We see the digital world through an Instagram filter; it’s like a real-life version of The Sims where we shape and create our individual realities and display them for the world to see, and, in turn, we watch other people’s carefully controlled versions of their lives unfold around our own. Negotiating the web is like picking your way through a minefield of sponsored links, clickbait and false identities and we are quickly becoming savvy to what is real and what is a scam. The digital landscape changes so quickly it’s easy to get swept along with it, but if you’re writing content for the web it’s important to stay grounded and anchored to reality. Audiences are fast becoming wise to quick-fix advertising online. The difference between catching the attention of your audience and keeping it depends entirely on a genuine voice, good, compelling content and honesty. In a throwaway culture where so much is disposable or replaceable it’s easy to think that making one quick sale, grabbing a one-off reader is enough, but to build a strong, reliable digital audience, you have to make them want to engage with your online presence and, more importantly, to keep them coming back again and again. I have seen clever Twitter accounts that use generic platitudes and One Direction photographs to lure in teenage followers looking for retweetable content. These accounts generate random inanities and then try to exploit their followers by infiltrating their feed with adverts for diet pills, surgery or beauty products. It is unscrupulous and it is temporary; a scatter gun approach to sales and a lazy audience development technique. Truly strong audience development lies in a real relationship with the people you want to connect with. People will engage with what appeals to them, they will not engage with heavy handed sales content over and over again. Continually bombarding your audience about your product, your event, your work etc. means that they will stop listening to you altogether, because you are not talking to them – you’re shouting about yourself at the top of your voice into a vast space with thousands of other people doing the exact same thing. Knowing your audience and knowing what they want is the very first step to creating compelling and engaging online content rather than perpetuating an exploitative, disposable online sales culture. You can add value to what you are selling at no extra cost, just by engaging people in a meaningful way and you can help build a positive digital marketplace in which audiences and content makers are able to use the space to meet their needs. Here are some tips for creating good, inclusive digital content:   Write well  ...