How to run a business as a technical communicator

Reading through various articles in the Technical Communication Quarterly, I am finding good nuggets of information on how to run my business on social media, as a technical communicator. Of course, the information that I found can be applied to one’s personal life, but since technical communicators are hoping to make a career with their writing, I will reiterate these points below, focusing solely on the business aspects.

Keep busy with social media

According to Ferro and Zachry’s article, “Technical Communication Unbound: Knowledge Work, Social Media, and Emergent Communicative Practices,” when using social media platforms for your business, there needs to be a “real-time monitoring of texts” and that you should be “monitor[ing] the technological landscape and be ready to integrate emergent types of online services” (p 7). Customers today expect a business to respond immediately to their messages or posts online, and if they do not get that, some of them will use social media to say how horrible the company’s customer service is. Depending on the business, responding to customers can be a full-time job.

Now, from analyzing other businesses’ social media platforms, I saw how they tried out new social media platforms, which they sometimes abandoned when either the company decided that they were not getting enough traffic from it, or they did not fully understand how to use that new platform to extend their business persona. It is always a good idea to try new technologies, as you never know which one will suit your business best. Once you try a new platform, even if you abandoned it, never take it down. I would suggest putting that abandoned platform on your website as a link and naming it an archive. While the content may be old to most, for those who are just coming across it now, it will be new to them.

Stay positive and audience-centered

Always keep your postings and messages positive. This way your company seems like a happy place and people will feel good reading the posts. There is already so much negative things on social media and elsewhere that reading something positive can boost someone’s day. Additionally, when a company posts a positive post, people are more likely to respond to it, as people want to continue this positive feeling. Ferro and Zachry wrote that “contributors…are motivated by the positive feelings associated with participating in a larger community” (p 9). I have certainly noticed in my business postings that if I write something positive, I receive more likes and more comments. (And if I post a positive video clip, I receive more sales).

By staying positive in posts, you are more likely to have “good sense, good moral character, and goodwill,” which Bowdon explained in her article, “Tweeting an Ethos: Emergency Messaging, Social Media, and Teaching Technical Communication,” is what you need to do to write good posts on social media (p 35). By focusing on these ideas, it makes sense that your posts will then be audience-centered, because you want to help your audience with whatever information that you think that they actually need, instead of just your company’s self-promotion.

If you can always put your customer first, thinking about what information that they are seeking, your company will come across positively by being helpful and customer-driven. I know that this is something I will have to work on too, as several of my own business postings are of self-promotion instead of being customer-centered.

Conclusion

Technical communicators can find jobs within a company or use their skills for their own businesses to ensure that their customers are happy because of the positive message that they read, their questions and concerns are addressed promptly, and that they always find audience-centered postings with the information that they are seeking instead of just a company’s self-promotion. On any social media platform, you can provide a link to your website, so there really is no need for self-promotion anyway. Many businesses, including my own, should always evaluate their own postings periodically to make sure that their messages are coming across positive and audience-centered. Moreover, we should continue to look new ways to interact and gain new customers through new technologies, as not everyone joins the same social media platforms, so it is good for business to try them all to see what works best for them.

Posted on November 8, 2015, in Marketing, mobile, Social Media, Technology, Trust, Workplace and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have mixed emotions about trying new social media, although I think you are right about needing to do so. Part of me wants to jump out of all of it. At other times, I think I will narrow it down to one or two. (I’m not particularly active in any social media but try to do a bit.)

    For example, in Canada, we recently elected a new government. The new prime minister, introduced his cabinet using Periscope (www.periscope.tv). So, I went to check that out. I think it has so much potential as a social media. I did sign up and I’ve watched a few broadcasts, though I scarce have time to delve into it too far.

    • Aaron, I do think periscope is an intriguing new way for people to share live info. Now that I got a new iphone I might download it again!

  2. Kat, thanks for the reminder about staying positive. I think many of us, given that this is an academic exercise, focus on the rhetorical strategy and audience, but you’re right in how much being positive can make an impact.

    Your point about archiving material because “While the content may be old to most, for those who are just coming across it now, it will be new to them” made me think of a new platform I was introduced to this semester: https://slack.com/. It’s more like google chat than google docs, but the idea of things being stored there so whenever new team members come on a project they’d see all the old content and conversations around that content. Have you heard of it? Our program faculty have really taken to it and I think it’s awesome!

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