RE: Tech Writing for Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Subject: RE: Tech Writing for Social Networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
From: "Lippincott, Richard" <RLippincott -at- as-e -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 May 2009 13:59:59 -0400

Patricia Blount asked:

>[H]ow can tech

>writers exploit today's social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook,

>maybe You Tube, chat rooms) to deliver product instruction, if at all?

Some easy applications do come to mind.

Twitter: If it is critical for your audience to know when documentation
has been updated, you can use Twitter as a quick-and-dirty alert system.
This could be particularly useful if your audience includes field
service teams or other individuals who are on the road. In 140
characters you can provide a notice that docs have been updated, and a
compressed URL linking to a download site. Because Twitter relies on the
telecom cellular standards for SMS, followers of your doc update Twitter
feed would receive the tweets on cell phones. (Not everybody carries a

An additional Twitter application that you can do -now- is to do
searches for your company name, or product names. See anyone
complaining? Contact them and get further info.

YouTube: Got a procedure that's best explained in a video production,
but your audience needs paper docs? Post the video on YouTube, and
reference in the printed manual that the video is available. (This gets
a little tricky with the risk of outdated links, but it can be managed.)

Facebook (FB): This one is a little trickier. You could set up a group
page for the product and docs, but there are two problems. The first is
that viewing FB pages is limited to FB members. The second is that even
if your users are members, they still need to join the FB group. There
may not be a lot of excitement about that. On the other hand, if you can
solve those problems then FB provides a forum for group discussions and
news announcements.

Rick Lippincott
Technical Writer
American Science & Engineering
829 Middlesex Turnpike
Billerica, MA 01821-3907
978-262-8807 (direct)
978-495-2335 (mobile)
978-262-8702 (fax)

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