Writing for digital

Writing for digital media is not like writing for traditional presses. There is no longer time to create a great introduction paragraph and add more detail, it is necessary to grab the reader’s attention in 3 seconds, which means the headline must engage the reader instantly.

It is personal

Social media is personal, it is a conversation between you and your fans / connections / viewers and anyone else that may be listening.

Most updates / tweets / posts are written in the first person (singular or plural). The third person does not work in digital media.

It is acceptable to say “we are having a promotion this afternoon” if representing a company. It is not great to issue posts / tweets etc like “The ABC Company is having a promotion this afternoon”.

Better still would be “I’m getting ready for a promotion at the ABC Company this afternoon”.

Short and sweet

LinkedIn and Twitter allow 140 characters (including spaces and punctuation) which includes your Twitter identity when someone is repeating (re-tweeting) what you have said.

This means writing short statements to tempt the reader to click on a link for more has become the norm.

Facebook conventions dictate short and sweet although there are no limits on post sizes. The average person posts a sentence or two at most.

Shorten links

When adding a link to a media release it can take up far too many characters. There are various websites which will reduce the size of a link, free of charge, so that http://www.evonomie.net/content.php/info_id/497 which is 88 characters becomes:

http://bit.ly/aAPxsj  - using bit.ly
http://tiny.cc/jql1x - using tiny.cc – used by The Times
http://alturl.com/qhabk - using short URL

Facts, figures and questions

Providing statistics, numbers, fascinating facts and questions generates better responses than direct statements. People are reading the posts / tweets / updates at their desk and a question like “have you visited the world’s best airport lounges” is more appealing than “new study on airport facilities”.

Punctuation and spelling

Punctuation has changed too. In social media it is not uncommon to see
For clients using social media spelling is important, if part of the brand image, but once the tweet or update is posted, it is difficult to retract.

If you issue something with an error, re-issue with the correct spelling. Better still, make another more useful statement.

Repurpose your content

Whenever you create a press release, write an article, say something, make sure it’s on LinkedIn (share with Twitter), on your blog, website news area and Facebook. Use the information, use it again and once more for good measure. For example a news item about a new partner at a law firm could have several different headings:


by Annmarie Hanlon

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