This interview with Jacob Weisberg, former editor of Slate, rocked my socks in a huge way.
Weisberg nails it when talking about writing online, and the difference in audience expectation:
DIA: Do you feel people write differently for the web than they do for print?
Mr Weisberg: If they don’t, they don’t succeed online. Writing that’s native to the web is different in ways that are crucial but subtle enough that you can miss them if you conceive of your audience as reading a printed product. The tone of good web writing grows out of email. It’s more direct, personal, colloquial, urgent, witty, efficient. It doesn’t waste your time. It reflects that engagement, responsiveness and haste of web surfers, as opposed to the more general passivity of print readers. It integrates the use of links into the creative and intellectual process as opposed to tacking them on afterwards. And it uses multimedia in an organic rather than an ornamental way.
I think his comments are applicable to those writers who are told “You have to have a blog” as a marketing tool. You don’t. You absolutely do not have to have a blog. In fact, if you don’t want one, it’ll show. Writing for print and writing online are two very different things, and the difference can alienate the audience.
Weisberg also made me call for the smelling salts with this comment:
DIA: Who are Slate’s main competitors and what have you learned from them?
Weisberg: Competition on the internet is different—it’s win-win, because we all link to each other and people are spending more time online. We’re still at a stage where the web as a whole can all gain at the expense of other forms of media.
In other words: rising tides float all boats. Ahoy there, folks. That’s how it works on the internet. This was the point of my remarks at the very abbreviated by fire drill session at RWA on Digital Marketing:
Romance needs to get horizontal. Pun totally intended.
Vertical marketing online, wherein you detract from one person to elevate yourself, is not going to sustain itself as a model when everyone is hurting financially. The horizontal model of collaborative marketing works FAR better to raise interest from jaded readers (hi there!) and from people online who are accustomed to and that shared community of awareness, and not the hard sell technique.