Editing can be a headache, but it’s the best way to prevent a content nightmare.
Poor editing can sink your business. Sloppy writing signals to prospects that you’re lazy, incompetent or careless—and perhaps all three.
Thoughtful, sharp editing is about much more than correcting spelling. If you’re charging clients for content, your editing should account for presentation and design. Your edits should also be client-focused and attuned to the social media platform you’re posting on.
Of course, there’s plenty at stake. We’ve all seen editing horror stories, which social media denizens are always delighted to highlight.
If you’d like to avoid loads of embarrassment—and quite possibly the loss of your business— here are four steps to better editing:
1. Make it a team effort. It’s perfectly acceptable for one person to handle a client account, but there must still be oversight and overlap. Let’s assume that Team Member A handles Twitter for one of your biggest clients. Team Member B handles everything else.
A and B must talk—and help each other out. Tweets, for example, should be reviewed by a fresh pair of eyes. Twitter still lacks an editing function, so read copy carefully before clicking the blue button.
Before publishing anything on any platform, make sure that at least one other person reviews your content.
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2. Emphasize clarity. Your aim is to help clarify and strengthen a client’s communications. As you edit, replace ambiguous language or anything potentially confusing. Delete industry jargon and buzzwords.
Use simple language that’s easy to understand. Also, ensure consistency by having all copy go through a strict, codified proofing process.
3. Establish your house style. Which grammatical guidelines do you follow? Whether it’s AP style or another respected source, select an arbiter of language that you all agree to follow.
Write down forbidden phrases that should never appear in your content. Document the steps of your proofing process, and establish who is responsible for what.
Your house style guide will and should evolve, and it should also account for your client’s needs and preferences. Ask for their feedback on words, phrases and jargon they abhor.
4. Don’t neglect measurement and metrics. Let feedback inform the editing process. Mind your metrics to see what’s resonating with your audience, and take note of the language used in posts that perform well.
Beyond quality control
Thorough editing is about having full control over the work you produce for clients. It’s about much more than spelling and grammar. With each tweet or post you publish, you put your client’s reputation on the line.
It’s worth the added time, energy and expense to make sure it’s right the first time.
A version of this post first appeared on the Locowise blog.