I once told a young writing student who was afraid to read her story out loud because “it wasn’t very good” that there is no such thing as bad writing – just unfinished writing.

Online communications is full of unfinished writing. But when you’re writing copy for your company’s Website or Facebook page, just how polished should you make your writing? Is it OK to show your personality?

Absolutely! The Web by nature is a raw medium – it is fluid, alive, changeable.

Yet some organizations treat their websites like they are little headstones for a corporate mission – chiseling their corporate messages on Web pages and abandoning them forever, never to be revisited. You’ve seen these sites – where information is woefully out-of-date, and “2009” is at the top of some pricing table or notice about “current offers” or events.

The best organization’s Websites are not the highly structured, static content sites, but the ones where organizations engage their users, keep content fresh, and strike a tone that reflects the authentic character of the organization.

Easy to say, but how exactly do you do that?

  1. To engage your users you need to understand them. Develop one or more user profiles. Figure out what they could get from you that will be of interest, and make sure they get to it. Your tone must be based on your understanding of your audience.
  2. Keep your content fresh by posting constant updates and material of interest. Don’t be the static headstone organization
  3. Reflect your character (or the character of your organization) and establish a tone for your writing  by tapping into the differentiators. What makes you different? Is it your founder (who could be you?) Is it something you do differently for your customers? Use that to your advantage.

Finally, you need a strategy for communicating across all your digital media channels. How often will your updates be in each social media venue?  What tone are you using in each? Social media venues tend to be very casual in tone, but your core message needs to be carried across all channels for consistency.

Each channel may have its own “identity” and character for your organization. The best way to do this is design core content to your core message and complimentary content that gives your company character.

For example, if you get a lot of new traffic to your professional site thanks to blogs or social media outlets, you need to be able to revisit the core message to accommodate the new influx of users. Its okay to revise some elements of your message as well as your tone over time as you develop your “character.”

Just remember – “unfinished writing” isn’t bad writing – it’s alive. Content has to be living, dynamic, and in some ways, perpetually “unfinished” to accommodate the kind of change that users expect from online media today.


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