I do a lot of communicating online through emails, posting blogs, and social media updates. All of these things deserve special consideration. Usually, things go okay, but I have also pulled some bonehead moves. Some things made me cringe as soon as I hit the enter key.
Communicating online is an art form and doing it well requires lots of practice, just like playing the piano or guitar. There are fundamentals and guidelines you need to keep in mind. If you don't practice those fundamentals correctly, your communication will not perform the way you want them to. If a person can misinterpret something - you can be sure they will.
There are reasons why online communication is in a different class than an in-person chat or a telephone conversation. Communicating online is a key way you develop your image online. Understanding the following points can help you become better at the art of online communication.
Conveying tone online is different from conveying tone in real life. In real life people can notice things like your body language and tone of voice. In person or on the telephone you can place emphasis where needed or make corrections to your tone because it's easier to read their reactions. On the internet or in writing in general it can be much harder to convey the tone.
In order to make sure you're conveying the right tone in your communications reread what you are writing often. This can help ensure what you are about to say doesn't come off as sarcastic or negative. If you are using jokes, make sure that every party you are communicating with knows it's a joke. Otherwise it can reflect badly on you and leave people with the wrong impression.
TIp: I read what I'm writing out loud to myself. Doing that helps me catch some things that I may not have caught reading silently. When we read silently we tend to read over errors. Our mind will construct what we want rather than seeing what's there. Also, reading something out loud allows you to interpret the rhythm and cadence of what you're writing. Hearing what you're written will give you a better idea of how the person reading it will receive it.
Use Everything the Internet has to Offer
When you are communicating online it's important to use the internet's advantages. One way to do this is to link to authoritative websites. You can use the information you discover to back up your arguments and make your conclusions clearer. It's so easy to use the internet to look up statistics, if you don't have something to back up what you say your arguments could look fragile. Remember, you're telling a story that you want to be authoritative, relevant, and engaging. Your story is made stronger with facts.
Tip: In addition to the benefit of building your case, you'll also gain additional SEO marks by citing authoritative websites. Everybody knows that getting other sites to link to your site is gold. But after looking in to it, I have found that linking out from your site to authoritative cites like The Huffington Post, CNN, or others can also be looked on kindly by the search engine in the sky. It's good to have a few links to external sites. If you're worried about your reader leaving your site - just open the link in another window. They still have your site open and you've provided them with something valuable.
Know Your Audience
Know the audience you're trying to communicate with and speak to them. Every good writer has an audience in mind when they start creating content. You should know how that audience speaks, how they think of things, where they hang out etc. The more research you do the better able you will be to talk specifically to that audience.
Tip: Make it your business to know your audience better than anybody else. Use all the means at your disposal. Interview your current clients and interview people you would like to be your clients. Get them to tell you what keeps them up at night. Solutions to problems will engage prospective customers much better than continued harassment.
Let it Cool Off
Another thing you can do is to use the draft feature that many e-mail providers have. If you use this you can reread your messages as many times as you'd like before sending it out. You can make sure the intention is clear, the purpose is apparent, and the document just makes sense. Use your draft email to help you get your ducks-in-a-row. Lining up ducks is always a good thing.
Tip: If it doesn't have to go out right away, why not sit on it for a while. When you come back to it, I'm sure you will see it quite differently. I can see many things I want to change whenever I let it cool off for a while. When you come back to it, the text will be fresh and you will see it in a completely different way. Guaranteed.
Art is About Conveying a Message
In the final analysis, art is about conveying a message in a skillful and insightful manner. It doesn't matter what medium you're using. You can use clay, oil paint, charcoal, watercolor, or you can use the written word. Art is expressing your ideas, your passions, and your thoughts in whatever vehicle best suites the needs of the message. That is why conveying a cogent, understandable, and clear message on the internet is so important.
Make your message the best that it can be. Take your time, do your homework, post your thoughts and then let people know you're there. You can let people know you're there through social media. That is where folks gather, that's where people get their information today. Make your message something someone would want to follow then - get the word out.
According to Forbes: 78% Of Salespeople Using Social Media Outsell Their Peers
So be there too.
These simple tips will help you communicate online and keep your business partners happy.
I am an artist, an analyst, a researcher, and an online development specialist serving the online information industry.