Communicate Credibility When Writing for Your Business Online

By Natalie Canavor

Part of Business Writing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When you write to people you don’t know, they naturally judge you by the quality of your writing. If you use the Internet to promote yourself or a business, the way you use the media must convey that you’re authoritative, knowledgeable, trustworthy, reliable, responsive, and open to input. Your audience will look for clues to your credibility.

Don’t overlook that readers also want to feel you are “nice.” Do you choose to connect with, or hire, people who are blatantly discourteous or critical or use questionable humor? Nor do you choose to engage with people who focus only on their interests and are not attuned to our needs.

Here are specific tips for establishing trust and communicating that you’re the kind of person others want to do business with:

  • Write your best, and meticulously edit and proofread.
  • Deliver everything you promise — or better, over deliver.
  • Include only verified information and keep links updated.
  • Use technical language sparingly and only as audience-appropriate.
  • Maintain a positive, upbeat tone.
  • Provide clear, easily found contact information, and briefly identify your credentials.
  • Invite input in specific ways and respond to it.

And never:

  • Criticize anyone on a personal level.
  • Conduct personal arguments online.
  • Reveal anything about yourself you don’t want the world to know.
  • Use offensive language or tone.
  • Use Internet venues for blatant self-promotion unless it’s clearly appropriate to the specific medium. A website, for example, can and should include product information and a purchasing pathway. A Facebook business page can focus on a business. But promotional material is not what readers look for in blogs, tweets, and most social media.

Above all, project a generous spirit in everything you post, from website to blog to tweet. The online world is an incredible resource of good information and ideas. Whatever your line of work, sharing the best of what you know will draw people to you like nothing else can.