By Dan Haggerty
With changes in technology come changes in the way we see the world and how we record our findings.
This is something I learned this fall semester at Westfield State University when I took a class called Digital Writing.
Professor Beverly Army Williams stressed how new technology has given rise to new modes of communicating through the written word. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs of all types can be used to communicate ideas quickly and succinctly.
Most importantly, these new sites start conversations. Just look at any blog and you will see a dropdown list of comments where readers can share their feelings on a specific point, and the writer can answer them.
The ability to dialogue is what sets traditional writing outlets – like scholarly journals and newspapers – apart from newer outlets like blogs. While you can write a letter to the editor, for instance, there is no forum for comments, questions and response from readers. Those who read and write blogs, though, have a direct line to each other’s work, and they are free to discuss ideas.
Blogs and posts on social media also are not stagnant. A blog post or a status update is never truly finished. They are ongoing, so the conversation can be ongoing, giving writers the opportunity to modify their opinions and their work.
This may seem like a scary proposition. As I’m sure anyone who has ever written any kind of essay can tell you, there is no better feeling than finishing a work, putting it away and having that feeling of completion. However, the unfinished quality of writing on social media sites leads to constant improvement.
I started a blog for the Digital Writing course, and after every post, I would receive feedback from my professor on how I could make the post better build my voice and connect with readers.
My professor also suggested that I add questions at the end of the post so that readers would have a jumping-off point to start a conversation. Because it is easy and quick to edit a blog, I was able to make the changes she’d suggested, including adding questions at the end of my first few blog posts. I continued asking questions at the end of almost all my posts from that point on.
Posing questions at the end of a blog post is just one of the useful tips that my Digital Writing professor gave me on how to create a blog with dedicated readers. Some other guidelines and tips include keeping a post relatively brief so that the reader isn’t overwhelmed by all the content. Anywhere from 250 to 700 words is a good length for a post. She also suggested diversifying posts to keep the reader interested. These posts can take the shape of series, lists, reviews, editorials and interviews.
A blog can help you keep in constant contact with your clientele and likewise keep you updated on what your audience thinks about your product or service. This dialogue between company and consumer can strengthen your relationships. If an audience is vocal, they are rewarded with an improved product or service that takes their feedback into account. If the company takes into consideration the opinions of its customer base, the company is likely rewarded with improved sales and word-of-mouth advertising.
Remember that part about ending a post with a question? Well, here is one for you: if you are a business owner who doesn’t yet have a blog, what are you waiting for?