Workshop: The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity

Blogger: Sarah Hansen (Space Coast Chapter)

The Great American Novel: TL;DR, Writing for Social and Web in the age of Brevity
Presented by: Jeff Stevens, Assistant Web Manager, UF Health

@kuratowa l slideshare.net/kuratowa l #FPRA16WK5

TL;DR: an acronoym meaning “too long; don’t read” (used often on comment boards)

Americans currently consume about 11 hours of media daily- 23% percent is social. In a thrilling workshop, XX discussed creative a voice for your brand and how to translate it to the brief world of web and social, where you’re lucky to hold the attention of consumers for more than two minutes.

Voice, tone and style

  • Voice: A brand’s personality. What does it sound like when you talk to people? What is your brand and what isn’t your brand?

  • Tone: How do you talk to people in different situations?

    • Funny vs. Serious

    • Formal vs. Casual

    • Respectful vs. Irreverent

    • Enthusiastic vs. Matter of Fact

  • Style: Punctuation, Style, Abbreviation, Titling, Spelling,

    • Speciality language is included here.

    • Use of singular “they” is becoming more popular in most styles.

  • Examples/Resources of excellent brand guides:

General Tips For Social and Web

  • Keep it brief. 79% of users scan pages, 16% read pages.

    • We get too verbose with our websites and we need to tone it down. What are consumers looking for?

    • You’re competing with the scroll on social. Most people are not going to click “read more” on Facebook unless you’ve captured their interest.

      • Optimum post length according to study- 40 characters on Facebook & 110 characters on Twitter.

  • Deeper content. When writing more content, use websites and for more engagement, use instant article publishing on facebook (when you read an article, but never actually leave the Facebook app).

  • Avoid jargon.

    • Speak in a language that your consumers recognize and can find.

    • Grammar counts. It can make or break your message.

  • Resources:

    • Writerack.com – a website that breaks out longer pieces into twitter “chunks.”

Tips for writing for the web:

  • Write for understanding.

    • Avoid vague language open to misinterpretation.

  • Write for accessibility.

  • Writing for translation- are international audiences able to translate?

  • BREAK IT UP- headings and subheading. Chunk your content into logical areas

  • Use bulleted lists- easier for scanning.

  • Focus your content. Most important at top and least important at bottom.

    • “Crazy Egg” scans your content to figure out where people stop scrolling on your page.

  • Avoid layout location specific content.

  • Use active voice.

  • Avoid synonyms.

    • Consistent language makes it easier for translators to pick up.

  • Be brief, but be clear.

  • Never underline text on the web- people may think it’s a link.

  • Write for your keywords. (headers, subheaders, in the content)

  • Never use “click here”- hyperlink a whole sentence. Also helps with SEO so google knows what the link is. Embedding the YouTube video is preferable.

  • Optimize for social: “specify a sentence so it says “tweet this” or at a glance short copy. (highlight points or quotes)

Resources:

  • Slickwrite.com: Takes your copy and shows you areas that are not common vernacular.

  • Readability-score.com: Reviews your content to see the reading grade level.

Writing for Social

  • Organic reach mean shared content.

  • Virality means content quality vs. clickability (must meet together).

  • Curiosity gap:People are hardwired to understand more behind an unclear headline. Intrigue them enough to “fill the gap.”

    • Facebook doesn’t like this. Just last week they announced that they tweaked their algorithm and they now “look for click bait and take it off the news feed.”

    • In other words, write clear, specific and informative posts.

  • Use the imperative: take action. Be immediate and in the moment.

  • Posts should be about learning:

    • “How to” “Help” “Beginners Guides” “Learn in Five Minutes”

  • Ask questions! Studies show it doubles engagement

  • Name dropping works well too. Familiar brands, celebs etc.

  • Use numbers:

    • Example: Buzzfeed writes lists.

    • Headlines with odd numbers have 20% higher click-through.

  • Keep it casual:

    • Be a person. Use slang.

  • Emojis can help with shorter character space. (be careful of how emojis differ on various devices)

  • Hashtags: great for getting into existing conversations. Be sure to look at other ways people might interpret it.

    • Ritetag.com helps determine a good hashtag by name.

Final takeaway:

  • Know when to break the rules.

  • Some things might not work for your audience.

  • Complete A/B Testing- refine your content, tone and timing.

  • For websites- use google analytics experiments to see what layouts your audience likes the most.

StevensJeff Stevens has 15 years of experience in web and social communications at the University of Florida and in branding and graphing design with Union Design & Photo. He believes in the power of helping people connect and solving design and content challenges together. As assistant web manager at UF Health, he is responsible for content and social strategy and information architecture for patient care websites and advises on the 700 sites that make up their web presence.

 

 

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