You have a business website. You have an e-newsletter that you regularly send to your clients (maybe through MailChimp or Aweber). You may have a blog that you update chaotically, when you remember. You’re thinking about starting a Facebook page and, well, why stop there, may as well set up LinkedIn and Twitter accounts too – everyone’s doing it!
There’s no arguing that communicating online is the fastest way of getting your message to your clients. But are you communicating effectively?
Here are some simple writing tips for communication effectively online:
Writing Tip #1: Use bold text, subheadings and bullet points
Write manageable chunks of text and bold the important parts.
Readers of the web scan text, they don’t read word-for-word, so highlighting the most important part of your text will help readers find out what you want them to know, faster.
Using meaningful subheadings and bulleted lists will also allow your readers to skim through the page faster.
Writing Tip #2: Keep it short and simple
Unless you’re writing about a specialist topic, stay clear of jargon or acronyms that your readers may not recognise. Keep your text short and simple, especially in the online world. Use less words and more white space than you would for other writing genres.
Writing Tip #3: Use a strong subject line when emailing
This will help grab the attention of your reader. Email subject lines are better if they are to the point and use active language. Keep them short as well!
Writing Tip #4: Be active
Make sure your writing uses active and not passive voice. That is, “we are developing plans” instead of “plans are being developed”.
The use of active voice allows for clearer writing and avoids a bureaucratic tone.
Writing Tip #5: Socialise
If you are thinking about using, or are currently using, social media as a communication channel, then you need to socialise – a lot. Add friends, like their comments, leave a comment, tweet, connect, pin it or even Instagram it. To get noticed you need to actively socialise.
Writing Tip #6: Check the detail, twice
As is with all written communications, you need to check the detail – in this case, check it twice. Errors in punctuation, grammar and spelling will be noticed. If you claim that you are thorough and have an attention for detail, well, make sure of it with your own writing!
Writing Tip #7: Set the tone
Writing for the web is a different genre – ensure your tone is conversational and light. Know your readers (or your target market) and try to answer their questions. Think about how you can help them solve their problems and go from there. Don’t write to “dumb it down”, but write to be informal and professional at the same time.
Writing Tip #8: Make the information easily accessible
If visitors to your website don’t find what they’re looking for quickly, then they will go elsewhere. Simple. If you can, ensure your website has a responsive design so that it can be viewed on any device; be it desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.
Writing Tip #9: Paint a picture
Effectively written material is all well and good; however we all absorb information differently. Ensure that your material is coupled with appropriate images. Use stock photography, infographics or have images designed by professionals. Whichever you choose, make sure that they support your key messages.
Writing Tip #10: Finally, make it meaningful
Don’t write for writing’s sake. Make the information you have meaningful for your audience. Yours and your readers’ time is precious. Make the most of it.
Best of luck with your writing endeavours!