Why online posts need to be proofed before posting and some solutions.
Tl:DR: An error in your online posts looks bad, you look bad, people laugh at you, you suffer, your employees suffer and everyone is sad.
“Oh” you say “So what’s wrong with a little error? I’ll just fix it later, I mean it’s not like I’ve just spent thousands of dollars putting up a post on Facebook, it’s not a press ad after all!”
I’m going to be blunt: “No.” Please. No. Please proof read everything. Get into the habit from now. I’m going to give you the three top reasons why it’s important to proof your posts before publishing. After i will give you some techniques I have learned over the years to minimize the appearances of “printer’s devils.”
Once your post is out there, it’s out there
You could argue that if you made a mistake in your post you can easily change it and that will be that. Unfortunately there is a little matter of screenshots. You may think you’ve removed every compromising photo of yourself from the internet, but unfortunately download apps and simple screenshotting can keep those memories lasting forever. When your post has errors even tiny ones, your competition can then use that as content to push their own engagement. Don’t give them an excuse.
For example, NP just today sponsored a post on Facebook and while it’s a well done post that invokes engagement the message is lost as result of one misspelled word. NP subsequently changed it, but I had already screen shot it for the purpose of this exercise. You may make mistakes, you are only human, but minimizing mistakes is the key.
Extra, Extra EXTRA, read all about it, media houses’ glaring errors in headline!
If you are a media house, you are especially guilty of making glaring errors in your posts. We get it, you are trying to get the scoop over the other channels. We also get that you have to contend with a pesky thing called “fact checking” but the older heads of organisations know, that you must employ less haste and more speed. There is no excuse for typos.
Create a system where your post is read by at least ONE more person before its published. It doesn’t matter what the post is, even the image itself if it contains copy, must be proofed before publishing. Editors need to take a more active role in what the editorial departments are doing online. This also goes for the ticker tape on the TV (the spelling errors there are myriad!) and even errors in the headlines of the traditional newspapers. Come on guys! Quality control! Try harder!
Commenting in the conversation requires a once over
Lastly engaging with users online is a cornerstone of a good social media strategy. However don’t press the enter, click the post button or send the response without reading it over. Too often social media managers, myself included, respond as if in real life, off the cuff, and without thinking. The best piece of advice I was ever given was from my friend and financial advisor, who said
“I type my response and then delete it. Then I type it again without the emotion and read it aloud. Then, and only then do I send it.”
Check the “teh” and the “ot” and the “tis” and especially know when to use the apostrophes. There are a ton of spell checkers and online dictionaries that you can use to check everything. Use it. Don’t just type rubbish and click send. That’s going to hurt you more in the online world online than help. Yes it will cause “conversation” but it might just cause you to look foolish. You are trying to keep advocates, not alienate them and it’s hard for someone to defend you if you don’t really care how you look.
What to do to help fix your Social Media presence
How do you solve your problem? You could hire a person with writing experience, a senior copywriter or supervise your editorial staff closer. But one of the things that has worked well for me in the past is the buddy system. Before you send that post, send it to a friend to “throw an eye” over it. If you don’t have anyone you feel you can trust to do this, or do it in time, save the file and close it. Walk away for five minutes. Come back and open up the post. Read it again. Then make adjustments. Close the file one more time. Open it again and glance at it, you will see any errors. There is a trick the mind pulls on you. The mind tries to find breaks in patterns and sometimes not seeing the pattern can actually see where the words don’t look right or even things that are missing.
Its probably a good idea to invest in a social media manager like Hootsuite or Buffer and if you have access to a team have them all have roles and responsibilities. No post should be pushed out without approval from a senior person tasked with approving posts for content. Its called a virtual signoff, if two users on the system have read and made adjustments the post can be pushed out.*
If you’ve made the mistake and it’s already out there.
Then don’t panic. Acknowledge that an error was made in a polite way and remove the offending post. Reschedule for another day or repost with the correction. This time don’t send it with an error. If you have a good monitoring system, again Hootsuite has one, you can use that to monitor conversations and gently push people to the revised content. This requires a Social Media manager and a good team to help monitor and curate content everyday.
Digital content isn’t like an unguided missile, there is no “fire and forget button”. You need to check it like a growing thing and nurture it. You need to guide it to its ultimate goal, to gain more followers, advocates and conversions.
Do you have any examples of posts “gone bad?” Let me know in the comments. If you see any errors, please let me know in the comments.
*I can help advise, set up and manage a hootsuite deployment. Get in contact and see how I can help you with this.