Many of us write for digital, be it for work or when we post on social media. But how can we make ours stand out in the blizzard of content that gets posted every day?
There are numerous tips and tricks to getting the most out of your digital communications – far too many to list here – but below are 10 important ones to bear in mind.
1. Consider your audience
The very first question to ask is, “Who am I writing this for?” Understanding your target audience will help you decide on aspects such as tone, the type of language you use and even the length of your communication.
Rather don’t try and write copy that’s for everyone, because you run the risk of appealing to no one.
2. What’s the story?
Now consider what you’re going to write about. Figure out a few key messages – the important stuff you want to communicate – and write with them in mind.
Don’t try and impart everything you know about the topic; people won’t have the time or inclination to read it.
3. Headlines and intros
Just as with old-fashioned analogue writing, your headlines and introductory paragraphs are where you hook (or lose) your readers. Make your headlines and intros short and eye-catching – and restrict your intro to one thought.
4. The platform
A web page is not a blog is not a tweet. Each digital platform has its own pros and cons, to be exploited and avoided respectively. Understanding what they are will go a long way towards helping you focus your writing for that platform.
5. Think visually
Smart writers grasp that words alone won’t cut it. Illustrate your writing with images, infographics, videos and GIFs, which make your messaging visually attractive.
But thinking visually also means making the verbiage look readable. Avoid long, long sentences and especially long paragraphs, which can cause people’s eyes to glaze over before they read a word.
Keep your sentences short, and only one or two per paragraph. Use subheads to break up copy (like with listicles such as this article).
6. Spel it rite
Anyone with a smartphone’s a writer nowadays, but very few take care with their spelling and grammar. If you want to be taken seriously, then your copy has to be letter-perfect.
If you aren’t confident that it is, get someone else either to write the copy for you or to edit yours. Either way, it’s good practice to have a second pair of eyes look at copy – it’s difficult for a writer to spot their own errors.
7. Do the geeky stuff
If you want your work to climb search rankings, then you have to take care of search engine optimisation (SEO). That means inserting relevant keywords and properly worded metatags into your posts, for search engine bots to pick up, without the copy becoming stilted.
Also, ensure that your post or page’s URL (its web address) matches the headline. URLs with all kinds of numbers and extraneous letters should be avoided.
Your search ranking is also influenced by hyperlinking to other pages – but don’t overdo it! Rather pick the best few, and insert them into your post.
9. Remember mobile
More and more, people consume online content on their phones. Make yours eye-catching and easy to consume; if the text is too small or the page is too busy, or people have to zoom in and scroll left and right, you’ve likely lost them.
10. Include references
Just like including references is vital to establishing an academic paper’s credibility, so it is for digital writing. Citing sources says that you’ve done your homework, and that you’re not just spouting opinion (unless your piece is intended as opinion, of course).