This Compelling Content Series will make it easier than ever for you to really connect with and move others. For the next three blog posts, you’ll receive tips to make your website content more compelling and relevant to the reader.
When it comes to the kind of words you want to use for online content (think website material, social media posts, and online ads), the rule of thumb is – keep it simple. Unlike fiction or other forms of professional writing, content copy needs feel very much speaking to the other person. When writing it imagine you are really speaking – in person. Often we suggest reading it out loud. It is safest to stay away from the words that are hard to understand within a blink of an eye. When in doubt, stick with one and two syllable words. The one most commonly used in every day speech, instead of niche jargon or large words meant to impress.
Again, the rule of thumb is always choose the simplest, most conversational term or phrase. All people respond best to words that are easy to process and positive in nature. This well-known fact has nothing to do with people’s intelligence. It is all about how the brain takes in and processes information. After all, your readers are people. All people take in words at the emotional or gut reaction level. This gut response responds best to brief, simple terms, things that they feel as: “I want,” “I need,” “I am,” “I believe,” etc. Using this proven tip will help you take advantage how the brain processes words. This will, in turn , help your reader know more about you, your company, your product, your services. And that is what compels them to be moved to take action.
Here are tips that will help you choose the right words and make your online presence (whether on your website, social media or ads) more helpful to you and your readers:
- Think commercially – Would you think of a slogan for a skateboard or for a brand of potato chips in the same way you would consider the title for a thesis paper for a journal? Short and catchy over impressive big words will always be best.
- Write for your audience – You might like Shakespeare puns, but your audience may not. Do your homework and know your audience. We recommend imagining every detail of a member of your target market – and then speak directly to that person.
- Use the half-second test (aka: the Blink test) – You might spend many hours going back and forth on a headline, or a sentence in an ad. Your audience won’t. Online content needs to do its job in a fraction of a second. Imagine your audience finding your content while flipping through channels or a magazine – if it can be read and understood in the blink of an eye, then it’s a good start.
- Be single minded – Double meanings are often duds. A double meaning isn’t “clever.” It waters-down your message (there are exceptions). Using double meanings in your online content goes against the Blink Test. Be careful not to try to be too clever – you just might out smart yourself.
- Think about other cultures – Your success may depend on your ability to reach as many people as possible from other language bases and cultures. Also, your online reader may be from Australia or England – we all know that English in those countries is very different from here in the US. lish. There are MANY differences between British, Australian and American English. (Best practice tip: have people with different backgrounds read it to see how they take it).
In the second post of the series – you’ll discover how Voice works. We’ll talk about how what you say is just an important as how you say it.
written by: Anthony Feggans