There is no question that social media tools and platforms shape the way people, schools and businesses work, but social media has created a new form and route to channel information. In this new information age, for all its high-tech gadgetry, success is writing based.

Yet, there have been raised concerns over the fundamentals and quality of writing today. In the heart of the digital age, the concept of writing, especially to young adults, seems flat-out antiquated. Having grown up with laptops and iPads, many of them struggle to remember the last time they sat down with pen and paper; the last time “they wrote” in a traditional sense of the word.

This raises concern about the impact of social media on tradition and valued literacies, and I would love to get your take on this. As a social media advocate and educator, I commonly field questions like these from concerned teachers, parents, and community members:

  • Does all this blogging, tweeting, and texting make us poor writers?
  • What is good writing? Where are the models and mentors?
  • Have we lost the simplicity and value of written correspondence?
  • Does writing well even matter anymore?
Little Pencil free creative commons

Image by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr

If you read the popular press, you are led to believe that the digital landscape and more specifically social media is killing the way we write, killing language as we know it. I see things differently, and I suspect you do too.

The skills that make us better explainers, better persuaders, better story tellers, and better thinkers are all fundamentally influenced by writing. These are the skills that allow us to sell our ideas effectively, whether in giving a presentation to potential client, proposing a new project, or convincing customers of the benefit of our newly created product.

Good writing is more important than ever.

Sadly, most of our schools don’t teach the rules of writing according to the web and the world. We teach writing as a series of exercises that can be mastered and completed rather than an act of communication and self reflection. Even in the blogosphere, very little is offered to improve our writing skills. There’s a lot of talk about SEO, social media strategy, tactics that promise an increase in traffic and readership, but little is associated with the practice and process of writing well.

Only so much progress can be made with social media tactics and strategies. Your words, are your power; the stories you tell and how you tell them will define your place and space in the digital world.

I am encouraging you to give writing the time and attention it needs and make writing well a part of your social media strategy. What we must develop within our selves and our culture are the habits of writing, and the critical faculties necessary to improve upon our work. Writing well isn’t a matter of having the right content or product. Writing is something you live. In the lingo of the field, it’s a process.

I leave you with this video as both insight and inspiration; as a reminder of a time in your life when writing well mattered most. Enjoy and Happy Writing!

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About Angela Maiers

Angela Maiers

Angela is an active blogger, social media evangelist , and passionate advocate for bridging the gap between business and education. She is a recognized educational leader, trainer, and author. She is the owner and Chief Learning Officer at Maiers Educational Services, a company emphasizing the creative use of technology and social media to advance learning; in and out of the classroom.

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.kooldesignmaker.com custom logo design

    you can become good writer untill you develop your habit to read things. because this gives you new ideas how to write and compete others.
    I have been hearing since my childhood that Book is the Best companion of a man. so when you have to write this sentence sound so good and professional. When you are younger always write a diary to develop your writing skills because it tells how to shape your ideas and put on papers.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Absolutely! Earnest Hemingway when he was asked about the secret to his writing well, responded – Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina, Anna Karenina. Great point!

  • http://moderncopystudio.com Vince

    I agree that quality writing is more important than ever. It’s hard to pin poor quality writing on one thing but I have heard from educators that writing skills seem to be diminishing in students. Writing frequently is very valuable but does not diminish the need for instruction.

    Some people believe that education is always getting worse and technology is bad. I choose to embrace both and use technology as a way to place a greater value on writing. It’s hard to say if character limits encourage writing in sound bites without substance or encourage cutting the fat and teaching tight, concise sentence structures.

    Like most issues, there is probably no “right” answer. For me, the current technological landscape has encouraged me to write more than I would have otherwise.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Vince,

      You are spot on. Writing practice is important, but coaching is critical. I completely agree with you that social media is a catalyst to improve writing if we chose to embrace that perspective. Unfortunately, that is not the side of social media we share with our children. We keep reinforcing the story that Google makes us dumber and tweets create bad spellers. This is not only erroneous, it is dangerous.

      Our children are growing up thinking that only a “five paragraph essay” and fifty page research papers are legitimate writing. The world is being changed in 140 characters. We need to tell a new story of web and the power of writing to fuel it’s possibilities.

      Thank you for weighing in on this critical issue.

