Common digital communication channels

This resource will help you understand the differences in online communication channels, and their conventions, for use at home, at University and at work.

At University, the ability to communicate well is an important skill to learn and one highly sought by employers.

Consider the following when coummunicating online:

Who is your audience?

When you communicate online using publicly available channels like open social media accounts, blogs, comments and forums, you are writing to a potentially massive audience. It's important you consider both the bigger picture - that you are communicating with hundreds of people you may never meet, and the smaller picture - your target audience. Consider both these audiences, as you decide what information you would like to share. 

When you are communicating online using a more targeted medium like email, private social media, online class forums and message boards, or even Zoom calls, you can be sure of the audience you are communicating with but it is still important to consider what kinds of communication are appropriate for that audience.

Consider your conventions

Once you have picked the channel you want to use, be aware that there may be conventions for that channel.

For instance on Twitter it is a convention to use hashtags and to write succinctly in order to keep to the word limit. Blogging, however, has different conventions. For example hashtags are not used, and a blog post can be longer as it has no word limit.

On messaging apps and social media, it’s appropriate to use abbreviations, slang, and casual language, but in a more formal medium like email or your class discussion boards it’s best to use more structured and polite language and proper punctuation.

On Zoom calls, the convention is to have an appropriate background (real or virtual), keep your camera on, and keep your microphone muted when you are not speaking. You can use the raise hand function to indicate that you want to unmute your microphone and contribute to the conversation, and use the chat function to add your thoughts without disrupting the speaker.

Good communication practices for digital channels

There are some fundamental principles you can use across most digital communication channels to be effective in your communication. After considering your audience and the conventions of the channel you are using, think about some of the more specific skills shown in this video to help you communicate clearly and effectively in your University and personal life.

Communication channels

We use a wide range of communication channels in our day-to-day lives. The following describes some of the more common channels and conventions used today.

ChannelPurpose and conventions

A blog post is an entry of content published on a blog. Blogging traditionally took the form of an online diary or journal, but has evolved to be a diverse and dynamic medium that is one aspect of long-form online publishing.

Examples of blogging or publishing platforms you can use include: Squarespace, Blogger, Wix and WordPress.


A comment section is a forum-like space that usually accompanies a piece of content. The space is for people who have viewed the content to provide feedback or discuss it.

YouTube videos, Facebook statuses and WordPress posts are examples of content that have comment sections.

Message boards/forms

Message boards (also known as forums) provide a place for conversations to be held in the form of posted messages held in topic-themed threads.

Examples of message boards include Reddit (with news aggregation), 4chan and Shlashdot.

Messaging apps

Messaging apps offer the option of real-time chat over the Internet with the options of direct messaging (DM) and sharing files like images, music and more.

Because messaging apps are in real-time, it's important to think before you post and to understand that nothing truly disappears from the Internet.

Examples of direct messaging platforms include Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Viber and WhatsApp.


A podcast is an audio recording discussing one or more topics, usually told as a story.

Podcasts are shared
via platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Soundcloud so that people can listen to them.

Tools that can help you make a podcast include Audacity for audio editing, and Garage Band for recording.

Social media

Social media refers to a collection of online platforms that enable users to connect socially.
How this connection occurs varies between platforms, but can include things like short posts (i.e., tweets on Twitter), sharing images (i.e., posts on Instagram). 

The posts you make to social media might attract a wider audience than any of your other online communication.

Examples of social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Video conferencing Video conferencing platforms allow you to interact with others via an Internet-enabled video connection. Examples include Zoom, and Skype.
Voice over IP (VoIP) VoIP consists of a group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over IP networks such as the Internet.

A website is a collection of related web pages. Web pages contain a variety of information including text and multimedia elements. Web pages are created using technologies like HTML, CSS and JavaScript which are interpreted by a web browser.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.