Cutting through the web

These days, we’re all writers, whether tweeting, texting, blogging or updating a website’s content management system. But just because you have the platform, doesn’t mean you’ll always give a spellbinding performance.

Here are five simple ways to give your words more wow factor, get your message across, and – ultimately – increase business.

1) Keep it short and simple

As the classic Mark Twain quote goes, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” These days, concision is even more important. Get straight to the point. Keep your paragraphs short. And make your sentences punchy.

2) Let your hair down

While text speak may be a step too far for most businesses, social media is one area where people expect a more natural, down to earth tone of voice.

As a first step, make sure you write in the first person ‘I’ or first person plural ‘we’ and keep your language relaxed, but always on brand. If it’s appropriate to your communication, a light touch and a little humour can go a long way.

3) Use joined-up writing

Just like a call-to-action at the end of a mailer, make sure you include links to your website, Facebook and Twitter feed. Over time, this will help you build a band of followers, increase visits to your site and improve your search engine rankings.

And, on that subject, make sure you include relevant search terms in your copy. You could write books on this dark art (and many people have), but the basic principles remain simple: consider what terms people will use to find your site, then include them in your content, your page titles, sub-headlines, links and labels.

4) Create once, publish everywhere (COPE)

Known in digital circles as COPE, this methodology enables you to get maximum value from everything you write. Essentially it means that you write the content once and then it can be adapted automatically for different devices.

There are many technical companies who will build a bespoke ‘open source’ CMS system for you. But there are also free ways to draw together the strands of your social media activity – for example, HootSuite, TweetDeck and Seesmic.

5) Check before you click

Whoever’s generating your social media content, make sure you have a robust editorial process in place – including a member of your legal or compliance team, if necessary. Check everything twice before you click the ‘share’ button.

In recent years we’ve seen many high-profile blunders and ill-conceived campaigns and, in the social media world, news travels incredibly fast. So make sure your messages are typo-free, thought-through and not going to cause offence.

Of course, not every business has the time or capabilities to produce polished, eye-catching copy across multiple channels. If you find yourself staring at the blank page, or fretting over a witty tweet, it might be time to call in the experts.