Be Very Careful How You Post Online

November 29, 2016 – 2:26 pm

These days, with social media becoming a part of our everyday lives it is increasingly important how you present yourself in writing in the online world. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram and other such social media platforms have become an important part of the way many of us communicate on a daily basis. Because of their immediacy and reach, these are very powerful ways of communicating instantly with large numbers of people, worldwide. However, if you don’t pay careful attention to the quality of the posts you make online you could be hurting yourself in ways you haven’t even thought of, or can’t even imagine.

Last week I saw a good example of this on Facebook (FB).

A post appeared on my normal Facebook feed page that was made by a person whom I don’t even know. The reason I saw that post in my FB feed is because someone who I have “friended” at some point in time, simply clicked on the “like” button under that particular post on their own FB feed page. (They could have also chosen to “share” that post and I would have seen it on my FB feed for that reason). In this particular case the person who made the original post, whom I don’t even know, had decided to go into some sort of written word rant about how they were very upset with people who used animal and cartoon images as their Facebook profile picture. This person wanted only photos of the actual person to be used, and they were therefore going to “unfriend” anyone on their FB friends list who used an image other than their own photo. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with that if that’s what that person chooses to do. It so happens in this case that the person’s little rant also made numerous disparaging remarks about the characters and motives of the people who don’t use their own photo on Facebook.

But the real kicker was that the individual’s rant was absolutely riddled with errors in basic English spelling and grammar! (To the point where I almost did my own rant about that right then and there!)

The moment I noticed that the person who had made that post seemed to be bordering on illiterate, yet had the audacity to make a widely public written-word rant, they lost all credibility in my eyes. Whatever point they were trying to make about the FB profile photos suddenly became meaningless to me. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to dismiss this person based on the poor quality of that post.

Listen up people! It is extremely important to your reputation and your credibility just how you present yourself in your social media posts, because those may well be seen by thousands of people worldwide. After all, you don’t want to look like an idiot to people around the world do you? Although, looking like a fool should be the least of your worries if you make poorly written posts on social media nowadays; as I point out in the following paragraphs.

Employers are Watching
Prospective employers are routinely checking out the Facebook and Linkedin profiles of job applicants these days. If you have made a (bad) habit of riddling your posts with spelling and grammatical errors, chances are that this will be noticed and taken into account by hiring managers. Any job that requires at least high school graduation will require adequate basic writing skills. Seriously, don’t shoot yourself in the foot this way and get screened out of a competition based on poor social media posting habits!

College Admission Staff Are Watching

Admissions staff at universities and colleges are also checking out the online posts of applicants these days. Do you want to present yourself as semi-illiterate to a college or university because your posts are full of spelling and grammar mistakes? The worst thing about this is that if you get “screened out” by applications staff for your poor social media posts, you’ll never even know that this was the main reason you didn’t make the cut!

Prospective Dates Are Watching
It’s not only prospective employers and college admission people who will be checking out the quality of your posts these days. I was recently talking to someone who regularly uses online dating websites such as match.com, PlentyOfFish, zoosk, eharmony, etc. She was telling me that the moment she sees a dating profile that is poorly written and/or filled with errors, she immediately dismisses that person as a legitimate dating prospect. She told me that I would be surprised about how many people claim to have college level education and then post a profile that is rife with errors in spelling and/or grammar. In fact, she uses the quality of writing in online dating profiles as a screening tool for narrowing down her field of dating prospects. Those profiles with significant errors get deleted during her very first pass. I’m sure she is not alone in doing this!

Please note that above I’m not even talking about the subject/content of your posts on social media. I’m simply talking about the way in which you use the English language in a very public forum. And this doesn’t only apply to social media posts. I recently read Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance” (Penguin Press, 2015), in which he states that poorly written sms text messages are a turn-off and sometimes a deal-breaker for many people during the initial phases of dating.

My best advice on this? ALWAYS have a grammar and spell checker program installed and running whenever you compose any type of social media post or text. Also, after drafting even the shortest of messages, STOP and read it over BEFORE you send it. Correct any errors and edit it for clarity if necessary. Think to yourself whether you would understand receiving such a message if you were the intended recipient.

If you have any reaction, advice, or thoughts on this subject, please make sure you post your points in the COMMENT BOX below.

For more articles like this one, or for additional practical writing tips, tricks and advice, make sure you check out my main writing help website:
http://www.writinghelp-central.com/

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  1. 26 Responses to “Be Very Careful How You Post Online”

  2. You are absolutely right! The only possible reason for mistakes is that perhaps the person was a foreigner? Maybe English is not his native language? My native language is Russian and I hate reading comments in Facebook with terrible mistakes.

    By Elena on Nov 29, 2016

  3. Hi Shaun,

    Today’s article certainly ticks a lot of boxes for me.

    I see plenty of poorly written comments either on social media or

    in the comment boxes on the many YouTube channels that I watch.

    Is there a particular spell check programme that you would

    recommend?

    Thank you,

    Bruce

    By Bruce on Nov 29, 2016

  4. Thanks Bruce,

    The grammar-check/spell-check program that I use these days is Grammarly. There is a free version which you can install on your PC or mobile device that will auto-scan your text creation in multiple applications. Here’s the link:
    https://app.grammarly.com/

    They try to upsell you to the Premium version but I’ve been using the basic version without problems.

    By Shaun on Nov 29, 2016

  5. Thank you Elena,

    You make a good point when you state…
    “Maybe English is not his native language?”

    However, if one is going to write in English in a public forum, one should make the effort to get it right. (or at least close to right). With free grammar and spell checkers such as Grammarly and others, there is really no reason to not eliminate at least 95% of errors.

