How 280 character limit can get you a job in GIS, or how I learned to simplify my GIS and so can you!

I love geographic information systems! The creativity in map design, the science of spatial analysis, and the cross-industry power are amazing.

Also, I love social media… well “love” may be too strong of a word. But social media is extremely useful, especially for GIS.

Social media and GIS go hand in hand
Social media and GIS go hand in hand.

In fact, social media and GIS are perfect matches. I was talking to a friend of mine and she said:

“GIS and Social Media are essentially the same things”. 

Think about it this way, both social media and GIS are about getting and holding peoples attention.

GIS is about data, directions, locations, people, and ideas.

Social media is about cats (also data, directions, locations, people and ideas.)

What makes social media so effective can also make your GIS effective.

Social media can make your GIS 10x more effective
Social media can make your GIS 10x more effective

Social media puts emphasis on images, character limits and flashy headlines to attract long-form reading.

Here are a quick set of “rules” for social media.

  1. People like images more than text.
  2. People like short text more than long text.
  3. People like long texts.

These are (almost) identical to rules in showing off your GIS!

Let me explain.

I have more information in my book, Permissionless GIS: Double Your GIS Interviews NOW.

Show, Don’t Tell (Images)

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Show. don't tell. It is obviously more effective.
Show. don’t tell. It is obviously more effective.

Humans are visual creatures with 50%+ of our brains dedicated to visual processing. 

If you have the choice between explaining anything in words or creating an image, always create an image. This is a great way to show off you GIS skills and get noticed.

Use $100 words and phrases (Character Limit)

There is a concept of $5 words and $100 words. $5 are boring, $100 have real power and emotion to them.

Here are set of $5 words with $100 words next to them.

$5 words versus $100 words
The proper use of images, works and detail makes social media and  your GIS more effective
The proper use of images, works and detail makes social media and your GIS more effective

Here are some typical $5 phrases version $100 phrases

I make mapsI save lives
Team PlayerPlanned GIS festival
Python programmerAutomate field operations
$5 phrases versus $100 phrases

This is where a 280 character limit forces you to use emotion and be precise.

280 characters to tell a great story.

Details Details Details

Imagery and emotional words draw people in. But what keeps them around is detail and complexity. Know these things is half the battle.

Knowing is half the battle.
Knowing is half the battle.

That is one of the strange things about the world right now. We have short attention spans where we will scroll through social media mindlessly. We laugh at cat pictures one minute, cry at a baby picture the next, and then are amazed at a bottle flipping video.

However, there is another trend that shows just how deeply people want real content. This trend is the rise of long-form podcasts, multi seasons spanning television dramas, epic book series, and intertwining movie universes.

People may, at first, come for the cat pictures (or in the case of GIS, imagery analysis), but they will stay for your insights. Your GIS skill in data analysis, connection building, and writing can shine online.

It is a dichotomy here between short attention spans and deep understanding. But this is where we as GIS people can shine. Knowing and understanding each stage of this attention-grabbing world will make you a much better GIS person.

Have fun!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out my other links!

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