How to Write Well on Social Media Channels: Avoiding Grammar Gaffes

» Posted by on Jul 31, 2012 in Facebook, Marketing | 1 comment

How to Write Well on Social Media Channels: Avoiding Grammar Gaffes

Nervous about sounding professional on your blog posts, Tweets, and Facebook status updates?  All of us need to be careful about maintaining good writing style, even on social media channels.  This article from Information Week sites 11 of the most common grammar issues that the author sees on social media:  I add five more errors to watch out for.

Debra Donston Miller’s 11 Grammar Gaffes to Avoid

Author Debra Donston Miller sites her top 11 tips, which really involve remembering your fourth grade basics.  The article gives a great explanation of each, but in summary, here they are:

  1. It’s and Its
  2. Your and You’re
  3. To, Two, and Too
  4. There, Their, and They’re
  5. Sentence Starters and Endings
  6. Punctuation in General
  7.  Lose and Loose
  8. Then and Than
  9. Using Apostrophes to Make Words Plural
  10. I and Me
  11. Good and Well

As an editor, Debra’s eye is tuned in to these errors; but I’d argue that anyone who reads an intelligent newspaper once in a while will notice quite a few of these.  They are worth avoiding.  Read your kid’s grammar textbook for a refresher and you’ve got it down.

Five More Social Media Writing Tips

I’ll add my own 5 pet peeves to Debra Donston Miller’s list above.

  1. Ellipses…. An infinity of ellipses….which seem to never end…. And so on and so on….  This is the written equivalent of saying “ummmm” all the time during your speech.
  2. Colons and Semi-colons.  I know, this may seem like a subtlety; but it’s not particularly difficult.  A colon is used before a list or definition.  I need three things at the grocery store: oranges, milk, and bread.  Car: a four-wheeled motorized transportation device.  A semi-colon separates two phrases that go together, but could have been two distinct sentences.  I work in social media; I’m also a mom.  My blog gets thousands of comments every day; I cannot respond to all of them personally.
  3. TYPING THINGS IN ALL CAPS.  Putting things in all capital letters is screaming in typewritten form.  You wouldn’t do it in an office so don’t do it with a keyboard.  Try some other methods of emphasis.  You could use italics, put things in bullet form, or simply hit return to give a statement its own line.
  4. kEEPING tHE cAPS lOCK oN.  That one is so obvious, it’s sad.  It’s unprofessional to be too lazy to correct something that is so clearly a mistake.
  5. Not Classy.  If I hadn’t written number three I would have put this in all capital letters, because it needs emphasis.  I am continually surprised at the things people write about themselves and others on social media channels.  Swearing (even in symbols) and rants are just not appropriate on a business site.

Social media writing makes an impression.  Be sure it’s the impression you want to make.  Don’t forget to spell check!

Miriam McNabb is a principal at Spalding Barker Strategies, social media and interactive marketing consultants.

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent info for all writers. Can I repost this?

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