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Mistakes

Have you ever seen a mistake in someone else’s blog or social media post?  Or maybe you’ve been a victim of this yourself?  It could be a simple typographical or grammatical error, a case of misattribution, or a more serious case of factual error.

Unfortunately, it happens far too often, for some very obvious reasons:

  1. Some content is dictated and the speech-t0-text software sometimes gets it wrong.
  2. Editing is done in a cursory fashion, or sometimes, not at all.
  3. Fact-checking, a staple of traditional publications, is rarely done for online content.  (And it is rarely done for traditionally published content either.)
  4. A post relies on a third party for facts, when, in fact, the third-party’s content may not be correct, or worse, the third party site may have relied on yet a different non-corroborated third-party source.

A few examples:

  • In a post entitled Six Top Thought Leadership Articles, there was some text that incorrectly said, “Here are sex posts that explore these concepts.”  The feedback was instantaneous (and a bit embarrassing).
  • In a recent Facebook post, I “quoted” the very prolific Albert Einstein, who said “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”  Unfortunately, Einstein actually never said this.  (Hat tip to Larry Goldberg and others who pointed this out.)  In this case, we relied on third-party sites, who relied on other third-party sites within the world web web echo chamber.

Mistake repair strategy:

  1. When quoting a person, whether they are alive or dead, double-check the accuracy beforehand.  www.quoteinvestigator.com is a great place to start.
  2. Edit the post if possible.  If not, add a comment acknowledging the error.
  3. If the post is of lower value, and there are no comments attached to it, delete it entirely.
  4. As a courtesy, circle back to the source of the error and advise them of any necessary changes.

This week’s action plan:  The fact that errors do creep in begs the question of the quality of your content editing and review process.  This week, consider whether any of your errors were random or can be traced back to a systemic issue:  is it time to upgrade your editing process? Or add some fact-checking?

Can you find the error in this post?  Yes, there is an error in this post – did you happen to see it? Look for “speech-t0-text” within the post: the word “to” is spelled with a zero instead of an “o”.

Finally, a hat tip to the talented Daniel Wolgelerenter, a professional editor and copywriter, for going through earlier versions of this post.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

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Social Media Manners Matter

by Randall Craig on March 10, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Social Media

Tagged as: ,

There is so much written about what TO do with Social Media, there is so little written about what NOT to do. More than any other medium – telephone, written letters, email – Social Media is incredibly risky. Whatever you write can be broadcast worldwide, is archived forever, and can have an impact well beyond the intended audience. Watch out for these pitfalls:

1) If you’re upset about something that was written, and you know the person who wrote it, it is far more productive to pick up the phone and ask them to retract than to engage in a public “flame war”.

2) Don’t post pictures of yourself that could be embarassing later on. (PR pros will tell you to use this test: if your mother or your manager would approve, then it’s probably OK to post. It’s too easy to be disqualified from jobs based on inappropriate Facebook pictures or comments.

3) Don’t ask others for recommendations on LinkedIn unless you’re pretty sure that they will agree. If you’re unsure, pick up the phone and have a conversation first.

4) Be careful of flooding your “friends” with Too Much Information in your status updates. They’ll eventually tire of it… and disconnect from you.

5) Don’t gossip about third parties (your boss, friends, etc) – even if it is supposedly “private” they’ll eventually see it, and you’ll be terribly embarrassed – or fired.

6) Social Media is really a connection to a person – not their wallet. If you abuse your connection by always trying to sell your stuff, it reflects poorly on you.

7) When you comment on others’ posts, remember that others (their family, co-workers, boss, etc) may read them.

8) Likewise, be very careful about posting photos of other people: they may not wish other people to see them in that photo.

9) If you quote someone else on your Blog, or if you refer to something else on Twitter, acknowledge (or Retweet”) the source with a link and their name. Otherwise it’s stealing.

10) Don’t forget that not everyone is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the myriad of other Social Networks. If you’re trying to reach out to your community, don’t forget those who aren’t fully connected. Picking up the phone, or jotting a quick note will make sure that everyone is included.

This Week’s Non-action Item: Social Media manners DO matter: try to avoid these mistakes.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.