By Dustin Moseley (Business, ’11), Owner of Full Circle Social and the Social Media Coordinator for HeyGoTo Marketing & Social Media
It’s important to understand that nonverbal communication and tone is nonexistent when expressing yourself in text. Whether it’s an email, an article, or a Facebook post, you must always keep in mind that those two communication avenues don’t exist.
Just think about all the times you’ve read a text from your friend, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you had to read it over a few times before you had any idea of what they meant. And even then, you still weren’t exactly sure what they’re trying to say. Were they being serious? Were they being sarcastic? Surely they didn’t mean that…or did they!? Who knows?
The same potential for misunderstanding exists for all the readers who access your content online.
Make your message bite-sized, short and concise. If you try to write like you talk, there’s a 99 percent chance the reader will not receive that message as you meant it. If you have to write as you talk, practice with quotes and emoticons. For example, if you’re making a joke, a “smiley” face is appropriate to make sure that the reader knows you’re making a joke.
I think my generation is lazy. I mean, let’s be honest here, nobody wants to read a paragraph of text during their free time. If you want me to actually care about what you’re posting, make it short and interesting to read. Otherwise I’m moving on to the next interesting thing.
Did you know that the average person takes 3.4 seconds reading content before deciding whether to move on or not? Don’t believe me? The next time you’re scanning our Facebook newsfeed, pay attention to how long you take before moving on to the next post. Welcome to the generation of ADD.
Here’s my strategy for attracting online readers, but in bite-sized chunks:
- Less is more: if you want people to actually care about what you’re writing, make it short and interesting. If you have a long story to tell, make sure your first sentence is compelling enough to convince readers to continue on.
- If you have to post something that you wouldn’t want your parents to see, for cryin’ out loud, do not post it publicly.
- Before making a post, take a step back and read your content. Pretend that you’re reading it for the first time. Does it make sense? Does it really say what you want it to say? Could it be taken in a different way than you meant?