How to Engage the Readers of Technical Documentation

How to Engage the Readers of Technical Documentation

Making the technical documentation live and interactive via social media tools engages the customers and readers. Engaged customers are sure to buy more.

Technical documentation can be called as a product’s asset. Customers refer to the technical documents when they need any clarifications or solutions. One of the best ways for organizations to achieve “customer delight” is to engage the customers who read the documentation in the greatest way possible. Well, how the technical writers of a company can engage their readers in the documentation?

While a customer is looking to find an answer in the documentation, he feels the best if he is able to interact with the technical writer who authored that document. He also feels happy if some other customer who got that same issue resolved sometime before could help him out. A company should get the customer interaction right the first time so that the customer hardly gets any chance to spread something negative about the company on a social network.

With good social media interactions, a company can influence what customers and the general public feel about its products. Watching the customers speak about their products help companies to get a better insight into what exactly people expect from their products and how do they use the products.

How to Engage the Readers of a Technical Document

When the readers of the documentation are well engaged, they feel satisfied with the product, and hence they are likely to buy more.

We suggest the following tips that when implemented in a technical document can make the readers feel engaged.

  1. Allow the readers to comment on the documentation pages.
  2. Provide the readers with forms to receive their valuable feedback.
  3. Encourage customers to tweet tips and tricks, and publish the twitter stream in the document.
  4. Tweet release notes.
  5. Provide external links to the blogs of technical writers, customers and community developers.

While interacting with the customers, a technical writer comes to know whether there is any topic in the document that the readers find difficult to understand. This helps the author to rewrite those topics in a lucid way. Also, when there is any error in the document, a customer can point it out in his comment so that the writer could fix it instantly.

Integrating Social Media into Technical Documentation

By integrating social media into the technical documentation, technical writers can engage their readers extremely well. This can be achieved by employing tools such as Wiki, Twitter and online form builder software.

With wiki, one can edit and save a webpage in his own browser. The wiki tools allow a technical writer to perform the three vital tasks involved in the documentation development process — drafting, reviewing, and publishing. One creates a wiki page with restricted permissions. He adds content to the page and allows a certain group of people to comment on the content. The reviewers can also be allowed to edit the content directly. Once the writer responds to the comments and the reviewers also approve the content, then the comments are deleted, restricted permissions are revoked, and the content is published online.

Twitter is believed to be one of the most powerful social media tools the web world has ever seen. Why doesn’t a technical writer can make use of Twitter to establish healthy relationships with the documentation readers? Writers can encourage readers to post tips via twitter, and the twitter stream can be embedded in the documentation page. Tweets on the key points of the release notes with links to the actual release notes bring more “customer interest” in the documentation. Engaging customers in the documentation indirectly means engaging them in the product itself. As already said, engaged customers buy more.

The impact of social media on technical documentation is growing immense. The technical writers of today have turned to be more interactive, rather than purely publication oriented. With a wide range of social media tools and authoring tools available to author, manage, protect and spice up the technical content, there is a lot of scope for the technical documentation to attract and build a huge customer base, as help documents are the first point of entry into the online presence of a product.

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