Guest Post by Susan Hoffman, Blog Editor
Digital communication such as websites, blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have made it much easier for you to reach a global audience. But using digital communication to effectively reach your audience and motivate them to take action requires some work as well as social etiquette.
Here are 10 best practices to follow for digital communication:
- Double-check everything before publication.
It is all too easy to accidentally make a typo or forget to check a fact before you publish. But your audience will quickly point out any errors they see, especially on social media. It is much easier (and less embarrassing) to double-check your content before it goes online.
- Write in a format designed for Web readers.
According to a study done by user experience experts Nielson Norman Group, Web readers often skim through an article by reading in an F-shaped pattern. Your headline, sub-headers and first paragraph must quickly grab their attention.
Also, break up your paragraphs into two or three sentences. Paragraphs of this length are much easier for your Web audience to read, especially on mobile devices.
- Learn search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to help search engines find your online content. Moz offers an excellent beginner’s guide to SEO. Remember that SEO changes over time, so keep up with the latest changes to understand how they will affect your writing.
- Use Google Alerts to monitor and manage your digital reputation. Set up a Google Alert so that you are quickly informed when someone writes about you or your company. It only takes a short amount of time and you’ll be able to easily see what readers say about you.
- Let online relationships develop before asking for favors. Take the time to get to know your audience and their needs, rather than asking for favors right after you meet them. Digital communication makes soliciting favors easy, but it’s also considered rude to do the “ask” too soon.
- Once you have online relationships, nurture them. I often send notes to my LinkedIn connections, just to see how they are doing or commend them on a recent achievement. Even sending a short note saying “How are you doing?” or “Congratulations!” can be very meaningful to the person receiving it.
- Remember that a lot of your audience may read your online content by using mobile devices.
Help your mobile readers and ensure that your content is pleasing to readers’ eyes.
Use a lot of blank space, break up your paragraphs at times with bulleted or numbered lists, and don’t overload your webpages with text. The Australian educational website Open2Study offers a useful free course in Writing for the Web to help you understand what Web readers prefer to see.
- Double-check your content after you publish. Sometimes, technical errors may occur with your online content or photos may suddenly disappear. Be sure to review any content you post after it’s live, so that readers see it in the way you intended.
- Use plenty of visuals. Photographs, infographics and short videos are a great way to liven up your content. They aid your readers in understanding what you’re communicating and often offer greater insight than just telling a story with words.
- Check for copyrights.
If you quote someone else’s text, be sure to give them proper attribution. And if you’re using visuals such as photographs, it’s best to use your own or use images that are public domain. Many images on the Web are copyrighted and you could get into legal difficulties if you use them without the owner’s express permission.
Digital communication is a fantastic way to make people care about issues, to teach them new information through stories or to show them the human face of a company. However, doing careful work and following proper etiquette makes digital communication much more effective.