Charlotte Hyland

Is Bad Grammar Costly in Social Media?

This is a guest post written by Jennifer Birch. Jenni is a British writer who’s passionate about PCs and operating systems. Connect with her through Twitter at @WrittenByJenni

Photo courtesy of DWRL U. Texas via Flickr Creative Commons
Social media has been great for spreading news, bringing the world together, making new friends, business opportunities and more. For every perk there is also a downside though, one of which has become more apparent over the years. Spelling and grammar has taken a significant hit.

Look through your Twitter and Facebook feeds: how many people use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar? Text speech, auto-correct, bad typing and laziness have lead to an increase in poorly written content on the internet, but as Wise Marketing explains, while social media is essential for customer communication, “writing for it can be tricky to master.” They also supported with Busines2Community’s take on the matter. During the promotion of your brand to the world, bad grammar can and will be costly to the cause.

Reflects poorly on you and your business
Spelling mistakes, even tiny ones, give off the impression that you do not care about the subject in discussion over social media. Which in terms of your business can be very damaging for your career. If you were reading a tweet or a news post on a businesses Facebook page, and you spotted several spelling issues throughout, it gives you the wrong impression. If they can’t be bothered to proof a sentence or paragraph, is that how they treat the product they are selling and their potential customers? It doesn’t leave people with confidence in you.

The wonder of the spell-checker
Use the spell-checker. Turn it on in your browser. Write the message in a word document before you paste it into your social media account. If you’re using a smartphone, read and re-read to make sure auto-correct hasn’t turned ‘hello’ into ‘hoop’ or something equally ridiculous. We’re all prone to typographical human error, but if it’s a choice between your reputation as an educated human being and clicking one button to check for mistakes – the answer is obvious.

The 140 character issue
When you tweet to your Twitter followers, you’ve got 140 characters to get your point across. Micro-blogging of this kind means that any misplaced or missing words and punctuation will be glaringly obvious to the reader. There’s forgetting that hashtags and punctuation don’t mix on Twitter (ruining a perfectly good tweet) and then there’s writing ‘Youve got to see this!’ in the main body of the tweet. One is acceptable, the other is a nitpickers delight.

In response to constructive criticism
It’s human nature to be defensive when someone points out an error you made. On social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, where your mistakes will broadcast to other users, you’ll often be called out for your spelling errors. ‘Trolls’ will do so to provoke a fight, but many are just trying to help you out. So hold your temper when you respond. Think of your followers as additional editors, take on board their advice and don’t take offence. You never know, you might thank them one day.

Try not to be too vocally critical of other users
On the flip side, if you spot another user with terrible grammar, punctuation and spelling on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram etc., try to limit your vocal disdain for bad writing. There’s being a helpful follower with advice, and then there are patronizing rants that make other users feel stupid. Tweet how you want to be tweeted. A high and mighty attitude towards good grammar can loose you followers just as quickly as careless typing errors.