How to Write for the Web If You Were Born Before 1965

by Jennifer Beever on July 23, 2014


With the proliferation of the new “content marketing,” writing skills for online marketing are more important than ever. And, if you learned to write before or in the early days of personal computers, you may have some habits that no longer work for today’s online marketing world.

Recently I’ve been working with clients to generate content in the form of blog posts and webpages for their websites. I noticed that for some who were active with computers, software development and the early days of social media would submit documents using all caps, underlined phrases and sentences, and even highlighting words with different colored fonts to emphasize certain points.

I puzzled over this for just a little bit, before I realized that these are the computer and online pioneers. These folks were generating content and messages for others on typewriters and computers before many consumers who use the Internet today were even born. These pioneers were programming in little flashing emoticons and special fonts onto their green screen displays to liven things up. This was cool then, and it’s interesting that emoticons are now embedded in text messaging on phones and in social media.

But there are some things that are no longer necessary and are actually a turnoff for today’s readers (and editors). Here is a list to help content writers who were born before 1965 write better content for online use.

1. There is no need to type two character spaces between sentences.

Those of us who typed our term papers and reports in high school and college were trained to hit the space key twice before the next sentence.  Online that looks awkward; there’s too much room between sentences.  And, if you’re limited on character space as happens with LinkedIn Company Page updates (600 characters) and with Twitter (140 characters), every space counts!

2. ALL CAPS is considered screaming online and in email.

Don’t use all caps to emphasize a point. It’s tempting, but when email was growing in popularity, an etiquette emerged. This became one of the rules. Use bold or italics instead of all caps for emphasis.

3. Underlining words in online content can be confusing. Here’s why.

Today underlined text on a webpage usually indicates that the reader can click on the text and go to a link. So, if you underline your text in online content, the reader can get confused and frustrated when it doesn’t link to anything. Use italics or bold instead. I recommend using italics for one word that you want to emphasize or as the protocol for book and other titles. Use bold for entire sentences or phrases that you want to stand out.

4. Using different font colors can make your text difficult to read, and it’s confusing.

Similar to underlining, a different font color can indicate that the words in the second color are a hyperlink to another page. It’s standard to have one color for normal text (usually black or gray) and a second for hyperlinks (usually blue). Mixing in more colors is a bad design choice. In addition, some colors are hard to read. Older people have a hard time reading red. Yellow is very hard to see on screen and on slide presentations.

These are small changes that make a big difference for editors when you submit new content and to readers when the content is posted. To those of you who have weathered decades in business and are writing content for the web, congratulations! And, please don’t be offended that I’ve singled out people of a certain age. I’m a dinosaur like you. I had to retrain myself to not hit two spaces between every sentence when I typed for online use several years ago! It wasn’t easy!

If you want to get found online through content marketing and social media, contact New Incite today. We provide consulting and outsource marketing services to increase your marketing results.

Photo on Flickr by Kevin Dooley. Some Rights Reserved.



B2B Marketer: What’s In Your Toolbox?

by Jennifer Beever on July 16, 2014

HammerYou’ve probably heard the saying, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” In business to business (B2B) marketing now more than ever, there’s a lot of hammering going on – and a lot of noise out there – because marketing tactics keep changing.

I see many vendors approaching B2B marketing with the “tool du jour,” because they hear something new is the next best thing. That’s using a hammer and hoping everything is a nail. I also see a good number of B2B companies stick with traditional tactics, believing that new tools such as social media and digital marketing don’t apply. That’s a toolbox that doesn’t contain the most effective tools and isn’t competitive.

I believe in integrated and strategic marketing. So when a B2B company comes to me saying, “We need SEO!” or, “We need social media!” it’s at least a yellow flag, because what we really need to do is look at the whole picture. There is no use doing SEO or driving traffic to a website via social media if the brand is wrong or the website is ineffective.

On the other hand, dropping traditional marketing tools altogether and focusing on new tactics like content marketing and social media alone is also risky. Some traditional tactics, like trade shows (I’ve had great success with these – see my list of B2B trade show resources here) or published articles or even print ads (in some cases), still work!

The key is choosing the best marketing tools for each situation, which of course depends on your target audience and your marketing budget. Find out the best way to reach your audience and stay within budget, using the m0st effective tools out there, old and new.

So, B2B marketer, what’s in your toolbox?

If you want to do the right marketing, to the right audience, and generate the right results, call New Incite today. We’ll work with you to find the right marketing tools for success, and we can also execute them for you as your outsource marketing resource.

Photo from Flickr by Kyle May, Some Rights Reserved.



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Why You Should Rethink That Snarky Social Media Comment

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When it Comes to Blog Post Length, Is More More?

My answer to the question, “How long should my blog post be?” has always been, “As long as it takes.” I took to the web to see if others think differently, and what I found surprised me. Most seem to concur that a good post answers a question or completes a thought or opinion with […]

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