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K-I-S-S: Keep It Simple…

“Michael always says, ‘K-I-S-S. Keep it simple stupid. Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time.” -Dwight Schrute

“Michael always says, ‘K-I-S-S. Keep it simple stupid. Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time.”
-Dwight Schrute

I tutored English in college. The best advice that I probably gave students was probably that the delete button is the best function on the keyboard. As someone receiving advice, you could take this one of two ways: direct criticism of your ideas or an encouragement to consider simplicity with your language.

I meant it as the latter (most of the time).

In any case, let’s take a look at three ways to keep our social media marketing efforts (or any marketing efforts) nice and simple…


I have a degree in English, and I still struggle with simplifying language in both creative and professional work. The key is reducing word count.

Without meaning to get overly complicated (solidarity), here are two bits of language that you can easily change in order to avoid excessive wordiness. (Note: These are suggestions for when your writing suffers from excessive verbiage, not grammatical rules).

To be or not to be...

To be or not to be…

1 – Avoid ‘To be’ Shakespeare, to some extent, invented modern English. For better or, more likely, for worse, Hamlet’s famous line has become one of the most quote lines from literature—“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

Of course, I can’t ignore Shakespeare’s nuance in this line. However, it’s popularity may have encouraged overuse of the verb ‘to be’ and its many forms.

So, if you can reword/reorganize a sentence to avoid using be, am, are, is, was, were, been and being—do it. For example:

I was running to the store where they were playing a game.


I ran to the store where they played a game.

2 – Avoid Prepositions, Especially ‘of’ & “from”

In order to avoid over-explaining (solidarity), here’s an example:

The man from Virginia went to the room of meeting, where he set his briefcase on the table of oak.


The Virginian man went to the meeting room, and set his briefcase on the oak table.


Despite the fact that we probably understand concepts in our own professions, this aspect of simplification can frustrate us more than language. It’s not easy to sift through the complications in our various areas of expertise to find the easy concepts for web users and customers to understand.

But think about the late 90s and early 2000s when Apple and Dell kind of duopolized computer advertising on TV. Apple’s message had little to do with the technology or programs on their machines. Rather, they focused on the lack of viruses and various frustrations in PCs to comfort viewers into purchasing their products.

Dell’s was even simpler. Focusing on the college world, desiring inexpensive devices, the mantra went: Dude, you’re getting a Dell. However, as you might notice in the commercial above, they did clutter the whole “Dude” thing with a lot of jargon and miscellaneous deals. The concept that viewers could take away: Dells are cool, young, hip, etc. However, Apple eventually managed to steal these aspects for themselves by simplifying their ads more than Dell, avoiding promotions and focusing on certain emotive aspects of their products.

Therefore, simplifying your business’s concepts does not necessarily mean sticking to specifics within your industry, product, etc. Rather, it means finding an aspect of your product that connects on an emotional level in order that customers connect with your business.

If you sell something that doesn’t seem emotive, you just have to work to find the emotion. After all… computers and robots don’t have emotions, yet we can all describe our feelings about our computers. Same goes for cars, hearing aids, wheel chairs and dental hygienists.


Cliché: A picture is worth a thousand words.

Some clichés are simply true. However, that can make developing images for marketing purposes difficult. After all, sometimes we don’t want 1000 words—we want like… 5.

Therefore, keep your marketing images simple. Find 2 to 3 colors, as little subject matter as possible and very few words. Great companies like Apple, Volkswagen and even certain insurance agencies (Geico, Progressive, State Farm, Allstate) can offer some good inspiration. They tend to keep images simple and often use limited color palates (Apple: White/Grey – Volkswagen: White/Blue – Progressive: White/Blue).

While companies have traditionally applied these ideas to TV commercials and video, they definitely apply to still images on websites and social media outlets. What companies do you admire for their marketing efforts?

What commercials/images have worked/failed in your opinion? Leave a comment and let us know!

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