5 Common Phrases You’re Probably Misusing Online
As a professional copywriter, I encounter so many websites, bios, product descriptions and menus that could benefit from tightened-up copy. I always stress to my clients that using ALL the big words in one copy block kills brand relatability. No one wants to fight through piles of unnecessary words to get to the actual point you’re trying to make. For example, I’ve abandoned many a shopping cart after getting the sense that everything was slapped together the night before in order to secure the bag.
In the social media world, engagement rules supreme. You want to make sure that people are engaging for positive reasons, right? Good copy is punchy and flavorful. It communicates your ask in a stylish way that piques a potential customer’s interest enough for them to say “Hey! I’d love to learn more!” What happens, though, when you rely too heavily on turns of phrase, idioms, and clichés as filler text to beef up your online chatter?
The engagement quality is likely affected. People probably aren’t double tapping your pics as quickly because they’re busy screenshotting the drawn-out caption on your post that’s full of errors, and your coins might shift from a steady flow to a slow drip as a result.
A sprinkling of clichés here and there isn’t terrible, especially in online customer interactions. Sometimes our words just require a bit more seasoning, and it’s natural to throw one in occasionally. What you WON’T be out here doing, though, is misusing some of the most basic phrases incorrectly. The people are always watching your branded and personal accounts, so don’t get caught slipping.
Let’s start with the top five misused phrases that I notice in everyday social media conversations:
“Taken for granted”- So often I see “taken for granite.” Like...a type of ROCK. The phrase when used correctly actually means that feelings of indifference are observed in relation to a person or thing.
“Couldn’t care less”- Social media is full of people who “could care less,” but what they’re accidentally saying is that they DO still care on some level. Using the incorrect version says that there’s still a lower level of care that you can descend to. Using “couldn’t” means that you’ve already reached that limit and have nothing left to pay a situation or person besides dust.
“All intents and purposes”- I see “all intensive purposes” a lot, but what about the non-intensive kind? They need love too! Used correctly, this phrase acts as a catch-all to refer to all intended uses and goals. Think of it as a phrase that gives a nod to all practicalities.
“Could’ve/ Should’ve/ Would’ve”- These contractions mean “_____ have.” As in, “I should have set my alarm last night, because now I’m running late.” Although it sounds like the word “of” is part of the mix, remember that “of” is an indication of relationship. Think of it as a reference to something being part of a whole if that helps.
“To each his own”- Used correctly, the phrase confirms that each person has a right to their personal preferences. To keep things gender-neutral, you might also see “To each their own” as well. An “it” can’t have a personal preference since the word is typically used as a descriptor of something inanimate, so saying “to each its own” in reference to people would be incorrect.
Did any of these surprise you?
Wanna talk about it?
Head straight for those comments and let’s get to it!