How do you decide on the tone you take online?
To keep your content accessible, it is a good idea to use plain English wherever you can and go slowly when you are introducing new or complex information. Ireland’s National Adult Literacy Agency says that 25% of people in Ireland have difficulties with literacy and numeracy.
The UK is Irish tourism’s primary market and the average reading age there is 9. The average reading age needed to skip through an article in The Guardian is 14.
Many of your highest-spending visitors may find you through a travel article in The Guardian or a text-heavy, specialist magazine, but reading fluency isn’t a true measure of a person’s interests, intelligence, or spending power. It is important to include as many people as possible in the welcome your words give online.
Simple, well-illustrated, emotionally powerful messages can help you reach everyone who will enjoy spending time in Ireland or in your online store.
Break Ideas Up into Manageable Chunks
One complex post can often be broken down into three simple ones that readers will find easier to digest. Simple posts can be used to create a ‘drip drip’ effect that will help you to build engagement with a new product or offer over a few days or weeks. And, in a crowded tourism or e-commerce marketplace, a sequence of posts can help to focus attention in a way a single post simply cannot do.
If you have ever worried about how to create enough material for your Facebook page or your Instagram posts, Plain English can help. Content creation is much easier when you separate out ideas or focus on individual features of your offer. Give interesting information room to breathe!
Use Complex Words Well
Using Plain English will improve your ability to communicate with a wide audience. But, of course, we all have complex ideas to communicate at one time or another, and people enjoy encountering new concepts and words online.
A post about ‘Petrichor’ – the smell in the air after rain – is shared by every walking route Facebook page at least annually. Other pages will want to share technical or scientific terms sometimes. And jargon or ‘in-crowd’ language can create a welcome sense of belonging for people who are in the know and want to feel like they are talking to like-minded souls.
It’s fine to use fancy or jaw-breaking words every now and then, but make sure that you use them generously. Always give enough of a hint or an explanation to bring everyone in and let everyone enjoy them.
Don’t pack lots of complex language into one post, and keep sentences with unusual language or terms short so that you are not bamboozling people on several fronts at once!
5 Tips for Better Writing Online
- Take time to draft your posts. If you would like your message to produce a return, it makes sense to invest time in creating it.
- Adopt a ‘one idea, one post’ strategy. If a whole set of new ideas start to creep into your draft, pull them out and make each one into a separate piece of content.
- Use a mixture of short and long sentences. This will add variety to your posts and, if the most complex ideas are put in the short sentences, it will make your messages easy to understand too.
- Read your post out loud before you press send. If you can read the whole post fluently out loud, your text is easy to read. If you stumble, so will the reader. (This is because we write slowly, but read and speak quickly).
- Address your posts to a specific audience. When you focus on who you are talking to, you make it easier to make the right choices about language and tone. Different posts can be aimed at different parts of your overall audience, but focused posts will help you attract and hold the attention of the people your idea suits best.
Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, and Planoly allow you to draft posts and schedule them. Working on batches of posts can save you time and give you the opportunity to focus on your audience too. Well-planned messages will reach your audience more effectively than rushed posts, and they are more likely to produce the return you are looking for from your writing online.