In my last article, I told you how to break up writer’s block. If you haven’t read that piece, go back and do that now.
The Web Requires Better, Different Writing
When writing any sort of electronic communication, short, quick and compelling content is more critical than printed text—especially on the Web. We're all channel surfers. People go online expecting to find information and move on. To hold their attention give them what they need right up front.
As a Web writer, you will need to make some adjustments to copy you've created for print. Don't just paste that content onto your site. Online, the tone can be much more informal, conversational, colloquial. You can break some of the English rules you learned in high school. Go ahead. Use a partial sentence to add punch. And starting an occasional sentence with the words and, so, or, and but is fine on the Web.
Be sure you break up information into bite-sized chunks and provide links to additional information. Reduce scrolling if possible (a sign that you may have too many words on any one page). Use shorter sentences. Less is more.
Twittering and Blogging Tips
Twitter is a fun and easy way to build rapport with a group of people. You can also learn quite a bit by “following” a Twitter stream for a while. You might learn that a client is going on vacation to Tahiti and offer a quick “tweet” back on a special resort to check out. You might learn that a journalist is looking for sources for a story. You might learn that a colleague has 2 free tickets to an industry conference. You might “tweet” that you are in Chicago looking for a good place to eat. You might post a few comments about a great session you’re attending at FPA Retreat. You might link to a good book or article and recommend people read it.
Twitter is, essentially, micro-blogging. If your compliance department allows you to blog, they may allow you to micro-blog as well, assuming you have jumped through all the pre-approval hoops (including having a books and recordkeeping system for archiving online content), then you all you need to do is set up your Twitter account or blog … and (yup) start writing.
Blog postings can be longer than Twitter postings (which are limited to just 140 characters, including the characters in the links you post—that’s one of the reasons you want to use a url shortener such as www.tinyurl.com). But blog postings should still be short and sweet. As you learn to blog effectively, you’ll get the hang of something I call “chunking”. You simply chunk up the information to create a stream of interesting content.
Try posting some multimedia content, too, to keep it fresh and give people choices. Everyone learns best in different ways. And we’ve all become lazy readers, especially online. Help people get a sense of your character with a short audio or video clip. Use short movies and good photos, too.
Tweeting and blogging requires that you have your head on straight at all times. You can’t be a constant chest thumper and create rapport. If you are rude or sloppy, people will notice. Think about what you want to accomplish with your online strategy and social media tools. Then put on your writing hat, remember who you are, and start composing. Proof the content twice before you hit “post.”
May You Live in Interesting Times
As electronic communications have become ubiquitous, many communications firms like mine are being asked to ghostwrite content for clients. Who’d have ever thought there’d be such a thing as a ghost-tweeter? But they do indeed exist!
Good writing is more important than ever before. Fine-tune your email etiquette and online basics and you’ll attract more business. You will also find, as I have, that the more you write, the more you’ll be asked to speak. And the more you speak, the more you’ll be asked to write. Being credible and visible in select niche markets can really pay off.
This is the fourth installment in my series of Marketing Maven articles on how to create better client correspondence, online content, and marketing communications. If you have missed any of the prior installments, please start at the very beginning --"Use Client-Centered Communications to Build Your Business" – and follow the thread of five articles all the way through to ensure best results. If you practice writing as instructed in the article series, you will improve your marketing results and build stronger relationships.
Marie Swift is a nationally recognized consultant who has for over twenty years worked exclusively with some of the industry’s top financial institutions, training organizations, investment advisory and financial planning firms. Her “Best Practices in the Financial Services Industry” blog provides additional insights and advice. Find it at www.marieswift.com. Get breaking news at www.twitter.com/marieswift
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