10 Things to Do Before You Hit Publish

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Scan your local Facebook or Instagram feeds, and you’ll see a plethora of posts with obvious spelling, punctuation, or content errors. If the post is originating from a friend or family member the problems might be forgivable, but when a business or government agency creates a post that is full of mistakes, it is downright unprofessional. Read through our suggestions on what to check before you hit that publish button.

1. Check the Content

First, examine the content of the post itself. Does the wording make sense? Does the post have a logical flow? What is the purpose of the article? Most important of all these points is: are the facts in the post correct? If not, you can pretty much guarantee that someone on the internet will notice and point it out. When posting on social media sites and representing a government agency, you’ll want your information to be not only concise, but also correct.

2. Give it the “Mom” Check

 As an individual, you might often post about your own particular beliefs or opinions. As a government agency, you’ll need to ensure that what you post is in line with the agency’s vision. Beyond that, the post should be appropriate for all people and all ages. If in doubt, first consider whether you would feel comfortable sharing the post with your parents (and if not, steer clear). Many agencies have had to deal with issues by accidentally posting inappropriate or questionable content on social media.

3. Utilize the Appropriate Resources

When posting, you’ll want to use the correct forum for the type of information you’re trying to get across. Photos are best used on Instagram or Facebook, while emergency information might be best suited for Twitter. When you review the content of your post, it’s also a good time to consider what audience you’re aiming for, and what site they’re more likely to utilize.

4. Give Credit Where Credit is Due

When posting media, verify that you’ve given credit to whoever created the art you’re using, (such as the photographer). This might be as simple as tagging them in the post or listing their name and the title of the work. If the media has a watermark across it, you can be sure that someone created it and didn’t want it used without their permission.

5. Expand Social Media Use by Collaborating

 To reach more of your target audience, review your content and see if there is another agency, non-profit, or business that you may collaborate with in order to get a wider distribution of your post. This might consist of tagging the group in your post, agreeing to share each other’s post, or utilizing appropriate hashtags to get your post to show up in more feeds or streams. In addition, make sure that your post is shareable so that your citizens may help get the word out on important topics.

6. Give it a Read Through

Starting at the beginning, read through your post multiple times. First, silently to yourself looking for any obvious spelling or punctuation errors. Second, read the post out loud, and listen for any breaks in sentence structure or flow. Oftentimes when we re-read and re-edit the same text over and over again, our brain automatically skips over errors. Reading aloud helps you to note any obvious mistakes.

7. Spellcheck is Your Friend

Although the length of your agency’s social media posts may vary from just a line to a few paragraphs, any amount of misspelled words will stand out to readers, making them question you and the information you’re trying to highlight. Consider constructing the texts of your posts in a program that utilizes spellcheck, but don’t rely on this alone. Read through each word carefully to ensure it is spelled correctly. One tip is to read through the post backward; you’re more likely to catch spelling errors if you’re not “in the flow” of a sentence or a paragraph.

8. Peer and Supervisor Review

  One of the best tools you have is your coworkers around you; if you have the time and the option, have someone else check over your post for misspellings, misleading or incorrect information, or general post flow. This might be a coworker, or your agency might have rules on whether a supervisor must review the post prior to being published. Once the post has been reviewed, go back through the checklist and verify that everything is complete and spelled correctly.

9. Use the Preview Function

 Although some services (like Hootsuite) let you preview content prior to publishing, other social media sites may lack this function. If you have the ability to preview how your content will look prior to going live, use it. If not, consider using one of many tools online that helps you see how your social media will look before anyone will actually see it.

10. Post at the Optimum Time

 Sprout Social has conducted some intriguing research on when people are most likely to see your social media post, according to what site you use. Social media is useless if no one reads what your agency is publishing, so it’s handy to know when you should publish to maximize your audience. For Twitter, Wednesday is the best day to post. For Facebook and Instagram, Thursday will be your best bet. It’s important to note that in general, posting during the week is a better option than posting on the weekend, and the best time is during the day on any weekday.

To sum this up, review your content early and often, and preferably by other people. A single mistake on social media can have devastating consequences when it gets viewed by the public, and it’s much better to catch errors before you hit that button.