    By Shaun on Nov 29, 2016

  6. Thanks for your post.

    By Shehzad Ch on Nov 29, 2016

  7. Yes. You are absolutely correct.
    Thanks a lot.

    By rudra on Nov 30, 2016

  8. Hi Shaun,

    Greetings !

    Very useful post. I liked the way you projected this. I am sure many people would take this in a positive way where their decency and professionalism shows to the friends / public. Looking forward for the December post.

    HAPPY HOLIDAYS !

    Regards

    Annapurna

    By annapurna on Nov 30, 2016

  9. Yeah Shaun, you are right. Our government In Indonesia, has just revised the ITE (Information Technology) act, and now those, who provoke people can be jailed for 6 years plus be fined up to a fantastic amount of Rps. Transgressions are most happens in the field of conflicts on races, religions, ethnics. We wish this revised act may prevent us from any proxy wars, and I think, as it formerly happened in some parts of our continent. Let’s make our planet be peaceful forever. Any disputes to be handled through negotiation to reach a consensus which is a win-win solution.
    Ashari.

    By Ashari on Nov 30, 2016

  10. Thank you Shaun,
    I agree with your Post. I believe a good and proper way of communication should be the order of this age’s conversation. Majority of people are engaged in communication socially and business wise, and the only way they are assessed by clients is through their communication.

    I commend your efforts.

    By Emma, on Nov 30, 2016

  11. The advice you gave is perfect. It may be not making it a habit to check spelling and reading it over before submitting that causes it.
    Thanks for writing. It makes a lot of sense.

    By Bimpe on Nov 30, 2016

  12. Hi Shaun,
    A very relevant article for today’s electronic age. Can I add use of acronyms and modern day self-created abbreviations to the list of errors too?. Some of those are really an eyesore and headache for readers!!!
    Thanks
    Soma

    By Soma Misra on Nov 30, 2016

  13. Hi Shaun, you are right. English is not my first language but I make every effort to write it properly.

    By Busi on Nov 30, 2016

  14. Bravo, Shaun! I too delete and ignore posts from seemingly illiterate-minded people. They do lose their credibility. I also shun any vulgarity, which I think is worse. They not only lose their credibility, but they lose their consideration of others.

    By Rita Kroon on Nov 30, 2016

  15. Hi,
    I have been following your blog for many years, but have never provided my freedback. I enjoy reading each of your blog posts and always learn something new. Thank you very much for writing on such an important issue. Just wondering if the Grammarly is phone friendly? Im not sure.

    By Sara on Nov 30, 2016

  16. Unfortunately, I do not have spell check programmed in my phone however, there have been times when I type so fast that I misspell words. I do have an issue when people bring their private lives to social media or argue with each other on social media.

    By Lillian on Nov 30, 2016

  17. Hello Shaun,
    Welcome from your election break. I also wish you happy Thanksgiving Day.
    Thank you very much for this article and advice. I appreciate it a lot.

    By John Kennedy Kwesi Obeng on Nov 30, 2016

  18. Hello Shaun,

    This is an interesting post. I have found it to be an eye-opener for all of us. We sometimes lose focus on our readers especially on social media and feel it’s OK because we are addressing people in an informal setting and can write without vetting our script. Thanks again for sharing this information with us. It was well received.

    Have a blessed day

    By Georgie Lynn on Nov 30, 2016

  19. It seems I hit a nerve with this particular post. People seem to be reacting to it strongly.
    Keep those comments coming!

    By Shaun on Nov 30, 2016

  20. Hi Shaun,
    This is an interesting post …. can you support or guide on to how to draft an email through example…writing method, style, grammar.
    And kindly suggest any good software for spell checking and grammar please.
    Regards…

    By Qudoos on Dec 1, 2016

  21. Agreed!
    Thank you Shaun for this very good advice.

    By vin on Dec 1, 2016

  22. Amen to that! Being a book worm myself I’ve always been fully conscious of how meaning can be totally twisted by a wrongly spelled word…

    By Sydney on Dec 1, 2016

  23. Hi Qudoos and others,
    I already responded to Bruce above with my recommendation for a spell/grammar checker, as follows:

    The grammar-check/spell-check program that I use these days is Grammarly. There is a free version which you can install on your PC and/or mobile device that will auto-scan your text creation in multiple applications. Here’s the link:
    https://app.grammarly.com/

    Bruce already contacted me and he has installed it on his MAC computer and it is working fine. I have it installed on my PC here.

    By Shaun on Dec 1, 2016

  24. Hi Shaun,
    I like this post and thank you for the link. I will definitely use it. I agree with Lillian, I have in the past typed/texted so fast that I have misspelled words. I think we can all benefit from using spell check. I enjoy reading your blog and everyone’s comments. :)

    By Maria on Dec 2, 2016

  25. Hi Shaun,

    Thank you very much for your tireless efforts to teach and share your knowledge. I love to read your posts. All posts are contextual.

    With best regards,

    Yog Maya

    By Yog Maya on Dec 6, 2016

  26. Hi Shaun
    Wonderful information about how to write on social media.
    Chase

    By Chase Clark on Dec 16, 2016

  27. Hello Shaun,

    Thank you for the wonderful insights you have shared with me through this whole year. It has truly made me a better person and I have immensely benefited from your writing skills. An English weekly magazine has taken me on board as their sub-editor, so it’s great going at the moment and something that I enjoy doing.

    Here’s wishing you and yours Happy Holidays and may 2017 be a fabulous one for all.

    Maria

    By Maria Fernandes on Dec 21, 2016

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