a word or the literal meaning of a word), the first part of the main definition tells us that trick is “a cunning or skillful act or scheme intended to deceive or outwit someone.” It isn’t until the fifth part of the main definition that we get to “a clever or particular way of doing something.”
Even the dictionary first agrees that the most important definition of this word shows that the intent is to be deceptive.
Now, I know these articles mean to use that fifth part of the definition (at least, I really hope so). So why not say what you mean! Instead of “40 Tricks for Increasing your Social Presence,” a much stronger headline is “40 Tips what will Increase your Social Presence.” Or “40 Unique Ways to Increase your Social Presence.” Or “40 Simple Secrets No One Else Knows for Increasing your Social Presence.”
Okay, that last one is a little long, but you get my point. Trick is an easy word to use, but it isn’t the best word. For that matter, it isn’t a strong word either. I’d rather get my advice from someone who’s post is titled 40 Expert-Tested Ways to Increase your Social Presence.
What I find particularly amusing is that the adjective version of this word means “defective,” as in “a trick knee.”
That gives new meaning to “40 Tricks for Increasing your Social Presence.” I wouldn’t want to read a blog post that’s telling me 40 ways to screw up my social presence. Unless it’s written by Thomas Edison and it’s all about how you’re not failing, you’re just finding 40 ways to do something wrong. But even then….ehhhh, no thanks.