Social, social, social. Lets get social (don't click if you value your sanity). We're constantly barraged with the importance of social media - whether you're a writer, a small business owner or, well...a regular punter. Social media can be a pain. It can drive us insane - what with the opinionated tweets, banal Facebook posts, and narcissistic Instagram pages.
But in all honesty - social media has redefined how we write and communicate - for better or worse. If you're a wannabe Shakespeare, that might be a bad thing. But for the rest of us, it's great.
Now, our communications are more:
1. Clear and concise
3. Personalised and relevant
The thing is, 140 characters forces you to say what you want to say quickly, clearly and - in many cases - creatively. Not only is it training us to write accordingly, it's also training us to expect that level of communication from each other.
That means...lengthy, complex content, long-form posts and dry, impersonal 'business talk' is becoming more and more out of fashion. Consequently, we need to completely redefine our approach to online writing.
Applying The Tip
Write For An ADHD 8th-Grader
Yep. Social media has reduced our attention spans. Now, we spend less time on words, and more on more visually engaging stimuli (Netflix and chill....anyone?). That's why we need to write in a concise, simple, legible manner. Here's how:
1. Break content into short paragraphs interspersed with bullet-points, images, bolded/italic key phrases
2. Always use simple word variations (or...word choices!) - full list here
4. Cut unnecessary words, phrases, and keep everything simple - use the Hemingway Editor to get your writing to 8th grader level
Don't Just Talk - Create a Conversation
Social media is all about the conversation. It's allowing customers to directly interface and influence companies on a personal level for the very first time - and it's absolutely fascinating. Now, companies are finding much more success talking in a direct, friendly, no-nonsense manner. Take the likes of Apple, or Trello, or Innocent Smoothies.
1. Make it feel like you're a friend recommending a service/product - through social proof (testimonials, case studies, statistics)
2. Write like you're talking to one person - not thousands (individuals are reading, not crowds)
3. Use conversational language (contractions like ain't, casual phrases like 'funny business')
4. Mix super short, short and medium sentence lengths (just like a normal conversation)
5. Address the readers needs/problems - offer them helpful advice or ask them explicitly to engage
We can learn a ton from the world of social media. On cultural, psychological, and practical business levels. So, next time you write that intro email, web page or flier, are you going to talk at your audience, or with them? I'll leave that up to you.
Daily Writing Tips is where I share my expertise on web writing, content strategy, online business, creativity, and more.