Assume your website readers are smiling

Your website’s readers pose a real problem for you. Even though you might know their needs and interests well, even though you may have done loads of market research and analytics, the fact remains you cannot see them. And that means you cannot judge their response to what you are saying in your blog posts and articles.

Imagine your website readers are smiling so that your blog becomes more engaging

Imagine your website readers are smiling so that your blog becomes more engaging

New research from Amsterdam suggests this could have important implications for the style of writing you adopt online. It seems that when we are face-to-face with someone who is smiling we use more descriptive and interpretive language. When we are talking to someone with more negative facial expressions we become factual and rather boring. Furthermore, the language we choose seems to be based entirely on the facial expressions of our audience – it is not affected by our own mood.

What we also know is that stories and more descriptive language is more “connective”; people engage more with this kind of language and story tellers can be inspiring leaders. Online, though, we cannot see the reaction of our readers. Hence you will find that much material on web pages is factual – and frankly – boring.

That’s probably because our lack of non-verbal feedback from our audience makes us assume they are straight-faced, with no real facial expression one way or the other. In turn, this probably means our language becomes less expressive and rather straight itself. Indeed, it is a common problem with all business communication.

For some unknown reason, business language is stilted and factual, rather than descriptive and expressive. When you peek inside many boardrooms, you find lots of people not smiling, but rather expression-less, fearing that any show of emotion would be some indication of weakness. Of course, look at successful business people, like Richard Branson or Theo Paphitis and you find them smiling all the time. And when people smile, we tend to smile back. The result is the language of these business leaders is not business-like – both of them use expressive, descriptive language. And that’s partly because their audiences are smiling back at them, this new research suggests.

If your website is full of factual, straight and non-descriptive language you will not be behaving like these successful individuals. Your website will be just like all the rest – trying to be business-like and failing to connect as a result.

To really connect with your audience you need description, stories and expressive, emotive language. And this new Dutch study points to the fact that you only do that when the people you are talking to are smiling. Because you can’t see your online audience, there is only one way out of this – assume your readers are smiling.

Indeed, the best advice I was ever given when starting my writing career, was “get a picture of one individual in your mind and write for that single person”. If you do that you can see them smiling and in turn your language will boost your website. When I wrote this for you, I knew you were smiling all the way through. Thanks.

Like this article?

Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on email
Share via email

Other posts that might be of interest

Internet Psychology

Is your brain back to front?

British businesses will spend this weekend on tenterhooks as they wait for Monday’s announcement from the Government about the ending of lockdowns. For the past couple of weeks, the mutterings from 10 Downing Street suggest

Read More »
Internet Psychology

Can you do boring tasks?

Last week, not far from the M25 in Buckinghamshire, the biggest-ever boring machine in the UK started its slow churn through the Chiltern hills to dig a tunnel for the HS2 rail system. It will

Read More »
Fence painting
Online Business

When did you last paint your garden fence?

If you are a “big change” business, then you are like my garden fence. Leaving it unpainted for so long has created much more work, at a higher cost, than if it had been tended to every year. Ignoring reviews of your online activity for long periods also means you make more work for yourself and raise your costs.

Read More »