In today’s rapid-ﬁre digital landscape, we ﬁnd ourselves writing for multiple electronic platform—websites, blogs, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and more—during any given day (or hour).
When we’re short on time and funneling content to so many different channels, we naturally take
shortcuts. Yet with a hasty cut and paste from one to another, we miss opportunities to expand our audience and boost the impact of our work.
We’ve designed this guide to maximize the power of your online activities by helping you efﬁciently prioritize your time and tailor your content to each digital medium. It’s also meant to help you and your staff to brush up on some basic principles, dos and don’ts, and key tricks of the trade.
Principles to Live By Online
Know your audience
No matter what you’re writing, identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach? What will they gain from your message? What, in particular, is likely to pique their interests? When you have a speciﬁc audience in mind, write in the same way you’d speak to them.
You’ll ﬁnd it easier to craft concise messages that strike the right tone, speak your reader’s language, and resonate with shared values.
Sweat the small stuff
You can bet your readers are regularly bombarded with all kinds of competing messages, making it easy for yours to get lost in the shufﬂe. But when you treat the “little” details of your writing as more than mere afterthoughts, your work can rise above the din. In fact, it’s the small stuff—like creative headlines, intriguing subject lines, subtitles, search engine optimization, or even thoughtful Twitter hashtags—that truly represent your chance to grab attention.
We live in a world of “skimmers”: typical visitors only read 20 percent of the words on a web page, thousands of new tweets ﬂy by every minute, and email inboxes ﬁll up faster than anybody can read. To be noticed, your messages must be short, scannable, and get straight to the point. And by taking the time to make sure that all of your online messages ﬁt the appropriate channel—tone, style, pace, etiquette—you lower your risk of being blown off. Cutting and pasting isn’t forbidden but be sure to give your paste a quick makeover before you post.
With these basic principles in mind, let’s look at some of the most common digital platforms.
Published: June 20, 2012