I think we need to be careful when using abbreviations in corporate comms and across social media. Obviously they have their uses and help us keep things concise. But they can risk alienating people who maybe don’t live and breathe a particular subject matter as much as we do.

They are also not that great for SEO. While we’re at it, SEO itself is not particularly great for SEO. Surely there’s a section of the audience that doesn’t even know what ‘SEO’ is, they’re just looking for ‘help with search engines’. So Search Engine Optimisation professionals should really spell out what it is they do.

And so should the rest of us.

The other issue I have with abbreviations is that is can shield us from the full scale and detail of whatever we’re talking about. Female Genital Mutilation. Human Pappilomavirus. Here, I’d suggest the abbreviations rather soften what it is that’s going on. That’s fine if you’re speaking to other people like you. People who are already on board. Fellow professionals who deal with these issues every day. But if you’re trying to reach out to new people, to grow support for your campaign, to win hearts and minds, then I think, you should always consider spelling it out.

I see some activists right now talking about ‘GBV’ (Gender Based Violence). Spelling it out confronts people. It highlights exactly what’s going on and how wrong it is to have a society where people face violence because of their gender. So for me, those two words ‘gender’ and ‘violence’ are absolutely key and I would take every opportunity to spell those words out. I would never want ‘GBV’ to become the substitute, regardless of how simple and catchy it sounds.

Lots of organisations go to great lengths trying to explain what it is they do, while at the same time abbreviating a perfectly good name that sums it all up very neatly.

Words matter. Think carefully before hiding them.