Years ago disgruntled from Surrey would write a letter to the editor; pedantic fool complain about spelling and punctuation; ‘expert’ in the subject pick on the minutiae in an academic paper. Same old, same old as these issues exist today, transported to electronic means of communication, but remain constant themes. The difference is in the relative speed of action and reaction, and the subsequent issues raised.
Related to this is the huge volume of messaging generated because, on the whole, it’s free. As a journalist I can easily receive 200 unsolicited emails, texts, Twitter and other messages, presentations and more. How to cope with this barrage? Let’s start with email as it’s the one most readers will be familiar with. I do not recommend blocking people. Utter indifference is the biggest insult, so simply never open or reply to them. Girls in my playground were adept at sending ones they didn’t like ‘to Coventry’; today I believe it’s called ‘blanking’ someone. Remember that Gmail offers the facility to have a ‘promotions’ folder to which you can route spam, junk, and then delete the lot in one fell swoop.
When using social media platforms, remember that every keystroke, layout, content and presentation reflects on you personally and professionally, and on your business – be it a corporation or a start-up. Therefore get into the habit of planning carefully, creating content that’s appropriate, walking away and coming back to make a very thorough edit – and only then press the send button.
At some point all of us should prepare to receive unpleasant messages – hate mail even. Again, plan ahead and think how you will deal with these. Always best not to lash out late at night – in fact I tend to stick to weekday business hours as otherwise one can seem unprofessional, disorganised or desperate. After a good 24-hour think, decide whether a reply is warranted at all; I know an editor who, based on this thinking, manages to save many hours of office time.
Length matters! Today’s attention span is close to that of a gnat. Research from blog.bufferapp.com says a Tweet should ideally be 100 characters; a Facebook post less than 40; a Google headline less than 60; a text headline should contain 6 words; a blog post around 7 minutes or 1000 words. They go into even more detail: the ideal width of a paragraph 40-55 characters and is key to reader comprehension. The appearance of simplicity is further enhanced by the height of the paragraph (roughly half its width). The use of contrasting fonts helps too, picking the lead paragraph (which should be a summary of what’s to come) out in a bolder font for clarity. MailChimp’s studies suggest subject lines of no more than 50 characters get the most open rates – always assuming the subject is of any interest at all.
Today we have to deal with video too, where background, lighting, and sound quality are as important as clothes, makeup and content. TED talk organisers found that 18 minutes is the best length and all speakers, no matter how lofty or lowly MUST comply. This is the same reason school lessons run for approximately 30 minutes (plus settling down time) to maximise attention spans.
When choosing a name for your business, Daily Blog Tips have found that it should be short, easy to remember, easy to spell, contains no hyphens or digits, end in .com, and is descriptive or brandable.
This blog is not comprehensive but is intended as a pointer for so many of us who today are working from home, setting up or running a small business, and sometimes feeling a little overwhelmed.