Depending on who you ask, social media is either helping young people become better writers or it is harming the written language beyond repair.
We’ll remain impartial for the sake of appearing objective, and simply state the facts.
Fact: Childhood literacy has increased over the years, supposedly in part because of the increased frequency of texting and tweeting.
Fact: Because of the limited number of characters on Twitter and the fast-twitch nature of social media posting, rules of grammar, punctuation and spelling are falling by the wayside.
Fact: Young people aren’t the only sufferers.
While many of us have left college essays and book reports behind us, the wonderful world of writing creeps up in literally every business career. For sales reps in particular, this usually means client emails, business plans and, you guessed it, bid proposals.
We’ve discussed before the value of being personal in your proposal writing. But there’s a big difference between personal writing and professional writing – and an even bigger gap between each of those and social media speak.
So let’s break down some common infringements that cross the line when it comes to being too informal:
Don’t use @ for “at,” $ for “money,” x for “times” or % for “percentage.” These types of substitutions look lazy and make your writing more like a puzzle than a proposal. And even though ampersands (&) are fine in headlines, graphs and official company/department names, you should still use “and” in proposal copy.
Don’t substitute “K” for thousands ($150K), “M” for millions ($100M) or “B” for billions ($18.6B). It’s more impactful written out, not to mention less likely to cause a silly mistake – we see things like $1,500K often, and the writer means $1,500 nine times out of 10.
An H.S. in NC
Abbreviations in general are red flags, but extreme shortcuts like H.S. (or HS) for “high school” or NC for North Carolina are a big no. Even though they’re saving you space, you’re forcing your reader to do your heavy lifting.
Social media isn’t all about shortcuts – there’s a lot of yelling, too. Using all caps to get your point across in a text or Twitter post might seem like the only way, but you’ve got plenty of better options when it comes to business writing. Keep the uppercase letters to acronyms, proper nouns and the beginnings of sentences.
Bidding to a new client and boasting about all Compass Group has to offer is definitely exciting, but keep exclamation points to a minimum; we’re talking four per proposal – tops!
Whether you believe social media is the bane of all existence or the best thing since sliced bread, the communication tactics used on Twitter versus those required for proposal writing are – and should be – vastly different. We still want you to write conversationally, but your business writing should not read like a text, Instagram or Facebook post.
TBH, no1 should rt like this IRL, IMO. C U l8er!
Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.