From Academia to Blogging on Social Media: Writing to Engage a Wider Audience Range

By Nadya Khoja, Mar 30, 2015

When it comes to writing blogs, the number one thing you need to take into consideration is: Who are you writing for? It’s easy to pump out an article here and there and push it to all of your social media pages, but if you’re not wary of your writing style, there’s a good chance you might not be reaching the type of users that are right for your brand. I’m not saying that you need to avoid flowery language or an enhanced vocabulary. All I’m suggesting is that when you write, you write in your own voice. It’s likely more natural and captivating than anything requiring extensive insight into the Oxford Dictionary. That doesn’t mean you should eliminate all form of sophistication, or that you should dumb yourself down, it just means that you should write in a style that you yourself would be willing to read.

As an individual who has spent the vast majority of her life in an academic setting, the act of writing in layman’s terms has never been something that I have considered easy to do. In high school, I was taught to write essays using the “5 paragraph” structure. I couldn’t say “I” or “you” or use conjunctions. During my undergrad, this method of writing was further re-enforced, and now as I complete my Master’s Degree, my writing mannerisms ultimately follow the recipe of academia- that’s to say my writing is pretentious, wordy, objective and highly detached. It’s not a bad thing, but I’ve pretty much had to re-learn how to write in a more colloquial tone. Apparently a lot of people just don’t care for academic writing when they are scrolling through blogs and articles on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. And I mean, I guess it makes sense. You’re not going to stumble upon an article entitled “Toward a Branded Audience: On the dialectic between Marketing and Consumer Agency”* on a site like Buzzfeed or Reddit. That article would disappear faster than Jian Ghomeshi’s job at CBC (Too soon?).

The point is, that when you’re writing a blog or an article that will be posted to social media, you’ve got to be aware of who you’re writing for. And let’s face it, the majority of people would prefer to read an article that DOES make use of conjunctions, and that addresses them as “You” rather than “One” (seriously, just re-read that previous sentence and replace the you’s with one’s). Way more pretentious, right? And according to Statistics Canada, only 6.5% of the working population received anything higher than a Bachelor’s degree in 2011, while the majority of other graduates ended their studies after receiving either a diploma or postsecondary certificate. That being said, 93.5% of the working population doesn’t even consider accessing scholarly journals as part of their daily dose of information. So what am I getting at? Well I’m saying that if you want people to actually read the content you write, you better be making it accessible to the vast majority.

Stat Can Education Level

Take the following as an example. Which of the two paragraphs below are more engaging for you?

“Modern consumers are the victims of the velocity of fashion as surely as primitive consumers are the victims of the stability of sumptuary law. From the point of view of demand, the critical difference between modern capitalist societies and those based on simpler forms of technology and labour is … that the consumption demands of persons in our own society are regulated by high turnover of criteria of appropriateness (fashion), in contrast to the less frequent shifts in more directly regulated sumptuary or customary systems.”

OR

“In today’s society, we as consumers will buy whatever products we consider to be the trendiest. Those who don’t possess the latest in technology will struggle to keep up. We live in an age that is dictated by the high-turnover rate of new products. In order to keep up with the trends, you’ve gotta be willing to buy into them.”

If you found the first paragraph to be more engaging, you’re probably among the 6.5% who has devoted their life to academia, or a 10th grade English teacher who abides by the “5 paragraph” structured essay. The fact of the matter is that the first paragraph takes way too much energy to read into. Sure you can brag to your friends about how smart you are because you know what “sumptuary law” is and they don’t, but in all honesty, that doesn’t really matter, because in the time it took you to figure out just what was being articulated in paragraph numero uno, your friends are already 4 paragraphs ahead and learning far more interesting facts than you are.

When you’re writing a blog or an article, you need to be able to present your point directly. The fluffier your language, the less likely it is that your message will stick with your reader. And even today it’s rare that people read through an entire article (if you’re one of the 19% who have made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back). It’s not because no one cares about the information. People do care, but no one has time to focus on figuring out what the message is. People just want the message. That’s what’s so great about Twitter, because you simply aren’t given the option of surpassing 140 characters. Instagram is even better, because you don’t really need to read anything. Visual methods of transmitting information are the most commonly appreciated, because everything you need to know is presented or showcased to you.

Infographics are another great way of transmitting data in an engaging way. You can tell your story without numbing the minds of your audience (provided you avoid some of the common mistakes associated with creating infographics). Why do infographics make such a great tool for the transmittance of knowledge? Because you can take a highly scholarly article, or historically dense essay, and present the information in an aesthetically captivating manner. Let’s just say that if you had the choice between reading a 10-page article on the historical evolution of visual data, or looking at a well-designed visual representation of said article, you’d probably pursue option number 2. That is, unless you don’t see the value in visual arts or free-time.

In this day in age, the vast majority of people simply don’t have the time and energy to invest themselves in reading heavy content. It’s important to learn how to present information in a way that can engage a wider range of audiences. Whether that method is blogging, vlogging, making music, or whatever other content creation you deem worthwhile, the main thing to keep in mind is figuring out what kind of content your audience relates to most. Remember, they are your users because they choose to be. If you want to keep them, you’ve got to give them what they want, and what they can understand.

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<a href="https://venngage.com/blog/from-academia-…audience-range/"><img src="https://venngage.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Academia-to-Blogging-HEADER.png" alt="From Academia to Blogging on Social Media: Writing to Engage a Wider Audience Range" /></a><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Source: <a href="https://venngage.com/blog/from-academia-…audience-range/">From Academia to Blogging on Social Media: Writing to Engage a Wider Audience Range</a>

* “Toward a Branded Audience: On the dialectic between Marketing and Consumer Agency” is an essay by Adam Arvidsson.

About Nadya Khoja

Nadya Khoja is a Visual Content and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is part of the team at Venngage, an online infographic maker. Nadya has a B.A. with Specialized Honours in Devised Theatre and a Master's Degree in Digital Media with a focus on Audience Engagement and Immersive Experiences. When she has time, Nadya directs, produces and sound designs for experimental and interactive performances.