I have worked with Dayspring Center, a shelter in Indianapolis for homeless families with children, on its social media presence as volunteer/pro bono consultant since 2011, even during the 2+ years I lived out of Indiana! More recently, I have been giving the organization my expertise in copywriting, helping to perfect various written pieces like donation appeals.

My main contact Cheryl and I recently both attended a fundraiser for Dayspring, where she affectionately introduced me to some folks as both her social media expert and her grammar zealot. “What are your top three tips?” asked a friend of hers. I launched into a spiel, starting with glowing praise of the Oxford comma. It was after tip #2 that he clarified, “Oh… I meant what are your top social media tips?”

Oh.

I listed those with near-equal enthusiasm. Without further ado, here they all are!

Top 3 Social Media Tips

1. Keep promotional posts to no more than 20% of total.

Usually, posting on social media is a means to an end: increasing sales. In Dayspring’s case, the end is fundraising for a good cause.

So it’s understandable to post promotionally. But too much, and your following will get burned out. You don’t want to be sold to all the time, so why would you think your audience would welcome constant pitches? Limit the sales-focused posts to just a fifth or less of the total. The rest should be entertaining, interesting, or generally serve to help keep your company top of mind.

2. Short, sweet, and well-written with great images.

People are busy, distracted, and hardly read even important things, so why would they give an in-depth read to your social media post? Research from Hubspot shows that even with the 63,206-character maximum for Facebook posts, the ideal length is just 40 characters. Make those characters count by using correct spelling, proper grammar, and standard punctuation. That’s not to say your posts should be formal! Use your brand voice, and you can even include some humor! Just know that errors reflect poorly on your organization.

So let images be your thousand words. Your posts should pretty much always include at least one image, or a video. Remembering to take photos of events or people for social media is definitely a new habit, especially for folks older than Millennials. It’s like having a little voice in the back of your mind that always asks, “Is this Facebook-worthy?” If it is, break out the smartphone!

It’s definitely worth the effort – visuals are much more eye-catching and thus more effective in newsfeeds. What’s more interesting – “Have a Happy 4th of July!” with just text, OR including a beautiful photo of fireworks? And don’t just pull sad, pixelated images off the internet. Your images need to, well, look good. I think anyone can learn to take decent photos with a smartphone, but if you just don’t have a good eye, find someone who does.

Still need ideas about where to source photos? Here are two posts of Kahunify’s with more ideas!

Getting Creative with Facebook Post Images
Need More Photo Ideas?

3. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

You could post on social media every single day with great content, but you will barely see an increase in followers. Why? Because it’s social media, not a megaphone. That’s what sets social media apart from traditional one-to-main media like TV, newspapers, and radio.

Very few new folks will see your post if you’re only announcing to the same current group of followers. So, find other accounts to interact with – perhaps other local complementary businesses (not competitors) if you’re a local business? Or some popular/quasi-celebrity locals? Don’t just build a fortress of content – build a network. Make connections, scratch some backs, and be sociable!

Case in point – I worked with a client and built the company’s Twitter following by over 1,600% in six months by not only posting engaging content but also reaching out to other key accounts, interacting with them, and of course, being very responsive when folks reached out to the brand. When the client moved to a (not-recommended) posting-only social media approach sans the sharing and interaction, the follower count flatlined and soon actually started losing ground.

Top 3 Grammar Tips

1. Oxford comma, how I love thee!

The Oxford comma (aka the serial comma) is the scalpel of grammar enthusiasts: a necessary tool of precision.

The Write Practice highlights this example:

Amanda found herself in the Winnebago with her ex-boyfriend, an herbalist and a pet detective.

Is Amanda’s boyfriend an herbalist and a pet detective? Or is she hanging out with three people? The latter is more feasible, but without the Oxford comma, who can say?! The Oxford comma always lends more clarity. In fact, the lack of clarity from the lack of an Oxford comma actually cost this company millions.

The Oxford comma is just better, plain and simple. Make it a habit!

2. Never use apostrophes for plurals

Here are some examples I have seen recently: Open on Sunday’s. Ginger latte’s. Air mattress’s. Photo’s. Brewery’s. Taco’s.

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Why does this seem to be getting more and more common? Why do people seem to fear writing Sundays, lattes, mattresses, photos, breweries, and tacos?

Apostrophes are never used for plurals, not even decades (it’s 90s not 90’s). The only time I’ve seen it used tolerably was for a family with the last name of Doshi. “Doshis” seemed to misrepresent their name, so “Doshi’s” was the way to go.

3. Avoid repeating words

Good writing should have a flowing rather than a choppy rhythm. Repeating words can seem uncreative at best and read like a child’s book at worst. Here is an actual example, in the form of a brief bio, that I came across recently (name and company have been fictionalized):

John joined Veridian Corp in 2005. As Veridian Corp’s IT Manager, John oversees the development and maintenance of the company’s IT systems, data and infrastructure. John also coordinates priorities between IT and other departments within the company. Prior to joining Veridian Corp, John worked for an internet provider and consulting firm.

Take a closer look:

John joined Veridian Corp in 2005. As Veridian Corp’s IT Manager, John oversees the development and maintenance of the company’s IT systems, data and infrastructure. John also coordinates priorities between IT and other departments within the company. Prior to joining Veridian Corp, John worked for an internet provider and consulting firm.

Here’s the tally for repeated words:

John: 4
Veridian Corp: 3
The company: 2
Join: 2

Yikes. Now here’s a reworked version that reads much better:

John joined Veridian Corp in 2005. As the company‘s IT Manager, he oversees the development and maintenance of IT systems, data, and infrastructure. John also coordinates priorities between IT and other departments. He previously worked for an internet provider and consulting firm.

By using pronouns and trimming unnecessary phrases (e.g. “departments within the company”), I was able to drastically reduce the repetitions and enhance the flow. Bonus, I added an Oxford comma! Here’s the new tally:

John: 2
Veridian Corp: 1
The company: 1
Join: 1

Need the help of a grammarian social media expert?

Top 3 Social Media & Grammar Tips
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