I read something the other day that went like this: “Being human is the new black.” I think it’s true. With all of the social experience we’re sharing online these days, communicating in a human way is almost the expectation.
This human-like approach made me think of Siri, the human-like voice that came with my new iPhone. Siri tries to answer whatever question I might have. Before she responds, she considers my voice query with a thoughtful phrase, such as “Let me check on that” or “Let me think about that”–something to give me confidence. If she can’t dig up an answer, Siri admits it by saying, “I can’t answer that,” and then dumps me into my browser so I can do my own searching. Technically, I know she’s relying on a huge database to help me out, but her friendly tone doesn’t give that away, and I appreciate the effort.
This trend toward communicating with a human voice is a growing one. If you want to keep up, here are 5 tips to keep in mind.
1. Relate to your readers.
Include language that’s reassuring. “It’s easy.” “Don’t worry.” “It’s free!” Give readers a hint of what’s coming up in your article—let them know what you’re going to cover. Anticipate their questions, and be sure to address them. Instill a feeling of camaraderie. It’s not too hard for me, I write often about pets. I also have some of my own, so it’s easy to relate to other pet people. But, you can usually find something you can relate to if you write with the “me” in mind.
2. Tell stories.
People enjoy reading an article even more if they know who’s writing it. I try to add something personal in each piece, sometimes relying on anecdotes to make a point or clarify a detail. Get chummy with your audience to make them feel a sense of collaboration with you.
3. Be an expert.
If you’re not a subject matter expert when you start writing an article, become one. Do your research! Get to know your audience. Readers should be able to trust you to give them facts that are accurate and complete. Don’t just learn the buzz words, try to get some insight into the culture and character of the business so you can write with authority.
I write about technical subjects (I worked for Microsoft for many years), and can usually figure out the issues, but it takes research to come up with the right questions to ask and the right answers to give.
4. Be likable.
I think there’s a difference between being friendly and being likeable. If you’re trying too hard to be friendly when you write, you can come off as annoying. Be likeable by giving readers a reason to appreciate your efforts. They might want to spend only a few seconds scanning the article, so make it worth their while. Don’t make them wade through a bunch of dry or unnecessary facts. Even with a serious subject, you can be entertaining.
5. Write content that readers will want to share.
There is a lot of value in having your content shared. When you provide fresh ideas, it gives you credibility and reader loyalty. The more unique, the better chance your work will have to be shared across social media. Make it your goal to write content that your website visitors will want to share on Facebook or other social networking sites. Real people want interaction with other real people, and emotional content is key to their desire to share it. If you share your own thoughts, it will encourage readers to do the same. Based on the comments you get, you might even want to write a follow-up piece.
Be a person in your writing. Don’t hide behind words. Whatever business you’re in or are writing about, it’s always a people business in the end.
To get a glimpse of who’s writing this, see my company website, myworkingwords.com.