I’ve said it so many times, I’m sure I’ve lost count – but your presence, the vision and tone that comes across as your online or social design is about so much more than font choice, color schemes and custom graphics. The very words you choose, and how you choose to use them, makes a lasting impression on your audience. Wouldn’t you rather that lasting impression didn’t leave you looking like an idiot?
Typos happen, even incorrect word choice typos. We all post the occasional it’s when we should use its. How you deal with these makes all the difference. I fess up, immediately. If it’s a post that has yet to receive any comments or nods of approval, I delete it and start over. Fast fingers and busy schedules often result in typos. But, I’m not talking about the occasional typo. We all know when it’s a typo and when it’s much more.
Copyediting is just one of many tasks on my plate as a content marketer. From run on sentences to poor comma placement, I read, revise, read again. Copyediting is also a service I provide under contract. Commas, spacing issues, misspellings and more tend to fill my days. However, I think word choice errors are the errors that can play the most havoc with your brand and your reputation.
Admit it, when you see someone post something similar to the sentences below you feel a momentary twinge, a feeling of shame:
Your the best fans ever.
Their is nothing wrong with the occasional fill in the blank post.
I would of called you if I knew you were going to be in town.
We love are followers!
The last one, especially, makes my eyes want to die a little bit!
Who’s to blame? The expectation of our fans, followers and customers/clients? Does the expectation of a rapid response negate the need for a second set of eyes? Should we blame the education system? Or the government for handily and repeatedly reducing education spending? My answer might not make any of my readers happy. We can only blame ourselves. The blame falls on the individual author. Because, you see, we all know better.
We know that the contraction would’ve comes from the words would and have. But we think it’s cute and trendy to say “would of”. Trust me, it’s simply wrong, not hip. We could attempt to blame text speak and the propensity to use ur instead of you are. But that one loses its merit when you realize your isn’t the same as you are or you’re and has nothing to do with text speak.
So, I’ve called you all out, in a somewhat snarky fashion. But I’m not going to leave you hanging. I plan to offer you two easy solutions to your word choice woes.
1. Ask someone you trust to be your second set of eyes. Someone who won’t skim, someone who will read with the intent to seek and destroy faulty grammar and improper word choice/use.
2. Can’t get someone to act as a second set of eyes? Use your lips. What? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you. Read your article/post OUT LOUD. Expand those contractions. I would’ve, expanded, reads out loud as I would have. Which is correct. HOORAY. They’re coming to see me expands to they are coming to see me. Correct again. If it sounds wrong when you read it, it’s worth that second look with your own eyes.
While our fans, followers and connections do expect a quick response, a short pause for a second set of eyes or a quick read aloud can save face when it means weeding out word choice errors.