The communication triangle connects us.
I wrote a letter to my wife once listing 100 reasons why I loved her, and I had my audience pegged. Sweet, right? I had known her for eight years by then, and I knew the buttons to pound.
I succeeded marvelously. This was not a farse, toying with her emotions, because I meant every word on the pages. The letter is an example of a message targeted to a specific reader by a caring writer. My kids get a big kick out of it now.
My favorite item, looking back 10 years now, is "98. You apologize to pillow when you are mean to him." Let me just say that I have an unusual attachment to my pillow, though not severe enough to put me on a reality show.
The statement exemplifies a moment of intimate connection between reader and writer, with a unique message: powerfully silly. The communication was effective.
The problem when you turn to blogging is that you lack intimacy. Far from writing to your wife, you are writing to strangers oftentimes. You write daily or weekly, but how often do you really know the person you are communicating with? Not only are you unfamiliar with the people you write to, but even worse: sometimes you don't even think about it.
The problem is obvious. How do you persuade and engage an audience you are unfamiliar with? The image demonstrates the complex interaction between the writer, reader, topic, and context.
The two most significant elements are writer and reader, a person you don't know and who does not know you. As a writer you must be a mind-reader to understand what your audience's values, beliefs, and interests. The context surrounds the entire frame, and influences every word. Change any element in the diagram, and you change the written message.
How do you enter such a complex communication environment?
You have to learn as much as you can about the group that you write to, filling in the gaps with your charasma and powerful prose. This is a difficult proposition to take on, but one thing that will help is to take on the role of journalist investigating your audience (no stalking necessary).
In other words you investigate your audience using journalistic questions and other strategies. Here's an activity you might try with your target audience. Google Analytics can provide a surprising amount of information on these questions. Also, pay close attention to comments, emails, and social media:
A lot of investigative and guessing work, I know. However, I guarantee that you will be in a better position to connect intimately with your audience if you force yourself through these questions. Of course it will be nothing like the experience with my wife, but as you make friends of your visitors, you will find a growing, close relationship.
Try one more exercise with me. I know you didn't expect to work here, but the process will give you a keen insight.
What did you notice in writing the three different emails? What did you notice about your tone and choice of words? Did the details you included change? Did the way you characterized events change?
If all went according to plan, you should have written three distinct emails because we changed one of the elements of the triangle. We simply changed the reader which changed the context and your view toward the topic. The writing result was completely different.
Now, as you write your blog posts, remember that you are doing the same thing. You are changing your tone and writing to direct it toward the group of readers you know a little better now, but not to your best friend or the President.
I hope these methods help because if you can connect with those readers, your writing will succeed. Let me know how your writing exercises turned out.
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Before you go, did you find this exercise useful? Please share your ideas with us.
By Darin L. Hammond
Writer for ZipMinis and owns ZipMinis Freelance Writing.
Darin Publishes across the web on sites like Technorati
BC Blog, and Social Media Today.