To be read or not to be read

By Marie-Noëlle Morency

I’m a communicator. Every day, I write content: collateral pieces, press releases, internal memos, and so on and so on. And before I even write down a line, I ask myself: who am I talking to? why am I writing to them, what message do I want to communicate? The ‘’who’’ and the ‘’why’’ have always been my trusted advisors, guiding me on the right path to creating impactful pieces of communication.

And then, came along digital and social media. I started to write tweets, Facebook posts, and blog articles. And two questions became just as important as the ‘’who’’ and the ‘’why’’: the ‘’what’’ and the ‘’how’’. Because technology has changed reading habits, and brought a whole new set of challenges.

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As marketing expert Jeanne Sachs perceptively explains in her article Why Even the Best Journalists Need Help Writing Digital Content: ‘’Even if you are a highly trained and experienced writer you really do need help to get more people reading and engaging with all your fantastic content. There are new “rules” that are specific to digital communication (both web and mobile) that have a huge impact on whether or not your article will get seen, read and more.’’

When writing digital content, you need to pay careful attention to what you write about: what is the topic that will resonate with your audience, what people are itching to read and talk about, what will make them choose your article over the hundreds of thousands of other articles available at the same exact moment, and what will keep them reading until the end. An article in Slate “You Won’t Finish This Article” reported that less than 50% of the people who even click on your article ever finish reading it.

And that is where the ‘’how’’ comes into play: it starts with choosing a catchy title, making your text scannable with subtitles and bullet points, optimizing it with tags and keywords, and using stylistic and linguistic elements to convey an emotional response from your readers that will keep them captivated and engaged.

The good news is, you can measure how well you are doing by capturing the number of views, shares, retweets, comments you are getting. You can then fine-tune your writing strategy by trying out different topics, changing the frequency of your posts, or adjusting the tone, style and format.

I have certainly done my share of trials and errors. But just as social media platforms will continue to change and evolve, as a writer I also have to go with the flow, and be willing to adapt ‘’what’’ and ‘’how’’ I write to a new generation of readers.

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