In these social-media driven times, a company’s image depends increasingly on its words. From blog posts, tweets, and Facebook status updates, to good ol’ fashioned billboards, a brand’s ability to deliver error-free copy is key. While only a handful of people might notice a minor grammatical blunder in a corporate LinkedIn page, major errors undermine the brand’s credibility. After all, if a company can’t even spell correctly, why would consumers trust them to deliver a quality product?
The Grammarly team decided to take a look at some of the top brand battles of all-time; we looked at recent LinkedIn posts from each company on the list, reviewing an average of nearly 400 words per company. After scouring the posts for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, clear winners emerged:
- Coke vs. Pepsi: Coke makes four times fewer writing mistakes on Linkedin than Pepsi.
- Facebook vs. Google: Not only does Google dominate the Internet, but it also makes nearly four times fewer writing mistakes than Facebook on Linkedin.
- Ford vs. GM: GM makes two-and-a-half times more writing errors than Ford.
Now, it’s unlikely that you’ll choose Coke over Pepsi because of its superior command of the English language; at the consumer level, brand loyalty is based on more than advertising or web presence. However, the care that a company takes with its communications is often indicative of its overall attention to detail. Investors and competitors may judge sloppy writing, especially in the more formal setting of LinkedIn, as a sign of carelessness in a company’s overall corporate culture.
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are often under even greater scrutiny from eagle-eyed proofreaders, who have posted countless examples of bad grammar on sites like Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, and Pleated-Jeans. The Internet has made it much easier to record, share, and immortalize these mistakes.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that all social media liaisons and corporate bloggers need to be English literature professors. A skilled proofreader, whether in-house or freelance, will catch most errors. An automated proofreader like Grammarly can also help clean up copy quickly, which is perfect for smaller pieces with quick turnaround, like Tweets or status updates.
Speaking of Twitter and Facebook, it’s important to note that not all platforms are judged equally. Off-the-cuff social media can—and should—be more conversational and informal than business documents or print advertising. No one expects a 140-character Tweet to use perfect grammar and spelling, but corporations who attempt to be “hip” by using text slang often fail to impress their intended audience. Check out this roundup of corporate “Twitter fails” for examples of social media gone horribly wrong.
The rules of acceptable grammar are always changing—does anyone really bat an eye anymore at Wendy’s “late nite drive-thru?”—and too much inflexible formality in writing leads to stilted copy. While some grammar rules shouldn’t be broken (here’s a list of 25 common grammar mistakes to avoid), knowing the intended audience and the conventions of a particular social media platform can go a long way to setting the tone for your writing. In general, younger consumers care less about grammar than their older counterparts, and sites like LinkedIn are more formal than Twitter or Facebook.