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First-person or third-person?

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

The best point of view for your brand



If you’re writing for the web, you’ll likely be familiar with writing from the first and third-person point of view. These perspectives are typically the most popular choices when writing content online for web pages, landing pages, blog posts, press releases, and more. However, both serve different purposes depending on your brand tone, the type of writing, and the audience.


Good copy can distinguish between a click-through and a user opting to look elsewhere. In fact, you’ve only got 8 seconds to grab someone’s attention when they land on your website, so it’s essential to write enticing content to engage your audience. So, when it comes to web content, is first-person or third-person better?



What are first person and third person?


When deciding whether to use first person or third person, you’re choosing which perspective you’re writing from. Here’s a quick recap:


First-person: talking from an I/we perspective

Third-person: talking from the standpoint of he/she/it/they


How to write in the first-person point of view

The first-person point of view is when we talk about ourselves, use our opinions and refer to things that happen to us. When writing from this perspective, you would use first-person pronouns, such as I, me, my, mine, and myself, or the plural forms: we, us, our, and ourselves. It’s a more human and engaging way of addressing your audience, making your content more conversational and less transactional. A simple example sentence is:


“We’ve been proudly serving our community for over 10 years”.


How to write in the third-person point of view

When writing from a third-person perspective, you’re writing from the view of the person being talked about, for example, a company. In this case, you would use the following pronouns: he, him, his, himself, she, her, hers, herself, it, its, itself, they, them, their, theirs, and themselves. A simple example sentence is:


“Customers can receive free shipping on orders over £50”.



When to use first and third-person


Whether you use the first or third person depends on the copy you’re writing. Some copy calls for a more engaging and human approach, whereas others require a more formal take. Here are some examples of when you should use a first or third-person perspective in your copy.


Web content

When writing website copy, both first and third-person can be effective depending on your business and what you’re promoting, your website goals, and who your audience is. Many brands are moving towards the first-person point of view as it helps customers feel closer to the brand, more involved, and part of a community with a more human touch. On the other hand, the third person can help build authority and expertise by creating a bit of distance between your business and your audience.


Advertorials and articles

It’s best to write advertorials and articles from a third-person perspective to avoid sounding like you’re endorsing the product or service. The piece should seem informational, rather than plugging your company name, and the more information you provide, the less it seems like an advertisement, allowing you to create trust with the reader.


Press releases

A well-written press release allows publications to quickly turn around stories and get your company’s name out there. But which perspective should you use? In general, press releases should be more formal and use a third-person point of view to relay the facts you want to provide about your company. Reporters will write their version of the story based on the facts you present, so it’s best to keep it objective.


Blog posts

When writing blog posts, you can use first or third-person, depending on your business and the goal of your blog. If you’re working for yourself and representing your brand, writing from the first-person view can add an authentic and personal touch that resonates with your readers. If, on the other hand, you prefer to keep a more objective view, then the third person is best. It can work well for academic writing, thought leadership posts, or anyone wanting to provide information objectively.


Social Media

Again, the perspective you choose will depend on your business and goals, but social media tends to be written from a first-person point of view as the aim is to interact with your audience. Social media is a chance to communicate with your target market and convey your brand personality, so it’s better to write from the first person to keep your copy conversational and familiar.


Writing in the third-person perspective on social media can create an unnecessary barrier between your brand and your audience. You may only want to use the third person on social media for some announcements or sharing information from a press release.


Emails

It’s usually more appropriate to use a friendly and chatty writing style from the first-person perspective rather than the third person, which can often sound aloof and hostile. Writing in the third person is more typical of a manager or supervisor addressing a subordinate, and the formality of the style tends to indicate power. If you’re sending out newsletters or email marketing funnels, using a first-person perspective will help move customers down the funnel by keeping them interested and building rapport and trust.


Call to action (CTAs)

CTAs must be enticing and persuasive, encouraging potential customers to take action. Whether making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or visiting your website, a strong CTA can be the make or break of your marketing plan. A study indicated that CTAs written in the first person had a 90% better conversion rate, so consider adapting your CTA to the first person to give the reader more control over the customer journey.



Is first-person or third-person better?


There is no right or wrong option when using the first-person or third-person perspective. The best advice for writers is to evaluate which to use based on brand tone, style, audience and type of writing. However, when it comes to web content, businesses tend to favour a more engaging first-person point of view to help build a connection with potential customers and encourage them to buy into the brand.


Benefits of third-person

  • Objectivity

  • Authority

  • Academic and technical writing

  • Formal and professional

Benefits of first-person

  • Emotional connection

  • Engaging

  • Subjectivity

  • Conversational


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