The humble typo, the rise of the typosquatter and the words which fool the spellchecker

As well as creating and sharing content, I spend a lot of my time preparing and checking other people’s content before publication. So many of us are authors to some degree today – and whether it’s part of our job to write reports, press releases, company blog entries etc, whether we maintain a personal blog, or even if we just regularly participate in forums or Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, the written word is part of all of our lives and should be treated with respect. So it got me thinking about the humble typo…

Beware the tiresome ‘typo’
It goes without saying that in an ideal world, our written communications would all be grammatically correct, well punctuated, and free of the dreaded typo. Originally, a typographical error or ‘typo’ referred to a mistake introduced during the manual type-setting process hence ‘typographical’ error. But today we use the word typo to describe any mistake introduced in the typing process, whether it be due to carelessness, bad typing or just plain old ignorance… You might think, who cares, it’s only a tiny error, get a life! And, in a quick text to your sister this is true, it’s the message that’s important, not the perfect spelling. But in business communications any typos will stick out like a sore thumb, they will ruin the flow of your text, and they certainly won’t make your work appear professional. Would you trust a business whose website or brochure was peppered with grammar or spelling mistakes? I think not.

The rise of the ‘typosquatter’
The huge number of typos keyed in to the internet each and every day has even led to the creation of the ‘typosquatter’, which refers to someone who purchases URLs similar to a real domain, but which include a common spelling error, transposed or omitted letters, or a variant of the original. A recent prosecution involved a fake Wikipedia at www.wikapedia.com. These ‘typosquatter’ sites are often made to look like the real thing, the user is then asked to enter their details, maybe for a competition when they will have to call, surprise surprise, a premium rate number which could end up costing them hundreds of pounds. If you are not sure of the exact URL then always double check. That tiny typo could end up costing you dear!

The spellchecker is your friend (but not always your best one)
Spellcheckers are a brilliant invention, and are great at picking up misspellt words, but not so good when you have mistyped one word, and in the process created another. Also MS Word helpfully autocorrects your typos for you as you type, but not always into the word you wanted…

People often transpose or omit letters when typing without noticing. Then when you read over your work afterwards, your brain is very good at seeing what it expects to see (especially so if you are the author) so it often glosses over the error. This is why, you should always use an extra pair of eyes before you publish your content, whether it be a friend, your business partner, or if you have the budget, an experienced editor or proofreader (like yours truly of course!). This is particularly important for printed content which cannot easily be corrected.

I have made a list of the most common errors I see when editing and proofing, so please pay extra attention when using the following words – as you are on your own… the spellchecker won’t spot these. I can honestly say that I see the first four errors in practically every manuscript I work on!

Top ten typos which your spellchecker won’t spot

being (instead of begin)
manger (instead of manager)
pubic (instead of public)
form (instead of from)
of  (instead of off)
you (instead of your)
its (instead of it’s)
quiet (instead of quite)
lose (instead of loose)
perfect (instead of prefect)

If you have any more terrible typos to add to my list then please add to my post.

Hope this was useful, until next time, Emma

Posted in Small Business, Words and Language, Writing and Editing | 2 Comments

Social media for small and micro business – Dos and Don’ts


For small and micro businesses like us here at Amberweb, social media is more an investment of time than money. The basic tools are free and minimum technical skills are needed to get started, so with a few hours a week, any small or micro business owner is able to jump on the social media bandwagon.

However, a poorly executed social media campaign can actually do your business reputation more harm than good. So before you start, ask yourself if you are realistically able to commit a few hours a week to social media not just for the first few weeks, but on an ongoing basis. If the answer is ‘no’ and you are really pushed for time, then rather than making a half-hearted attempt at social media just because everyone else seems to be doing it, put it on the back burner and invest any spare time in improving the content and user experience on your company website.

Alternatively, an option would be to work with a freelance social media professional who can assist you with preparing and moderating content for your business’ social pages on a regular basis. But whatever you do, don’t spend hours developing a Facebook page, a blog, a Twitter account, etc only to find yourself two weeks later too busy to maintain and moderate your social sites. All your hard work will go to waste as people lose interest in your out of date content.

But, if you have done your research and decided that social media could benefit your business, and that you have the time to invest in getting it right, then here are some dos and don’ts to consider before you start.

Social media for small and micro business – DO

Make your posts interesting, informative and insightful.