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  • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

    I have been thinking about this myself. The more I blog, the more I realize that in a world crowded with content, good writing that flows well, makes a point and provides information that “sticks” is the key to that universal call to all marketers to “provide good content.” I’ve revised my Google reader to include blogs that focus on teaching writing. I’m going back to reread books like Bird By Bird and other books about writing.

    • http://insightsandingenuity.com heatherrast

      Ilana, your comment strikes a chord. I began writing at the age of 5, encouraged by my grandmother (a teacher) and fueled by an active imagination triggered by the antics of Amelia Bedelia. I love writing and studied it in school; even now, 3 years into writing a blog my husband still struggles to comprehend why I need the outlet. But it seems the more I write, the more I read (yes, I’m a word nerd through and through), the more I realize how deep the well is. I still have so very much to learn, from the mechanics to the purpose-driven craft – and your comment is one I dared not make before now. Why is it I can easily profess to the need to continually develop business or SEO skills, while secreting writing education resources and training away? Good writing, whether for business or creative purposes, is commonly discounted as something we should just be good at (perhaps because we use words to speak?), and writing training might shine less bright than, say, more technical training. Such a shame, and as Angela suggests, one that will soon shed its stigma.

      • http://twitter.com/Ilana221 Ilana Rabinowitz

        Heather, there really is something so satisfying about putting words together in a way that moves people in some way. I also wanted to write since I was very young. The greatest thrill I had as an elementary school student was having a poem I wrote about my dentist published in the school paper. The fact that we both rediscovered the pleasure of the written word as a result of a digital format tells me that there are many more people like us. Anyone who is communicating online is not going to enjoy it or have staying power unless they hone their craft. The immediate feedback of digital communication, through traffic, comments, clicks and likes helps guide the process.

      • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

        I agree, Heather. What a fantastic idea to flood our readers with examples of great writing and writers. You bring up another powerful point. The more I write, the more I want to read. Because of blogging, I not only write better; I read, listen, and interact more intently.

        Literacy is and should be a purpose driven craft. Thanks so much for sharing your writing story!

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Ilana,

      That is great advice for all. It is tempting to flood our information stream with content that we value, but we need to balance that with writing styles,forms, and writers that we want to emulate. I am going to get on that ASAP.

      Ann Lamont is one of my favorites. I have so many pages book marked in that book, it is crazy! Bird by Bird is a must read for all!

  • http://www.examfear.com Gmat1984

    Very nice…
    Thanks for it.

  • http://twitter.com/markivey mark ivey

    Angela- thanks for raising this issues, and congrats for all the work you’re doing with the school kids. Education is where it all starts. While social media has injected new energy into publishing and led to an explosion in creativity and personal expression, it may have also helped fuel a deterioration in writing over the last decade or so. Good writing often takes a back seat to speed in the blogosphere, and of course we have the “texting” effect on kids-writing in tiny bursts. We’d be doing ourselves a favor if we’d revisit this issue, dust off the rules (remember books like “On Writing Well”?) and work on polishing our writing across the board. Currently with everyone chattering, we’re creating a sort of Tower of Babel. Think about what people will say a century from now about 2011 correspondence (“…they sure had a lot to say.”) I’m sure we can do better, and again, educational efforts (classes, training, etc starting at an early age through college) is critical.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      That means a lot coming from you Mark. The Tower of Babel is a great way to think about this seismic shift happening as a result of social media. The core attribute of great blogs, great tweets, and ultimately great social media movements is powerful message. Teaching writing well is imperative in school and out. Thanks so much for your perspective.

  • http://www.thefourthrevolution.org Jeremie Averous

    Hi Angela
    Thanks for this thoughtful post. While I agree that writing still has a great future in our new world of interactive communication, beyond the Fourth Revolution, I do believe that it is just one way to share information. It needs to be supplemented by voice, video, live events… to create the right emotional connections.
    Still, writing to prepare all these events is still needed. It allows to put one’s ideas in order. What’s important is to think about how to present one’s idea in the best and compelling way, work out the message so that it is clear and striking. Here I do concur with you that teaching about writing needs to be seriously improved so that our children learn how to write the most direct, touching and effective texts. And the best titles for Google SEO too!

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      I love that, Jeremie…Writing as the Forth Revolution! I absolutely agree, those who can communicate powerful messages across these dynamic mediums and platforms can “rule” the world!

  • Anonymous

    Inspired by Stephen King and James Herbert as a teenager, I have always harbored the dream of writing a book but my writing was never good enough. That jump from writing little to completing a whole novel seemed enormous. But Social Media has opened a whole realm of possibilities that I had never seen before.

