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Spelling and Grammar – Yes, They Matter!

“Spelling doesn’t matter.” That’s what my son’s sixth grade teacher told her students a few years ago. Spelling doesn’t matter?! I wanted to march down to the school and let her know what I thought of her advice. What planet is she on?! Clearly not a planet where she’s responsible for marketing a business.

Just like a university essay or job application, if you’re using social media to market your business, whether it be real estate, a local dance studio, or a retail shop downtown, spelling and grammar DO matter. And they matter BIG TIME!

Think of it like this: If you hired a printing company to print business cards, would you accept those cards and hand them out to your clients and potential clients if they had spelling or grammatical errors on them? Of course not! And why not? Because those business cards are going out into the community as physical representations of your business, and you certainly don’t want people thinking that you’re okay with getting things wrong.

(An aside: I have been handed three separate postcards by three separate businesses over the past few months that have had spelling errors on them. Proofread! Please!)

Think of your social media posts in exactly the same way. EVERY time you post something to your business’ social media page it is going out into the world as a representation of your company — and typos, spelling errors, grammatical errors, etc., reflect poorly on both you and your business. At the very least it makes your viewers think you can’t be bothered with the details. At the very worst, it turns people off so badly that they no longer want to deal with your company. Just ask a grammar nerd (go ahead, ask me!) if they will take their business elsewhere if there are consistent spelling and grammatical errors on a company’s social media page. The answer is an emphatic YES!

One typo makes you human. Consistent carelessness makes me question how well you treat your customers. Because if you don’t care enough to spend the time nurturing the online voice of your business, then are you going to take the time to nurture relations with your clients? And if your social media is clearly being treated as an afterthought, do you treat your customers that way as well?

I know what you’re thinking. “But my social media IS an afterthought because I’m so busy with my clients.” Okay, point taken. But even if that’s the case, do you want the online voice of your business to be riddled with errors? Likely not. Spend the extra 30 seconds to proof it and then proof it again. Read it out loud and sloooooooowly to make sure it’s correct before you click ‘post.’

I’m not the only one who feels this way. A great post on entrepreneur.com notes that correct spelling and grammar aids in your business’s message being understood and interpreted correctly, “reflects credibility, intelligence and reliability, and indicates that you care about your business.”

They site a study done by the BBC that found that “spelling mistakes can cost millions in lost sales,” damaging consumers’ trust in a brand, and that “a single spelling mistake can cut online sales in half.”

Can your business afford to take that kind of hit?

If you simply don’t have the time (or expertise) to handle this stuff yourself, you may want to consider hiring a social media manager (wink, wink). But before hiring anyone, do your research. Not all social media managers are created equal, and sadly, not all can string a sentence together. Read their posts. Read their clients’ posts. Are there typos? Spelling errors? Grammatical errors? Punctuation errors? Do they use the same voice for all of their clients? And if so, do you want them to be the online voice of your company? It pains me (truly!) to see the number of posts sent out by social media managers that are riddled with errors. Do your homework before you hire, and make sure they will treat your business as they would their own.

So the next time you’re tempted to rush through a Facebook post just to get it off your plate, think of that post like a business card you’re sharing with the world — and take the time to get it right.

Unlike the ridiculousness my son’s teacher would have you believe, spelling DOES matter!

~ The Social Gourmet

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