Hype vs. Truth

| January 14, 2013

By Chris Miller
Chris Miller Digital

SHAKER HEIGHTS — Here’s why it’s very important for you to communicate in a scrupulously honest manner online.

Today, there’s plenty of trustworthy online info at your fingertips. There’s also plenty of misinformation, and a Google search may not help you sort it out. A decade ago, when the internet was a wilder and woolier place than it is now, all sorts of crap masqueraded as truth. “I know it’s true; I read it on the internet!” was a sarcastic joke you’d commonly hear at the time.

For anyone old enough to tell truth from fiction when the internet first really got hot, there is still a stigma about online information. It’s automatically suspect. What you say online (especially on your site) needs not only be true; you also need to present it in a way that convinces your fans that you are telling the truth.

On the air, we like to add sizzle and excitement to what we promote, so we write promos and liners in call-to-action language and we gloss over important detail points. That’s fine on the air. When I was a PD, I would not have accepted a promo that was just a laundry list of rules for a particular promotion.

When you go online with that info, your tone needs to change:

• Your fans are going to your site for more helpful information, not more glossy generalities.
• Putting content in print is just plain different from putting it on the air.
• Adults have their internal BS detectors set on “high” when it comes to online information.

Meanwhile, I still see plenty of radio stations copy and paste promo copy to their website and call it good.

You don’t need to write a lot to be honest and truthful. If you want a plan to have usable, readable, factual web pages, here’s what you do for each topic you present:

One compelling, exciting opening sentence is OK!

• The rest can be bullet points.
• Those bullet points are brief and factual.
• Those bullet points offer helpful information.
• Links to more info makes you look more honest.
• Strive to write 100 words or fewer.

There, that took me 42 words to explain. The less you write, the more people will read. The more organized it is, the more honest you appear. When you’re helpful instead of hype-ful, your fans are more likely to come back and use your site again.

One final thought: even if your website is full of helpful information, let’s drop the on-air cliché where we send our listeners online “for more details.” Is there a worse call-to-action than “go add some more details to your life?”
tbugk
Chris Miller, owner of Chris Miller Digital, is a leading radio consultant specializing in research-based strategic planning and smart use of digital media. He can be phoned at 216-236-3955 or e-mailed at chris@chrismillerdigital.com.

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Category: Digital