One of the tweets I saw last evening riled me so much…enough to tweet this,

I *H-A-T-E* someone using ‘dis’, for ‘this’, even when there are a LOT of characters left. Not taking names; in a charitable mood.

The truth is, it was from a brand! And, here’s my gripe.

Brands like that speak in the best of their English, in all other forms of communication. Whether it is press releases crafted by the brand’s PR team…or senior management speaking to media. So, why should social media be any different?

Oh I hear you…you’re saying…no…just say it. Target segment? Demographic?

Hmmm, sorry, that doesn’t quite cut it.

The internet…or Twitter, in specific, is not full of people (I shudder to add…youth?) who use words like ‘dis’ and ‘wid’ (in place of ‘this’ and ‘with’), nor does that make a brand seem cool, even if it is catering to an age group that is purportedly using such words. They do exist, but it really isn’t important that brands start to talk like them to attract them.

If all other pieces of communication from such brands are consistent in terms of appropriately decent use of language, why should Twitter be any different? Does the CEO of such an organization know that such horrendous lingo is being used on the brand’s behalf, on Twitter?

Not convinced? Ok, let me say it – it is Cafe Coffee Day. I’m revealing the name only for the sake of demonstrating a point further – I do understand that Cafe Coffee Day may have a perfectly valid reason for this lingo usage that I may be completely oblivious of.

And the offending tweet was,

Hey folks! How many of you have experienced dis? 😉 http://giza.im/ix= (Link)

My next question is this: Do waiters at Cafe Coffee Day use such language with their guests/visitors who may fall in the youth segment…or any segment, for that matter?

They still speak intelligent, decent English, I suppose. So, let me ask again – why should Twitter be any different?

This is not an isolated incident, if you think it is, since I’m referring to one single tweet. Back in August, Cafe Coffee Day referred to a tweeter (Narayanan H – who had tweeted them something…negative, at that) as ‘Dude’.

@CafeCoffeeDay: @narayananh sure dude, will let you know as soon as we get action items from our team @pprakash #CCDSucks

Without getting into what that issue was, since it’s not relevant to this post, a prominent Chennai-based Tweeter (Vijay Anand) tweeted to Narayanan,

@narayananh Did @cafecoffeeday just respond to you on twitter, referring to you as “Dude“? 🙂 Wow. Who is teaching them customer service?

I had joined the discussion at that time by questioning if Cafe Coffee Day had acquired ‘dude license’ yet, with that tweeter.

beastoftraalâ??: Perhaps, @CafeCoffeeDay needs to earn dudelicense before using it with a tweeter and that takes more than 2 tweets, depending on context

Nobody else could explain that better than Seinfeld – he uses a post-date-call as the base to explain how relationships progress between people…in this case, between himself and baseball player, Keith Hernandez, after a chance encounter in the gym locker room. If you’re still interested in this line of thought, read the second act of this episode titled, ‘Boyfriend – Part 1‘ (It happens at Monks).

But I digress and having fun with the digression too!

Getting back to the point, I wonder what makes a brand resort to such language usage! It could be because of this – Interns shall inherit the earth – as explained beautifully by Jeremy Woolf. Or, it could be because this engagement is handed out to a bunch of just-out-of college kids who have, quite entrepreneurially, floated a ‘social media agency’. I applaud the entrepreneurism, but…please get your language right.

But again, if you think all this is trivial and the language really doesn’t matter on Twitter, I’d love to read your counter view, debate and learn from it.

Krish Ashok, on Twitter, offered one as soon as I ranted about the ‘dis’. Even if it sounded like it was done in jest, he did have a point when he asked me,

@krishashok @beastoftraal I wonder if someone said the same thing about folks who spelled musick as “music” in the 1600s

He went on, in Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue-style, to offer an example too, using The Chancery Standard.

At a broader level, going beyond language, the question is, should a brand become one of its users/customers to gain acceptance from them? Is it like asking a man to be a woman, to understand his wife’s feelings better? Or, as my son (he’s 7) says, ‘Dad, you don’t need to talk like me to get close to me – just be yourself…I like you that way’ 🙂 I suppose that says a lot – we all have our unique identities and as a large brand, Cafe Coffee Day definitely has one. How it manifests in various customer touch points is the point to ponder. In Cafe Coffee Day outlets, which is one of the most important touch points, customers are referred to as ‘Sir’ – not by first name or with a ‘Dude’. Should it be any different on Twitter because they assume that, out here, they have become one of their customers?

Picture courtesy: Jonsson, via Flickr.

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