Technical Writing and the Social Media Honeypot

The goal of this post isn’t to make money from social media — these kinds of jobs pay pennies! However, at a time where “social media phone plans” and “social media authority building” are being consumed by corporations and individuals alike, I thought I’d outline how technical communicators can leverage this fairly new technology, and make it pay off in documentation.

 

First, my reasons why technical communicators should use social media:

  • Documentation is a living organism! It’s constantly growing and changing, and what better way to get user input than through social media?
  • Documentation is often a learning tool, spanning tutorials, help files, user manuals, research papers, and many other educational materials. This is why technical writing should be interactive and customer service-oriented, providing answers to questions when required.
  • In cases where people are finding answers and aiding users on using technology in real-time, an open documentation model, like this one, is preferable: http://www.gamesradar.com/f/batman-arkham-asylum-riddler-guide/a-200908261421…

Now for a few social media “additive” suggestions for technical writing:

  • A comments section
  • A form or survey for feedback
  • The address of a social media site like Twitter where users can ask questions and give their feedback and tips on using technology to other users
  • Forums (be wary of these – if people check forums for answers on using technology, the documentation has failed! However, everybody does it and eventually technical communicators can be the ones sweeping through long discussions and writing the helpful documentation that saves users from doing so)
  • Encourage Open Source documentation, where you build the framework and are the manager and updater for new products and updates in technology
  • Build you own “mini” social media network within your company with forums, comments, and interactions between clients with a user support focus

Finally, the reason I think technical communicators make the best social media experts:

  • We are already experts with writing using coding and the newest cutting-edge technology. Surely we can master the simple HTML of blogs sites and the #, @, RTs of Twitter.

Feel free to comment if you can think of anything else to add — this list is a living organism, after all! 😉

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