Hey, Let’s Talk Online Like We Do In Real Life

It’s funny how much the way we word things matters.

The other day I was browsing the Internets and came across a website via a friend’s tweet. I don’t remember the site, and that’s not the point. When I got to the page a gray box came up that said:

Make this more social.

As a Web editor I quickly understood what they were trying to tell me, but as a consumer I couldn’t help but thinking how that phrase didn’t resonate with me at all.

Wouldn’t it be more effective if they had asked:

Shouldn’t your friends be reading this?

Or some other combination of words that people in real life actually use. How often have you been sitting with your friends thinking that you should invite even more friends in this awesome conversation you’re having and you asked them, “hey! guys! how can we make this more social?”

Sure, you can say this is just semantics, but when your goal is to increase engagement or to make your site “more social” the way we word these calls to action really matters.

I think the in real life (IRL) test is the best way to check this. The next time you’re tasked with writing a call to action, imagine yourself using that exact phrase in a bar at happy hour. If you think it sounds foolish, chances are your audience will too.

  • Want someone to share your blog post? Imagine yourself sitting with a friend telling a story about the same topic. You get to the end and you tell her, “oh yea, please retweet.” No one talks like that.
  • Hoping people will subscribe to your e-newsletter? Try saying, “let’s keep in touch” instead of “subscribe to my e-newsletter.”
  • Need to spark a conversation? We would never say “please tell us in the comments” IRL, but you could say, “am I right?” or “what do you think?”

Just because something is a catch phrase in the media/marketing world, doesn’t mean it’s something that people use in actual conversation. Take the time to read your calls to action out loud and apply the IRL test. Am I right?

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About Stephanie Y.

I'm a professional news writer in Frederick, Maryland. I blog at S.Y. Ciphers.

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