January 2, 2018
What do you think is the most important skill to look for in a new social media hire? For many organizations, the answers are predictable: familiarity with core social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, experience managing social ad campaigns, or perhaps technical skills like HTML or Photoshop.
However, anyone applying for a digital marketing position will be intimately familiar with Twitter and Facebook. Most grew up with social media, and many have never even lived through the agony of being kicked offline whenever someone in the house picked up the phone.
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “Hey, my 12-year-old niece loves Facebook! She could run my company’s page for free!” I have important news for you: The most valuable skill in entry-level social media hires is not knowledge of Twitter or Facebook. It is a fanatical love of English grammar.
The fact is, you can always teach a motivated new hire how to manage a Facebook page or navigate a new social management platform. But if you can’t write, it’s almost impossible to execute any of these tasks well. In the most real sense, social media is about communication, and since ALL social platforms are about communicating through text and rich media, writing is a community manager’s foundation. From formal writing on a corporate blog to one-off comments on LinkedIn, the ability to clearly and intelligently articulate a message is crucial.
To make the situation even more complicated, it’s not just about the grammar. Yes, your new social media manager must be well versed in APA style guidelines to succeed, but they also need an intimate understanding of the specific grammatical constructions appropriate for each client and social channel.
Below is a rundown of a few key writing best practices for the most widely used social channels in B2B marketing:
Remember: Just because the people who comment on your page fail to use the proper versions of “your/you’re” and “there/their/they’re” doesn’t mean you can. Your writing should be professional and concise, and posts should be kept to a 1-2 sentence maximum as a rule of thumb.
Once again, just because your followers use hashtags like #iluvjustinbeiber does not mean that you can do the same on a corporate feed. Like any social community, Twitter users live and die by unwritten rules of social etiquette. This, paired with the importance of brevity, makes corporate Tweet writing more of an art than a writing exercise.
While traditional style guidelines are less important on Twitter, they are by no means invalid. For example, subject-verb agreement is crucial, and there is a special place in the underworld reserved for brands that substitute numbers for words. (“OMG, U 2?”) The key is to understand which words are acceptable to leave out for the sake of brevity and which words are necessary to convey your message.
Perhaps the most important social platform for B2B marketers, LinkedIn has the potential to reach the most relevant audiences. As a business, it’s important to sound professional without being too salesy and to sound personable without being too emotional. Avoid any use of slang and keep exclamation points to a minimum. Remember, LinkedIn is the best platform to reflect thought leadership. Post rich content with relevant visuals at least three times a week, if not daily. And just like the other social platforms mentioned, double check for grammar mistakes and always stay engaged. Promptly reply to comments and messages.
For many organizations, one of the core objectives of a blogging program is to position the company as an industry thought leader. This means that any errors in grammar, spelling, or flow are a direct reflection of the leadership potential of your company. Regardless of whether you’re writing for a big security brand or small virtualization startup, blog managers must take quality of writing seriously. Remember: In the real world, you can back up your words with a commanding physical presence and strong interpersonal skills. Online, your words are all you have.
Need help curating effective, engaging social media copy? We’re happy to help! Contact us.