Language has certainly moved on in the last fifty years. And I don’t just mean that authors who once used better words now only use four letter words, as Cole Porter put it. We expect people to write as we speak and are increasingly attuned to a false tone. Even so, modern forms of communication like websites or Twitter, when used by artists, journalists or advertisers, can touch the user, just as much as Shakespeare, Dickens or P.T. Barnum once did. Writing in the style of the reader is only the starting point. The rhythms of the language and the choice of words still separate the best from the rest.
Getting the words right is important to successful advertising. Your Life Your Style’s shop business is growing steadily, maybe 10% a year, but our online business is mushrooming. Last month we saw a 166% increase on the previous year. A great deal of our internet success comes from writing copy that connects with the reader and helps them understand why they might need to buy our products. Doing this on Twitter (@yourlifeshop) with its 140 letters restriction (think news headlines) is different from Facebook (think gossip) and different again from an tiny advert on Google (think market trader).
More than this, the same people need a different approach in different contexts. The same person will have a public and private persona- and the private persona will be different with one’s friends to one’s significant other. I run pages for Steiff and Dora Designs collectors. These could be hard nosed professionals in their jobs but at home they are usually gentle, fun people very much in touch with the child within themselves. The enthusiastic open language on those pages is different to the professional approach required on, say, these pages aimed at serious marketers and retailers.
Even writing at length on a website or blog requires a brevity and informality in tune with modern times. I’ve been told by one of my severest critics (my wife) that these blogs are too formally written. But, y’know, that’s me, innit?