At last – March has arrived. This fickle month has the reputation of cavorting “in like a lion and out like a lamb.” Mother Nature should know by now we’ve all had enough of the lion part of this cliche, especially on the East Coast. And who knows for sure the origin of this vivid idiom?
Some say it relates to the position of certain constellations (Leo the Lion and Ares the Ram) in the sky at month’s beginning and end. Some say English playwright John Fletcher penned the phrase in his 1624 play A Wife for a Month. And some say the source is the Ames Almanack or a farmer’s proverb from America’s colonial era.
I say it’s time for the online community to cleanse its collective palate. Let’s revitalize the overabundance of famous cliches and trite expressions by translating some of them into social-media speak. I’ll do my best to cough up the so-called source of each nugget of wisdom. I’ll even support each digital dewdrop with a custom infographic and fully researched SlideShare presentation. Okay, maybe those last two steps aren’t necessary. Are you up for the “social-media-cliche-doppelganger” challenge?
Build a Better Visual and the “Webiverse” Will Backlink a Path to Your Site: The various online platforms continue to fill up your virtual gas tank with more sophisticated visuals. There’s no end to it: infographics, SlideShare presentations, six-second Vine videos on Twitter, and dedicated video channels on YouTube. But if you build a better mousetrap, will the entire online world actually beat a path to your door? Maybe yes, maybe no…
I acknowledge that visual displays of information and videos are here to stay. I suppose it’s best to strive for improvement whenver possible to attract (and engage – that’s the tricky part!) more visitors to your website, blog, landing page, etc. But I’m enamored with words and writing, so I’ll just continue on my content-strewn path (until they pry my Merriam-Webster’s from my cold, dead hands).
Busier Than a One-Fingered Tweeter (or Texter): Actually, if you push out most of your posts or tweets via a mobile device with a virtual keyboard, perhaps this new version of being “busier than a one-armed paperhanger” rings true. I know it does for me!
Allegedly this cliche is used quite a bit in the great state of Mississippi to denote a very busy person. It may also have something to do with the difficulty of trying to hang wallpaper with less than two hands. If you’re truly overworked, consider pre-scheduling your tweets and posts with available online tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, SocialOomph, or one of the options from the Twitter smorgasbord.
You Can’t Fit a Square Facebook Post in a Round Twitter Tweet: This one offers sound advice all social media enthusiasts know to be true – what you push out with one platform doesn’t necessarily translate well to another social-networking hub. This is why it’s a good idea to customize promotion of your blog or landing page or free e-newsletter (or photos of cute kittens) across the various platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and so on).
The origin of “a square peg in a round hole” is attributed to British clergyman Sydney Smith (circa the early 1800s). And then British novelist (and cliche aficionado) Edward Bulwer-Lytton used it as a metaphor in a late 19th-century book (his last!) I guarantee you’ll never read: Kenelm Chillingly, His Adventures and Opinions. I say keep the flame of your individualism alive (whether square or round) when you post and promote online!
You CAN Judge a Blog by Its Photo: We all know that judging books (or people) by their covers (or outward appearance) can be a lethal mistake on the back end. But I believe use of images/photos in a blog can definitely tell you something about the blogger’s personality, sense of humor, and willingness to “go the blogging distance.”
I know I’m a bit biased. My track record regarding blog-post photos is weirdly whimsical but steady. Scamming a somewhat-generic image or photo from the Internet isn’t the same as staging or finding the perfect image to accompany a blog post. The more intriguing the photo, the more likely both your loyal readership and perfect strangers will click on your link and stay a while.
Of course, a snazzy headline doesn’t hurt either. And don’t get me started regarding blog posts without images. This is the equivalent of attempting to sell a “naked” book that has lost its dust jacket (whether in a physical bookstore or online).
That’s enough social-media wisdom for one blog entry. To be continued…
Did you enjoy reading this type of post? Of the translated idioms I sprang on you here, which ones do you think might catch fire or cause a social-media commotion? What other cliches would you like me to tackle in a future blog post? Here’s the handy list I initially found when I did a search for “trite expressions and cliches.” Please don’t force me to look for that proverbial needle in a haystack – a smidgen of feedback would be lovely!
Lori Shapiro is the owner of By All Writes LLC, a business-to-business (B2B) writing, editing, and research company in Marlton, New Jersey. She revels in shielding her clients from the pain of writing their own print and web marketing copy. Please call Lori Shapiro at 856-810-9764 or email By All Writes LLC at email@example.com for a no-obligation project quote today!
Lori, these are fantastic! Great job freshening up some old cliches.
Thanks so much for stopping by the Moonlight Blog; I’m flattered by your compliment. Based on the feedback this post has garnered in the past few days, I definitely plan to craft a sequel later in the year.
Enjoy your weekend – no snow on the horizon (yippee)!