Grammatically Correct Confusion

I read a lot of blog articles about Social Media in Emergency Management, Law Enforcement, First Response, etc.

Lately, there have been conflicting lines of thought regarding grammar in Social Media posts.

The Advanced Public Information Officer training, at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute, stresses “Flawless Grammar” in Social Media releases.

However, Cheryl Bledsoe (@CherylBle), at the SM4EM Blog responds with,

“…The Twitter community will ask you to provide timely, relevant and interesting information. Accuracy is good, too, although in dynamic situations may be a little tricky. I’ve heard it said that you can be timely or accurate, but rarely both at the same time. Your community will forgive you for inaccuracies as long as you quickly correct misinformation and communicate regularly.”

Ok, this makes sense.

Over at the IACP Center For Social Media’s blog, Billy Grogan (@ChiefGrogan), in a piece titled “The Grammar Police,” writes”

“…Although some shorthand is used on certain social media sites like Twitter, because of the character limitation, that should not be the norm. It is important that the massage the department is trying to convey is clearly and accurately represented so the department’s social media followers will get it. Some posts may offer critical information that could place the public in danger if misunderstood.”

His blog post is riddled with subtle spelling errors, in an effort to draw attention to his words, and the impact that poor grammar can have to the overall message.

After reading these two blog posts, which seem to contain contradictory suggestions, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes the importance of the message outweighs the need for 100% flawless grammar…depending on the Social Media platform.

Posts on Facebook, or blog posts with critical information? Absolutely, you had better run your prose past a proof reader first.

On Twitter, with it’s 140 character limit, you might need to exercise the editorial pen quite a bit. However, keep in mind that your customer (general public, residents, etc) need to be able to understand what you post, as well as understand the importance of it.

Not sure what to abbreviate, or how?  Check out Webopedia’s Twitter Dictionary.


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