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I once met an American who prefaced all of his online stuff (and he had amazing online real estate) with the preface that any typos or grammatical errors were placed there for the audience’s reading pleasure. A fantastic get out of jail free card but two questions emerge is this how we want to be remembered and do grammatical errors and typos damage your brand?
Good questions (even if I say so myself) and the answers are ‘of course not’ and ‘yes they do’’. “Whether it’s a status update, a tweet, a share of a link, or a comment, if it doesn’t read well, it won’t work well. From a branding perspective, this is a major faux pas; it makes the company look unprofessional and careless. From a user perspective, it can harm interaction and engagement, rendering the whole process pointless.”
But the great thing is you can grab your brand back from the jaws of mediocrity by being engaging, informative and consistent. [viralpullquote box_position=”right” font_style=”” font_color=”#40003f” ]Grab your brand back from the jaws of mediocrity by being engaging, informative and consistent. [/viralpullquote] because that’s exactly what your audience is looking for. They want to know that by coming to you will enhance their lives or their businesses in some way.
Whilst I am not giving you permission to be sloppy what I am saying is that it’s a bit like going to a restaurant you will forgive ‘okay’ food if the service is excellent but if the food is just okay and the service is poor it’s very difficult to come back from that and you never forgive bad food.
How many times have your read something from a ‘leading authority’ or ‘guru’ on a topic you are interested in finding out more about and just as you are settling down to get to grips with what you are expecting to be a sizeable chunk of new knowledge or perspective you are greeted with an ‘almost’ unforgivable error and even worse you are not even sure what point is being made (I know that is definitely not the case here). Disillusioned and in despair you vow never to trust what they are saying again. [viralpullquote box_position=”right” font_style=”” font_color=”#40003f” ]Disillusioned and in despair you vow never to trust what they are saying again.[/viralpullquote] Okay perhaps the last part is slightly exaggerated but it does highlight a key point; poor grammar and poor writing can cause your audience to lose trust in you and what you say and we all know that trust is an important part of the buying process.
Scary thought and one that suggests we should always approach our keyboards with caution. Okay this is not a horror movie so I will stop the dramatics but there are some things to bear in mind whenever you sit down to write something.
If you do not have the pleasure of being able to employ a proof reader this could be your work around. Scratch that even if you can afford the luxury of a proof reader you should approach all of your writing in this way.
Let’s start at the end and work our way forward.
When you have typed your final full stop take a step back and admire your handy work. Do a jig, get yourself a drink or whatever takes your fancy and takes you away from what you have just written. I say this because we all know when we read something just after we have written it the text says exactly what we think it should say. It’s as though somehow our minds gloss over the errors and fills in the gaps so that it looks perfect to us.
When you return instead of just reading what you have written read it out loud. Reading aloud engages a different part of the brain and will highlight any mistakes if you have muddled the point of your writing or have failed to use correct punctuation and you will usually be able to spot if you have used the wrong spelling of a word i.e there, their or they’re (those little things that spell check can’t help you with). If it’s hard to read, then the answer is simple re-write it!
Here are four points to consider even before you write your first word.
Remember your values. Everything you produce with your name on it is a testimony to you and what you stand for. Anything of poor quality will just diminish your credibility in the eyes of your readers and the company that you represent.
Find your voice. Write in a way that will enhance your brand image, whatever that may be. Build continuity between your brand image and online personality. For example, a company may have the perception of being fun, vibrant, new and exciting, but their online presence does not reflect the same image.
Get to the point. Whether you’re writing copy trying to fit a message into 140 characters, it’s important that the message is strong. It’s about quality and depth and not the amount of words. My friend Seth Godin (he personally replied to my email) often writes short blog posts and he has the ears of millions. No one is interested in how many words you can write they want to know what nuggets you have to share with them. Journalists are often told to write as though writing for a 14 year old may be you should adopt that rule of thumb too. Be clear about what you are trying to say. Chances are if you are clear your audience will be too.
Think outside of the box. At a time when there are so many other distractions for your readers you need to find ways to get them engaged. Be creative in your writing. Instead of just stating the facts about a topic tell them a story that helps them create pictures around what you are saying, takes them on a journey and engages their emotions.
For your reading pleasure here are some interesting Twitter spelling mistakes.