Five Common Social Media Grammar Blunders That Should Never Happen

Unless you’ve unplugged, and haven’t been on social media this decade, you’ve probably seen the meme: “Commas save lives.” Underneath this headline are two phrases that read: “Let’s eat, Grandma” and “Let’s eat Grandma.” Funny.

What isn’t funny is how many egregious spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors—many much worse than a missing comma—continue to show up on brands’ social media platforms. They make marketers look careless at best, and downright dumb in the worst-case scenario. And if it’s bad enough, your gaffe could go viral.

For example: in a banner ad promoting personalized greeting cards, its copy crowed that the company was “always upholding the highest standards for every detail”—except, apparently, its advertising, because the word “detail” was misspelled.

Fast is good. Accurate is essential.
Of course, social media platforms demand that you get relevant content out there quickly—so with today’s tight deadlines and thin budgets, you may be tempted to leave proofreading out of your process and/or your estimate.

Our advice? Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. To review: don’t do it.

At Martino Flynn, we’re old school: we employ a full-time, dedicated professional proofreader. And based on the sea of red that consistently flows out of his pen onto our work, it’s money well-invested to protect brand identity—and integrity—for our clients.

Marketer, correct thyself.
Hey, we all make mistakes—we transpose two letters while hurriedly typing, or think we hit the space bar and didn’t. Those types of errors are easily found and fixed. We’re talking about thoughtless mistakes that make it look like you just don’t care. And we’re not advocating stiff, formal, by-the-book grammar. In this very post, you’ll likely find participles dangling and sentences that begin with “but.” But …

… even informal, contemporary copy needs to follow some basic rules. And the following are among the ones that are broken most often on social media:

  1. You’re kidding, right? Using the wrong form of “You’re” and “Your” has become so common, we fear that the AP Stylebook folks will just throw up their hands and declare that both are permissible in every usage. And that goes for “they’re” and “their,” “it’s” and “its,” and “to” and “too,” too.
  2. Exclamation points: just say no. It’s your ace in the hole—don’t play it unless you absolutely, positively need it. If you scream at your readers in every other sentence, nothing will stand out and they’ll stop listening. Besides, it makes copy sound like it was written by a 12-year-old. So unless you’re marketing to 12-year-olds, stop it!
  3. Companies are not people. You may well be as passionate about your company as you are about your second cousin Billy—but it’s not a living, breathing thing. So if the Acme Plunger Company announced record earnings, “it” announced them, not “they.”
  4. Apostrophes make things possessive, not plural. If you’re writing about two potatoes, it’s “potatoes,” not “potato’s.” But if you’re writing about the potato’s skin, then … aw, let’s call the whole thing off.
  5. Use “less” less, and “more than” more often. The “10 Items or Less” sign in every supermarket? It’s wrong. “Fewer” should be used with plural nouns—as in “10 Items or Fewer.” “Less” should only be used with singular nouns. Here’s a way to help you remember: if you want to drink less coffee, drink fewer cups of it—simple.

(And on a related note, a company hasn’t been serving its customers for over 20 years—it’s been serving them for more than 20 years.)

The shame of it all is that smart people are making these mistakes, probably because they’re going too quickly. But to meet the almighty deadline, they put themselves one unfortunate slip away from viral disaster. Adding just one hour for a trained proofreader to carefully examine copy and layout can make a world of difference.

But whatever you do—if you take only one thing from this post—remember that whenever you use the word “public,” triple-check that the “L” is, indeed, there.

Thanks in advance.

Business Blogging With Purpose

It’s no secret that blogs populate every corner of the web. Everyone from stay-at-home moms and coffee enthusiasts to Fortune 500 marketers and small business owners are part of the “blogosphere.” However, despite the fact bloggers are increasing in number, only a small percentage of those blogs really stand out.

Often, corporate and brand blogs are created without a clear purpose; content is simply published in hopes that it will reach the right audience. It’s easy enough to create and populate a blog, but without the proper strategy, there is no guarantee that your posts will be seen and resonate with the right people. I’ve authored blog content for clients in varying industries and on many different topics—including dog washing, personal skincare, and cyber security, to name a few. As a result, I’ve coined my own “best practices” for publishing a successful blog on any topic, for practically any business.

  1. Know your audience.

It’s a simple strategy: know the audience that you want to reach and cater your content accordingly. Once you have identified your target audience—by age, gender, title, industry, or other factors—you have the basis for your content. Instead of focusing on the type of information you think is interesting, pay attention to the type of content your readers are responding to on your blog and across the web. Also, pay close attention to the news and pinpoint current events that affect your readers. By incorporating this information into your blog content, your brand can join a larger conversation and create a stronger connection with your audience.

  1. Go beyond words.

The data speaks for itself—blog posts with images and videos are more widely viewed. In fact, according to Internet Marketing expert Jeff Bullas, articles with images get 94% more total views than articles without images. Be sure, however, that your photos (and videos) support and amplify your written content. If a photo or video doesn’t fit in your blog post, perhaps a visual display of information may resonate better with readers. Most people are “visual learners” and would rather see information and data in charts, graphs and infographics rather than explained in words. This type of original and useful content will also positively impact your Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

  1. Get a grasp on SEO.

You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again: Content is king. To ensure SEO success, you need to address a number of content “elements”—namely, developing fresh, high quality content. Throwing in “buzz words” is not a strategy—instead create content that delivers real value and the right key words will find their way in. Go beyond simply talking about your products or services; instead, publish content about industry best practices, current trends, and hot topics. Think about the language your customers are using when they search and produce content that effectively “answers” those queries. This type of content will ensure that the right people are finding their way to your blog and, ultimately, your business.

  1. Don’t skip the details.

Opinions on the ideal length of a blog post vary widely and change year to year. However, we know that people are increasingly drawn to in-depth content, and the trend-line for ideal word count is on the rise. This isn’t to say you should automatically increase the length of your blog posts, but rather that readers value the thoughtfulness, well-researched information, and storytelling that is often displayed in long-form posts.

  1. Stay on the radar.

One of the most important attributes of a successful blog is post frequency. There is no one-size-fits-all number for how often you should post—it largely depends on your industry and the quality of your content. For example, those in the technology field know that new products and research pop up daily, so your post frequency should keep up with that news cadence. While there’s no magic number per se, pay attention to industry norms and respond to readers’ needs to know how often to post content. Once your blog is established, you can also test the effects of increasing or decreasing post frequency by paying attention to traffic, engagement, and subscriptions to see what formula is working.

If you’re ready to launch a successful business blog that will resonate with your audience and drive traffic to your business, contact the Martino Flynn content marketing team today. Email Megan Brandow at mbrandow@martinoflynn.com or give us a call at 585.421.0100.

The Official Blog of Martino Flynn