We all make mistakes. But some of those mistakes can hurt your online business and your reputation. Here are four common mistakes to avoid at all costs.
(What NOT To Do Online)
1. Not Giving Your Readers Options
If you’re going to create truly shareable media, you’ll need to provide a mixture of elements. People not only have different personalities, they have different learning styles.
Some may prefer to read or skim material and you can put out the welcome mat for these types by using bullet points, lists, subheadings, and call-out boxes. Others may prefer to listen to your message, and podcasts are an excellent medium for audio learners. (But don’t forget to provide a transcript, as well.)
If pictures tell the story better than a thousand words, using a dozen images in your content will attract visual learners and those who struggle with reading. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people have some form of dyslexia. These people don’t “see letters backwards” but information they read is handled differently by their brains and requires much more working memory and energy to process. It’s a bit like reading an article in Portugese when your native language is English. If the brain was an airport terminal, and information was baggage, the dyslexic airport (brain) would have to ship all baggage (written information) through a separate set of conveyors before it arrives at its intended destination. Make it easier for them by sorting information into categories and calling out important points for easier retrieval.
2. Putting the Good Stuff on the Highest Shelf
Making your readers work to obtain the good information is fine for college professors, but it’s not good practice for marketers and businesses. Putting the cookie jar full of valuable tips way up on the top shelf where it’s out of reach of most just isn’t smart online. You want people to find value in your content, and making it easy for them to recognize that value helps you and them.
Eliminate all those ten dollar words and aim for a teenage or lower reading level. Shorten your sentences and your paragraphs. Unless your company is an editing firm or college, your goal probably shouldn’t be to educate the world on proper grammar and usage. Nor should you assume your audience has the same educational level as you. They may have ten degrees to your one, or have an eighth grade education- the goal is to write so all can understand and utilize your information.
3. Not Paying Attention to Details
This can be especially hard for some people, but paying attention to details is essential in business. Why? Because others who regularly pay attention to details will notice all those inconsistencies in how you capitalize or spell your products and when you contradict a previous statement. If you struggle in this area, hire someone to proof all you online postings before they go live. If you’re representing your business, you want that representation to be impeccable.
4. Failing to Grow Thick Skin
Let’s be honest, working online can be brutal. Everyone with a screen believes they have a captive audience and a soapbox and most won’t hesitate to unleash and unload with little or no provocation. I’m not just talking about the trolls, either. Even well-mannered folks who’ve had a bad day or who failed to read a post thoroughly can turn into a nightmare commentator. We’ve all seen a comment thread go south and turn into personal insults and tangents that are more appropriate for booze-fueled debates among friends.
If you’re going to participate, you’ll need to pull up your Big Girl (or Big Boy) panties and grow some thick skin. You’ll also need to practice restraint and forgiveness, which isn’t always easy. Working in social media, marketing, and online business isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort.
What mistakes do you see people making online? What mistakes have you learned from in the past that might help others?