Writing for the Web in 2018: What Ideal Toolkit?
There was a time when Web writing was the joy of questioning specialists and futurists embodied in the Web. This already long time ago when images did not dominate online spaces and texts slipped easily and invariably into the heart of blogs. The early 2000s when this uncertain world moved forward naively without advertising believing that individual expression would dominate the planet. There was Press Online on one side and the other, that awesome, vibrant expression that no byte border seemed to stop.
The golden age of blogging
One then learns in books and in training courses to write well on the Web, to succeed in one’s Web site by structuring one’s Web pages with finely chosen words. The grail is to find oneself in the lists appearing on other blogs: one discovers the writings Web by bounce; the hyperlink really links the writings.
Media and professionals who end up devouring blogs
From the mid-2000s, the concomitant revolution of content management systems (CMS) and the arrival of comment fields took precedence over this frenzied idealism, a key moment in the professionalization of a slew of blogs and the arrival of brands as partners and sponsors. This small world sees the arrival of the sponsored ticket in the heart of writings.
It is fashionable for the traditional media to team up with star bloggers and promote the hosting of these same blogs on their portal. The contents are structured with a communication aim to impact. The graceful and beautiful feathers are spotted by the press groups in search of the Web; some blogs going so far as to be bought out by media groups in the somewhat idyllic hope of easily gaining “new audiences”.
Now the media class is back in the arena of works where web writing merges with the history of information processing. At the same time, Google has become the king of content referencing. In order to write well for the Web, we must propose to think above all for the star search engine. Good natural referencing (or other) is so important. The specialized books follow this basic trend.
Professionals and institutions are also starting to blog: so-called pseudo-conversational spaces for good-looking CEOs, politicians wishing to evolve in other media spheres, brands with their door … Individuality has taken precedence over the collective.
The realm of writing skillfully captured by digital social media brands
In 2007, barely after leaving its cozy nest, Twitter took articles by surprise (or posts depending on your webesque obedience) to signify the beginning of the end of a writing where the text reigns supreme. What matters now are subscribers, share rates, engagement. From reason that builds thought, we seek to master shock formulas, short sentences that impact and therefore imprint, symphonize the Web: it is the emotional reaction that must prevail.
The platformization of the Web is underway: the writings caught up by the surge of MySpace then Facebook, Pinterest and professional social networks such as LinkedIn in ambush. Images become the gateway to reading the text: we first retain the image as an invitation to consult the words. Funny world of writing where the media are jostled by these new entrants that we did not see coming: by owning the platform, the capture of the audience and the attention is inevitable.
In books and web training, content strategy then becomes the preferred angle of experts: the right content, in the right place and at the right time for the right target while imagining that the impact of the presence of the brand on social networks will generate a large influx of customers who can easily be retained.
Everyone is a medium Me
At the start of the 2010s, the massification of mobile ownership was synonymous with the recognition of smartphones based on new operating systems (Android and iOS). We are reversing the content market head on: designing for mobile, aggregating data (but what to do with it?), Relearning to rewrite from A to Z and focus on user and interface design is more than ever topical. Also, YouTubesque video wins the Web with its idols inventing a format, a style and financial outlets previously difficult to imagine. The medium is Me and Me is the medium; impossible to dissociate.
In the opus, mobile referencing becomes essential. Obeying the law of video in the marketplace and seizing the opportunities of texts in images are the delight of booksellers in search of practical books.
Digital marketing takes over web writing
From 2011, the editorial and the beautiful images and stories get their revenge. First of all with the advent of content marketing via inbound marketing (“come to us dear prospects via our online writings which are specially developed for your needs”). We “track”, trace and measure. We order and organize conversion funnels where the pampered customer finds himself there to be put in confidence and buy. E-commerce understands that the presentation of the product is also manifested by texts enamored with meaning.
Now the user and customer experience prevails. It must make a difference and content marketing is expressed in books and training courses where image, notoriety, conquest and loyalty make up the perfect salad for the generation of prospects and buyers. Because the sale went through there without saying a word.
Tell me stories and talk to me
But the communication did not give up the ghost. Over the past 3 years, the “once upon a time” has been reviewed and corrected in a story style. Snapchat pioneered the concept. Instagram joined the dance, then WhatsApp and Messenger. He whispers that Twitter would soon be in the bath of the “story”. Tell, tell… This everyday “storytelling” has never been so multi-media. It goes so far as to be exported to websites like YouTube sequences that can be integrated into the heart of articles. Media brands are reinventing this genre when others are introducing soundless video, news zappings, micro-news based on headlines all the time.
