Sunday, March 19, 2006

10 Ways To Make Sure People Understand You Over IM - A Blue Ferret Web-Com Tipsheet

I know it's frustrating.

You can't understand your co-workers when they do that. Typing out messages to you on IM like, "i m not goign 2 B in teh office 2day." You IM the guy in Accounting to ask him a question about your project, and get hasty, unrelated answers because he's not paying attention.

But how do you tell them, "Hey! I can't understand this stupid IM you sent me! Why don't you write in plain English?" without sounding like a jerk?

Answer: send them this tipsheet!

10 Ways To Make Sure People Understand You Over IM

It's a handy (yet subtle) way to help your company message better. From clearer writing to a better focus on what's important in a conversation.

Why am I offering this tipsheet, free to you? Well, I'm frustrated with unintelligible IM conversations too. But that's only half of it. Keep on reading; what I'm going into affects all Web writing everywhere.

I'm also writing this to help introduce my concept of "Web-Com" - Web communications. It's half-technology, half-writing principles.

The Web is used primarily to communicate with data. But we as people use it every day to communicate with other people, through email, instant messaging, webpages, blogs, RSS, etc. Simple, right?

So why do so many companies scare off and/or frustrate their customers on the Web? Why do so many Web companies never get off the ground, struggling to even stay afloat?

The problem lies in the fact that we tend to think one thing and say another - close to what we thought, but not quite. Why? Because we aren't always considering how the other person will interpret what we've said. Communication is always two-way, even if we forget to consider that. Even right now, the thoughts and motivations behind what I'm typing aren't fully carrying to you. And you're adding in your own thoughts and motivations subconsciously.

A few companies out there understand this. They don't use the stiff, formal language and marketing strategies that were developed years ago. They consider how their audience thinks, feels, reacts. They use technology that makes it easy for their customers to talk WITH them, and language that treats them with respect.

Sadly, most companies don't do this. And their profit scores reflect it.

So, over the course of the next few months, I'll be introducing a series of information products and articles to outline my impression of Web-Com, how companies can use this approach to attract more clients, and how they can build relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. The Web is an environment to communicate WITH people, not AT them. These markets are two-way. Let's start talking.



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