Don’t Make It Too Salty: Balancing Writing Style and Professionalism in Content
When you’re working on content for your company’s blog, it’s important to appeal to readers. Thus, most company blogs go for a conversational and informal tone and writing style. However, it’s also important to remain professional when talking to an audience of potential customers and clients.
There’s a fine balance between having too much of a conversational tone and being too professional. In fact, you can think of business content writing as being akin to creating a delicious dinner – add too much salt, and your food is ruined; but if you don’t add enough salt, the food will be bland. Here’s how to keep a good balance of style and professionalism in your content.
First Have a Target Reader in Mind
One way to keep the balance in check is to know who you are talking to. Many successful content marketers create an ideal customer or client profile. While you may have done target market research while creating your business plan, chances are, you didn’t create an “ideal customer.”
To do this, you’re going to choose one, typical person out of your audience. This is the person who will be ecstatic to purchase your products or services. How old is this person? What is this person’s gender? What kind of background does this person have? What sorts of TV shows does the person enjoy watching? What are his or her hobbies? What problems does he or she need solving that you can help with?
This is the person you will be writing to when you’re creating your content. Some marketing experts like to go so far as to have a graphic designer create an image of the person to go with an information sheet that is kept near while creating content.
Is Cursing Ever Appropriate?
That, honestly, will depend on your audience. How old is your market base? What are they likely to value? Are they more traditional? Know that if you throw curse words into your content, you risk alienating some of the more conservative individuals who may be reading your blog. Be okay with that fact if you do decide to speak as if you were among close friends on your company’s blog. It used to be general practice to avoid such language in professional writing, but many companies have now embraced being potentially offensive to some in order to attract others.
The answer to this question is best answered by looking to your ideal reader profile – is this person likely to be turned off by an f-bomb appearing in your content? If yes, then avoid using them in.
To Be Funny or Not to Be Funny
Humor can sometimes fall flat or go over people’s heads. Choosing what level of humor to use in your content can be tricky. Be too funny and customers won’t take you seriously. Have a deadpan sense of humor and people may take your sarcasm seriously. Remember that humor doesn’t always translate over the Internet. If creating a subtle joke that some may miss, you may want to run it past a colleague to see if he or she “gets it.” Otherwise, if you’re being funny, be blatantly funny. Avoid sarcasm as it can often be misinterpreted – even by those who ought to pick up on it.
The Use of “I” and “You”
Chances are, there was an English teacher who beat into your head that you shouldn’t use “you” or “I” in your writing. While this may certainly be true of academic writing and technical writing, this just isn’t the case when creating content. Don’t be afraid to talk directly to that ideal reader. Doing so makes it more personable – and goes a long way toward fulfilling the purpose of creating blog posts in the first place. It brings your reader into a conversation and makes it more likely that he or she will reach out through your comments section or the contact form on your website.
Getting Involved with Pop Culture and Memes
Most people still remember the blue/white versus black/gold dress controversy that blew up social media not so terribly long ago. There have been many such posts that have become part of the common experience since. Sometimes companies try to jump in on very popular memes and events to help get new readers. This is fine – if said readers are within the scope of your target market. Otherwise, you risk going over the head of that ideal reader and gaining readers who are not your potential customers or clients. The problem with the latter is that it can cause you to lose focus on the content that does matter and that does convert readers into customers and clients.
Just how much of yourself should you let your readers see? The answer to that will largely rely on your niche, your business type, and your ideal reader. The biggest piece of advice that can be offered is: don’t overshare. Your readers really don’t need to know that you were up all night with two violently ill kids who have the stomach flu. Instead, share stories that are likely to show your audience how you and your company are best suited to help members with their own problems.
The Gentle Balance
A lot of problems with balancing style and professionalism can be solved simply by having your ideal client in mind. If you’re writing to this person, and the posts you create speak directly to him or her, you are most likely to convert readers into clients and customers. A lot of questions about style and what’s okay in terms of informality can be answered by asking yourself, “Is this something that my ideal reader would enjoy or respond to?”
Have you struggled with finding a balance between being professional and maintaining your own writing style on your business’s blog? Share your struggles in the comments.
Need help with creating content that connects? EVG can work with you to create content that reaches the right audience at the right time. Email us today to find out more.