The beginnings of conversational agents (or chatbots in the language of Shakespeare) seek to reintroduce the peer-to-peer relationship in the sentences exchanged or within WhatsApp and Messenger as media supports.
Brand content inexorably eats advertising through native advertising. Online advertising could therefore represent more than half of total online advertising by 2020, according to Enders Analysis. The same study estimates this market at 2.1 billion EUR, which makes the media creating their own studios salivate in the face of aging and declining communication and advertising agencies.
Books and training courses tell you all the time: you have to learn how to transform brands into media and brand content is at the heart of the communication strategy.
So, how today can we slip into the protean web text writing and not be drowned in an offer as diffuse as it is abundant of solutions, choices which are placed at the top of the pavement and which do not know an almost expiry date? immediate?
Finding the Perfect Web Writing Toolkit in 2018
Alongside renowned consultants in the online editorial genre, such as Jean-Marc Hardy, Isabelle Canivet, Muriel Vandermeulen or even Sébastien Bailly, few names are emerging in this field of expertise. However, I will retain one: Muriel Gani who offers one of the rare very successful works on the theme: “The toolbox: Writing for the Web” (Editions Dunod, 2018).
Prefaced by Elie Sloïm, a web quality reference, we recognize as the quality of Muriel Gani’s work that it responds to the plurality of the textual media approach that contributes today: from reading scenarios to specific Web formats (product sheet , FAQ, blog, newsletter, dossier …) through the happiness of writing online with style (the essential, conciseness, short sentences, variety …) or with a tactical approach to writing for social networks (Facebook, Twitter, hashtags…).
We will retain from these 57 tools presented in the form of practical sheets, the composite possibilities of the art of web writing in 2018. It is no longer a unique genre that it is about but small steps shared with sound methodological and strategic advice slipped to the hollow of the fold of the book binding.
Clever, too, this obsession for details that the author of the book operates because it is in the slightest shrewd things that the difference in an audience’s ability to read attentive online is made:
- The shorter the article title, the more it hits: 5 to 7 words ideally,
- Occupying a precious and disputed place on the home page of the site or the section, the hook of an article must be brief: 25 words maximum, often less,
- For content from a general public post, aim for an average of 12/15 words per sentence. As for the maximum limit, only exceed 20 words for rare exceptions,
- Gateway to the content, each heading must reflect the following paragraph (s) and they will be all the more easy to navigate and impactful when they are short.
- On Facebook: play with complicity and personify your messages: “we are impatient” before a significant event, “So many emotions! “After a prize won,” We love it, don’t you? “Etc. Humanize your business by showing behind the scenes, the making of, and even your adventures,
- On Twitter: call up these few basics: choose the right angle, write according to the image, play on temporal proximity, focus on the facts, put the essential first, find the right word, pace your tweets …
- To choose a good hashtag: simple to be memorized quickly, short to avoid taking up too much space, targeted but used by others to increase their chances of being spotted when it comes to a generic theme or qualifier. Restrict the use of hashtags to 1 or 2 per tweet,
- To choose emojis in a social network message: observe the uses in universes close to yours; these must be meaningful, relevant and consistent with your message; get your colleagues to react to make sure the message is understood and received.
Writing for the Web in the Future: 5 Things to Watch Out For
The next challenges of web writing to reach audiences are located on several levels like bulleted lists of good intentions that will have to be watched closely and why not tame (like the Little Prince?):
- Personalized content: using data to generate content that you view and truly adhere to. We expect a lot (too much?) From artificial intelligences on this level.
- Does voice search mean the end of traditional search engines? Are we moving towards a Web of questions to be solved by an immediate answer? Platforms dream of it, but does the consumer really want it?
- Will augmented reality really take off for new types of engaging content and renewed web writing?
- What about the juxtaposition of the popularity of the media brand, so-called influencer-commentators and online / offline media in this paradigm at a time when the boundaries of the content professions are blurring?
- And the user experience in all of this: undoubtedly, we need to focus our curiosity more on new writing formats, without ruts.
Vast construction site. See you in the next episode. Next page!
Jean-Luc Raymond is Senior Social Media Manager. He advises large companies, institutions and non-governmental organizations on their online presence strategy. It deals with professional digital trends and uses on his blog.