I recently spoke at writing professor (and former Orlando Sentinel movie critic) Jay Boyar’s “writing for the future” class at Rollins College. Go ahead and test your writing for new media savviness with the following true/false quiz.
Always post original content.
False. Repurposing is the name of the game. As some public relations pros share here in Ragan’s PR Daily, “re-work, reuse, and repurpose past content in new ways to give it fresh life on social and digital media.” It’s best to work with the original content your company already has – and then give it a social media facelift. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have some new content woven in, but remember to first retool original content to be used in engaging ways for social media. This can be in the form of blogs, guest posts, podcasts, videos, webinars, etc.
Keep search engine optimization (SEO) top of mind in everything you write for new media.
False. I anticipate this answer to be debated. My opinion is that you should keep SEO in mind when you write, but it shouldn’t dictate style. After all, if the content isn’t good, SEO really won’t matter. This answer also depends on how important SEO ranking is to a particular business. Use your judgment, but know that if you don’t keep content king, there’s no room to court SEO.
Think visually when writing.
True. Use graphics to your advantage – and be creative in how you use them. Think about the simplest way to present data – whether it’s bulleted lists or infographics (I love visual.ly).
The more hyperlinks you use, the better.
False. No one is denying that “link love” isn’t smart (especially for SEO), but you have to make sure the links are helpful, appropriate and make sense where you insert them. A good rule of thumb is not to use more than one hyperlink every 100 words. Otherwise, it looks cluttered.
Use the same headlines for Facebook and Twitter that you use to push out press release content.
False. Facebook and Twitter headlines should be customized and tagged accordingly with appropriate handles and hashtags.
Shorter is usually better.
True (usually – but not always … just look at this blog post J). As Ann Handley and C.C. Chapman write in the excellent book Content Rules, the miniskirt theory of perfect length also applies to blog posts: You want to make them long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep them interesting.
Fact checking is extremely important when writing for new media.
True. Just because someone else posts false information or you see something on a website doesn’t mean that you’re exempt from fact checking for your own (personal or company) brand’s credibility. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Don’t subscribe to the “Gospel according to www.” Just because it’s on a website doesn’t mean that it’s been vetted at all – or is even remotely correct. Fact checking and sourcing are important. Make sure to give credit where credit is due, and that any knowledge you gain is attributed to the source.
Always talk about your brand and stay on message.
False. As Jimi Kunkel, social media strategist at Full Sail University, put it, “Don’t be afraid to be topical and step outside of your brand. Sprinkle in discussion and content related to topics that your community is interested in, even if it is outside of your industry.” Plus, no one likes companies (or people) who talk only about themselves.
Having an authentic voice is the most important thing when writing for social media.
True. The most important thing when writing for social media is being authentic. Authenticity is about being transparent and genuine. Content Rules explains authenticity best:
“It’s about not forcing your voice or style to be what it’s not; it’s about fostering a voice that best represents you, your company, and your goals, and that will resonate with your intended audience.”
It’s important to note that true/false answers are never entirely all true or false – so there’s always room for debate. Please share your thoughts if you have other perspectives.
Doreen Overstreet is VP of Public Relations at the firm. In her spare time, she enjoys teaching and giving – as well as taking – quizzes.