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Coveting and Cultivating Your Mobile Audience Part One: Writing for Tiny Screens

Coveting and Cultivating Your Mobile Audience Part One: Writing for Tiny Screens

Media companies around the world are discovering that after launching mobile-specific versions of news websites, a healthy percentage of their mobile users are under 30 years of age. Younger readers, often with more disposable income than their elders, represent a powerful new demographic channel for advertisers and audiences alike.

So, with these younger, upperwardly-mobile mobile users in mind, here are some tips for writing most effectively for this cherished audience segment.

First things first. Good writing is good writing. Period. Writing for mobile is akin to developing software in the days of severely limited programmable memory and available disk space. The focus must be on tight editing and efficiency. There’s no space to waste. With this basic premise in mind, here are five mobile writing rules for your consideration:

1.  Provide maximum information with minimum words.
Make every word count. Cut out the fluff and get to the point. Use short, tight sentences and remove every superfluous word.

2.  Create attention-grabbing titles.  
Mobile audiences are, by definition, on-the-go audiences. You only have a second or two to catch their interest on their little screens. So, your headlines should be as tight and efficient as your text. Keep your titles brief, relevant and descriptive. Avoid jargon. And, aim for a length of 65-70 characters max to avoid truncation.

3.  Focus on strong introductions and compelling summaries.
Mobile audiences have no time for introductions that dance around a topic. So, just get to it. Don’t worry about “setting the stage” in your introduction. You’ve created an attention-grabbing title, now craft a punchy and engaging summary that compels the reader forward.

4.  Use the medium to benefit your message.
Some mobile devices – especially smartphones and tablets – are optimized for images. Take advantage of these visual capabilities by using graphics and images to complement your writing. One recent study on Twitter found that tweets with visuals received over 150 more retweets than those without visuals. Similarly, posts on StumbleUpon that included visuals got dramatically more shares than text-only posts.

5.  Lists and links are the lifelines of an effective mobile story.
Mobile readers love lists. Ordered or unordered lists; it doesn’t matter. Lists are succinct and easy to read. They clearly show the reader where one point ends and another begins. This makes them ideal for scanning or browsing. Many people scan before they read anyway, and this is especially true among mobile users, who quickly try to determine whether it’s worth reading the entire article. Recent surveys have also shown that mobile users are inherently suspicious readers. They will question an author’s credibility if any embedded links do not relate to the topic. So, make sure that any and all links are highly relevant, and that they actually work.

Well, I have already exceeded the recommended 500-word rule for effective blogging. So, I will close here by letting you know that our next “Coveting and Cultivating Your Mobile Audience” blog posting will focus on mobile advertising tips and tricks.

In the meantime, if you have any additional suggestions on how to write and edit most effectively for mobile devices, we would love to hear from you.

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