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Apr 08 2013

Levels of Language in Social Media

While most people imagine a very formal job search language for resumes and cover letters, writing on social media can be much more casual, more authentic, and more narrative.

Consider this major shift in language when using social media: that the very best LinkedIn profiles are written in the first person. I’ve heard many stories of people shifting this one element and getting fabulous results online.

As a terrible speller myself, it always irks me to hear how picky many employers are with typos and spelling errors. What a shallow judge of character.

[Editors note: Or, a good judge of careless work habits, speaking as a poor speller, myself.]

But the reality is that on your more formal job search documents, résumé, email inquiry (cover letter) or job application, spelling and grammatical mistakes can ruin your chances.

Luckily, you don’t have to be so uptight when writing for social media. Especially when you are sending out posts. And, social media combined with widespread use of texting has created language additions and modifications, like BTW, LOL, OMG, and many more.

Most people understand that there is a fine balance between the timeliness of the post (getting it out fast) and the quality of the post (how it is written). The more you post, the better your digital literacy; you will be able to post faster with more quality posts- only with practice.

Getting Started in Social Media

At first, however, you may feel the urge to hold onto your words like a mother reluctant to let their first-born drive off to college for the first time. It’s natural.

Here are some tips to help you with your first posts:

  • Always write in the first person.
  • The shorter the lifespan of your post, the less you have to worry about proper writing (example, Tweets, Timeline Posts and LinkedIn Updates don’t even need to be in complete sentences. If you let a typo through, it’s ok.)
  • Longer lifespan content should be more polished, (example, your Facebook “About You” section, Twitter Bio or LinkedIn Profile should be free of typos and spelling. Grammar can be of the truncated sort.)
  • If you can say it in fewer words, do so. Brevity is the key when communicating online
  • If you can say it with a picture, do so. Yoda says, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.”
  • Don’t $ell, YELL, or be a troll. Imagine one person in front of you, and are simply starting a conversation with them. Write down what you might say to that person.

As you gain experience, it will be easier, but it pays to be careful even when you have years of experience.  Don’t be thoughtless about what you post publicly (or even privately in some networks).

Bottom Line

What you make visible in social media will be viewed as representative of your personality and your potential as an employee.  Picture the hiring manager at your ideal employer reading everything you publish on social media.

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