Apply the same professional standards to social media communications as you would for any other business communication, so always check for typos, obvious factual errors, or misspellt names.

Answer all comments within a reasonable time limit, eg two working days. Always be friendly, helpful, polite and professional.

Keep up to date with trending topics, and incorporate them into your news items.

Use a tool like Hootsuite to preschedule Facebook updates and tweets for a time when your audience will be online but you may not be.

Encourage feedback and comments from users. You can reuse any positive user generated content in future advertising or on your website.

Measure activity on your social sites, as you would with any marketing or promotional activity, and use the results to drive future campaigns or projects, or to determine how much time you invest in social media as a business.

Add a Facebook ‘like’ button to your company website, remember each new like is a powerful recommendation for your product or service.

Social media for small and micro businesses – DON’T

Don’t be boring, self-promoting, irrelevant or repetitive.

Never leave posts unanswered, even if they are negative. One of the most frustrating things for a customer is an unanswered complaint or question.

Don’t post 20 times in the first fortnight then neglect your site for a month. People will lose interest and your hard work will be wasted. Create a realistic schedule and stick to it (use a tool like Hootsuite to preschedule your tweets/posts).

Don’t rush to create a company presence on every single social media site, think quality not quantity.

Don’t spend all your time just retweeting or sharing other people’s content. It’s more effective if you add your own expert opinion, comment or analysis.

Never post in haste or you will repent at leisure… A sloppily written, rude or incorrect tweet or Facebook post will leave a bad impression on your customers, and if it has already been shared or retweeted, it will be virtually impossible to erase it completely from cyberspace – you have been warned!

What are your best and worst experiences of social media by businesses big and small?

Do you think social media for small & micro businesses is a waste of time? Or time well spent?

I would be really interested to hear your comments. And thank you to Susan Hoy and Antonio Abati for commenting on my post last week and giving me some fresh ideas for this week’s post.

Until next week, Emma.

Posted in Micro Business, Small Business, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Social media for small businesses – hit or miss?


A new survey by PeoplePerHour.com has revealed that a massive 91% of small businesses are now using social media for business purposes. This is up from a figure of 60% recorded in the previous year’s survey.  Businesses have reported using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for recruitment, marketing and finding new business. PeoplePerHour.com founder Xenios Thrasyvoulou says this demonstrates how Facebook has become an ‘increasingly crucial technology’ for business.

Does this mean you cannot succeed as a small or micro business today without a Facebook presence or regular tweets? The answer will of course depend on where your customers are likely to be spending their time. And equally whether you as a small business realistically have the time to devote to doing it properly.

Using Facebook or Twitter will not transform your bottom line overnight, but here are a few simple ways that social media could benefit your small or micro business…

  • Keep your existing customers up to date with your products and services, and ask for feedback on new offerings.
  • Enhance and improve your business’s reputation – by interacting with your customers in a positive and helpful way.
  • Give your business a personal touch by introducing the names and faces behind the logo, remember that customers like to buy from people they know, so send out content which lets customers get to know the philosophy and values behind your business.
  • Promote your business to a wider audience. The internet offers an almost infinite number of potential new ‘word of mouth’ customers. Every time a customer chooses to share or like your content, they are promoting your business for you!
  • Encourage and invite customers to comment on your content – each positive comment, retweet or ‘like’ is a free piece of advertising.
  • Carry out customer polls on your Facebook page, and publish or tweet the results as an interesting news story.
  • Build customer loyalty with special offers and discounts.
  • Network with other like-minded businesses.
  • Try it out for free! It takes time to build up a Facebook or Twitter following, but it doesn’t cost anything to try it out…

Next week… Social media: small business dos and don’ts.

Posted in Micro Business, Small Business, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Welcome to Amberweb’s business blog

I have been working in publishing for nearly 20 years now as a writer, editorial manager, knowledge manager, social media & web editor, sub-editor and proofreader… And I wanted to set up this blog to share my thoughts, knowledge and tips about how to create and share high-quality content on the web and in print. Also, to share my thoughts on running your own micro business and equally importantly, being a working mum to two lovely children!

I hope you find Amberweb’s new blog to be a useful source of tips and information about creating and sharing high-quality content. Please do leave any comments and feedback!

You can find out more about Amberweb on Facebook.

Emma

Posted in Welcome, Working Mums | 2 Comments