New media writing tips for businesses

The goal of business writing is to inform, engage and entertain a business audience.

People who read content online usually need to sift through thousands of words a day, so the best way to get your content read is to make it very clear and user-friendly. Whether you’re writing an email, a blog post, a Facebook message or copy for your website, there are some simple and practical principles you should follow. Here are four vital tips for writing for your online audience.

1. Use the right medium for the message
Should your message be an email announcement? A Facebook update? A lengthy blog post? Since there are so many options online, it’s crucial that the content, style and importance of the message are reflected in the channel chosen. Announcing that your company is closing for good deserves a thoughtful and longer post, while announcing that you’ll be closed on a public holiday can be done in a social media platform. Using the appropriate medium is half the battle, since the medium itself suggests additional information about the message.

2. Keep it short and simple
Online text is read very differently to its physical equivalents. Many people don’t enjoy reading on computer monitors, get distracted by all the other content on their computer, and usually don’t have the time to read complex texts in detail. Therefore, it’s vital that you keep your online content as short and simple as possible. Use common words, write short sentences and start a new paragraph for each new idea. Less is more when it comes to online text – don’t try to cram ever piece of information into one long text.

3. Structure is vital
An excellent way to make your text readable to computer users is to use a lot of structure when you formulate the text. For short text, like social media messages, keep the sentences and overall message short. For longer pieces, use headings throughout, frequent paragraph breaks, bold or italics to highlight important words and bullet points to list concepts. These tricks will make your content easily scannable, which means the reader can skim over the page and immediately pick out the interesting and relevant sections.

4. Write with keywords in mind
When you write online content, you are writing not only for your human readers, but also for the search engine programmes that “read” your content and organise it in their databases. These programs are responsible for making the most relevant content appear at the top of search engine results pages. To make sure the program knows what your content is about, make sure you put keywords into your text. Keywords are words or short phrases that are repeated several times throughout the text to emphasise the content on the page.

To learn more about improving your writing skills in business, consider the University of Cape Town Business Writing and Legal Documents course. For more information contact Anique on tel: 021 447 7565 or visit: