While it’s certainly important to use proper grammar (or risk hurting your brand’s online reputation), there are always exceptions to every rule. When writing for social media, you have some added flexibility. In fact, in certain cases, it’s even advisable to ignore the grammar handbook--as long as you do so with a purpose. Social media is a conversation; to be conversational, you need to loosen up your writing.
In short: Sometimes you have to be wrong to be right.
Here are five grammar rules you can--and should--break in your content on social media.
1. Write out numbers smaller than ten.
Traditionally, we’ve been told to spell out any number smaller than ten. However, for the sake of readability online, it’s best to use numerals when writing subject lines, list titles, or headlines (i.e. this blog post title).
2. Don’t use sentence fragments.
Fragments can be used to emphasize a point or create proper cadence in your copy. Of course, this should be done sparingly and strategically.
3. Never start a sentence with a conjunction.
But this is how consumers write on social media and naturally speak. To be conversational--or to emphasize a point--it is perfectly acceptable to begin a sentence with “and” or “but.”
4. Never end a sentence with a preposition.
Sure, if you can easily rearrange the sentence to avoid ending it with a preposition, then by all means, do it. However, because grammar is more relaxed online (and again, because this is natural in conversation), you can let this one slide.
5. Avoid using slang.
Yes, “gotta” isn’t grammatically correct, but it might be what your customers write. Maybe you wouldn’t say “awesome” in your traditional marketing materials, but your online persona would. Use casual, familiar terminology to speak to consumers in their “language” and better relate to them. Just be careful not to over-do it.
These are all rules that can be broken--as long as you do so intentionally. Always make sure to copy edit your social media content and consider both the audience and clarity of your message when deciding whether or not to break a grammar rule.
Which grammar rules do you think are fine to break on social media? Share your thoughts in the comments!