Social Media For Technical Writers

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    There are now many social media avenues by which technical writers could use to provide the information required by their target audience. We have FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogging, Pinterest to just to name a few. With all these social media mediums, do we still need to provide paper documentation or should we just answer questions from users via social media channels? Social media contains user generated content. Will readers be more apt to read documentation on electronic devices than on paper? We are so tied to our mobile devices, that maybe, we should just place all our documentation online. We have the Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android, Nook, blogs, webinars, and podcasts, etc., just to name a few which can all communicate technical information electronically.

    The target audience can gain access to all the information they need quickly and when they want no matter where they are. They can perform searches quickly for specific information and send comments and ask questions when they want no matter where the SME (Subject Matter Expert) is located. SME’s can be reached via links, e.g., tweets which can be added to the end of documents and get immediate responses; especially for critical questions and situations. All these new communication lines also keep all stakeholders abreast of critical situations, new knowledge, and keeps everyone up-do-date on all the latest events.

    Even though this all sounds logical and exciting, should we do that? We still have to be aware of some drawbacks or problems. Not every type of information can be placed within social media channels, especially if it is related to confidential information. Confidential information is a huge entity. Each organization will have to decide which types of documents can be placed online for social media access, which to remain on paper format, and of course which to store/archive elsewhere. If the organization has an intranet or has been storing data within the cloud, they can set it up with privilege access only to retain confidentiality.

    As a whole, using social media is useful for technical writers. Social media would provide easier accessibility to SMEs, users, upper management and those across all levels of the organization. One of the technical writers functions is to create help content and assist in creating marketing material. All these materials add to the good credibility of the organization and its products. Social media for technical writers in this area provides a plus for consumer service and sociability. If there is a problem w/a purchase or a question, the consumers can immediately, e.g., text, or tweet customer service quickly and the customer service personnel would be able to perform the search and provide answers quickly. In turn the customers/consumers, could, e.g., re-tweet about the organization, its support and cooperation, and might even reply with new suggestions or products for the company.

    What do you think?