    The demands of writing a Tweet or Facebook status are much less than that of a book or short story. Yet this eased me into blogging. Now, over the last few years, my writing has improved greatly. I am blogging more regularly and have gained the confidence to write about a much wider array of subjects.

    Social Media, rather than leading to poor writing, has opened up an opportunity to write for many that would have otherwise been suppressed.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      I agree, Seane.

      Social media is a game changer as it provides opportunity for the writer in all of us to shine. Blogging and tweeting have changed my skill and power as a writer challenging me to explore new forms and mediums of communication.

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  • http://adsenseactive.com/ web marketing

    I like the honesty in your post.

  • Andrew @ Blogging Guide

    Thanks for the share Angela. Really worth checking this one out. Having a quality writing really takes advantage in business. Enjoyed the read. Keep it up.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Thanks Andrew. That means so much. As an educator, I can say this to fellow educators, but coming from your perspective the advice will have an additional impact.

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  • Ozio Media

    Writing well is a basic fundamental that all school aged children should be taught and something they should carry with them into their careers. The writing concepts children are being taught in school can be utilized when it comes to social media, internet marketing, blogging, etc. Something that is well written has a purpose and is written with basic writing concepts such as no spelling and grammatical errors and so on. As we shift into the digital era, it might be a good idea to revisit how children are being taught to write and update the course of action.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Thanks so much for that feedback. This is critical information to share with educators preparing students for the world of work. Writing often gets overshadowed with reading instruction. This will be helpful to take back to the community.

  • http://myibusinessguru.com business online

    This is very important so you have a better edge for your business.

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Thank you. I completely agree.

  • Larry Neilson

    Angela, I have an insurance marketing blog and also develop websites for insurance agents. We struggle with the same thing. Do we write conversationally, or in a more formal manner? Should we write website copy for SEO purposes, make sure the copy is grammatically correct, or walk the fine line of accomplishing both. On my blog I vacillate between the two and on our websites we walk the fine line. Thanks for your comments. I am interested to read other comments on the subject

    • http://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers Angela Maiers

      Larry,

      You bring up such a relevant point. Writers should always write with the reader in mind, honoring their needs, and yet at the same time be clear and confident about their points and goals. I do not think it is an either or; SEO vs. Powerful Message. The challenge is in finding the balance. The dialogue here has gotten me to consider multiple perspectives, and I so appreciate the comments from every business and field.

      Social Media Explorer is all about the “exploration”, and I am so thrilled to keep digging into this important topic with you all. Thanks so much for your input.

  • http://ClerestoryLearningBlog Kevin D. Washburn

    I completely agree with your insights. I think, as educators, we need to recognize that learning to write well is not for the pursuit of “the great American novel,” and not even just for communication capacity. Research shows writing to be an effective means of learning, and a gateway to improving thinking. Unfortunately, as you state, we often teach something other than writing. Grammar≠writing; punctuation≠writing; and diagramming sentences≠writing. They may all contribute, but without taking students to a point where they recognize how to use these tools as a means to write well, we completely miss their value. We especially need to teach students how to revise their writing, and engage them in more revising and less drafting that goes straight to publishing. Even blogging requires good (i.e., revised) writing. This challenge results, in part, from the poor writing instruction many of us received as students. In this critical area, our needs are great!

  • http://www.online-business-virtual-assistant.com/ Virtual office assistant

    There is always value for good contents and writers who maintain it get good credits. Social media i feel is a tool where we can get connected with good writers and in any way it will not affect the art of good writing.

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  • http://www.stephendill.com Stephen Dill

    Angela,

    In preparing a blog post about the challenge of writing well I came across this post of yours. And while I could not cite it directly, given the nature of the focus of my post

  • http://www.printingfairy.com/printing/products/pocket-folders/ pocket folders

    Attraction and freshness is the key of success in content field especially in social media because if your content is latest and have attraction you can attract readers and boos your website’s traffic.

  • Megan Shannon

    I couldn’t agree with you more on this! I also feel that my own writing improves every time I read something new or write a fresh post, article, etc. I feel that we’re given many chances to make our writing the best it can be but we don’t always put those chances into action which is crucial to writing success.

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  • http://www.cloudstaff.com/ Thelma Case

    Thanks for sharing this post on how to effectively write for social media. It is very helpful. Cheers!