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Chances are good that you’ve made a grammar mistake at some point on your social media or blog. You might have even been trolled about it, which is embarrassing and, in some cases, can mess with your branding. Using simple processes can actually help you prevent grammar errors so you can avoid the whole ordeal.
Today we are talking to Celeste Mora, the social media manager at Grammarly. Celeste has helped Grammarly grow its social media following tremendously by effectively sharing engaging content that reflects the company’s core values. Tune in today so you can learn how to avoid grammar mistakes, hone your processes, and boost your social media following.
Some of the highlights of the show include:
Nathan: Have you ever been trolled because you made a grammar mistake on your social media or in your content? I’ve definitely been there. It turns out simple processes can not only help you prevent those mistakes from publishing but help you become more efficient at the same time. That’s why you and I are chatting with Celeste Mora today.
She’s the social media manager at Grammarly. Celeste has helped Grammarly grow their Facebook following to 7,000,000 likes. She’s also grown their Instagram following well into six figures in a little under a year. She’s done it by effectively sharing engaging content that reflects a core set of values at Grammarly.
I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and this is the Actionable Marketing Podcast. I’m excited for you to learn how to avoid grammar mistakes, hone your processes, and boost your social media following with Celeste. Let’s check it out!
Hey Celeste! Thanks so much for being on the podcast today.
Celeste: Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Yes, I’m excited to talk to you. We’re big fans of Grammarly here at CoSchedule. I was wondering if we could start by that. Tell me about Grammarly and a bit about what you do there.
Celeste: Any listeners who don’t know, Grammarly is the intelligent writing app that helps you write flawlessly wherever you type. I am their social media manager. I do all things social media, a little bit of content, and then also working on some community management stuff right now.
Nathan: Grammarly is all about flawless stuff, like you’re just saying flawless writing. I was wondering can you give me a few of the most common grammar fails that you’ve seen? How can we prevent them?
Celeste: It’s interesting. We look at what the most common mistakes are in our product from time to time, and they’re pretty consistent over time. It seems people have the same issues no matter the time of year or who they are. A lot of those stem around a couple of things.
First is whether you should put spaces in between words. An example here is anywhere or nowhere. Some people think those are two words. They’re actually one. There’s several words like that: anybody, nobody – that kind of thing where putting a space in the middle actually changes the meaning of the word. Same with hyphenated words. People seem to have a lot of trouble with when to hyphenate, when not to hyphenate, when you should just use a completely different word.
The other thing is commas, always commas. People don’t know where to put them. I don’t know where to put them. They’re hard.
Nathan: I think you’ve built a tool to help people solve those problems. Am I right?
Celeste: Yeah, definitely. Especially commas. Grammarly is very good about telling you, “You don’t need that comma” or “you should put one here.”
Nathan: Something that’s interesting about Grammarly is that you’ve just released some data on the best times to write to avoid grammar mistakes like that. Could you just share with me what you discovered?
Celeste: Yeah. We looked across our product data and looked at what time people were writing in their local time, and found, especially for social media and email and things that marketers do a lot, writing in the morning – really early morning like 4:00 – 8:00AM local time – is the best time as far as grammar mistakes go. If you write at night, you’re way more likely to make a mistake.
Nathan: Celeste, you mentioned that you are working on the social media side at Grammarly. I was wondering if you could give me the lowdown on the social media strategy you execute at Grammarly.
Celeste: For us, since I’m a one-person team with a fairly large audience, it’s all about efficiency and making sure that we’re achieving outsized results with way fewer resources, which I think is true for many social teams even if you have a few more people. Efficiency for me comes down to what’s the minimum, viable social media effort that will get the most engagement, and that’s always the mode I’m in. We do occasionally recycle content, reuse content, and that is because that gives us the greatest ROI as far as engagement versus effort.
Tone wise, we really try to focus on betterment and empowerment of our writers in English while still trying to keep some kind of a witty and funny edge. People tend to notice the witty, funny part, and we really are trying to focus on making people feel good about their writing. That’s definitely a large part of the framework for choosing content for us.
Nathan: Something I want to talk to you about is social media grammar fails. I’m sure you’ve seen a couple doing what you’re doing. Can you fill me in on some of your favorite social media writing fails?
Celeste: This is a pet passion project of mine is tracking this and remembering them because I think they’re funny, but I think a lot of social media folks, since we’re moving so fast, it can be very easy to make mistakes. I was looking through some of my catalogue, and there were so many “your,” “you’re” fails on various promoted tweets and those sorts of things that I couldn’t even pick one. There were just a ton.
We seem to have some trouble over going fast, but a bigger issue often with brands is not understanding the hashtags or the words that they’re using. People get in trouble for that, little bit more on the serious side, but like Domino’s, the #WhyIStayed debacle, is an example of that. People looks at the hashtag, read it, saw something, and then didn’t look for greater meaning, and just rolled with it. It’s an important reminder for us all to look beyond the word, think about meaning – that kind of thing.
Nathan: What advice might you have for someone looking at using hashtags? How can they make sure that they don’t end up in that same boat as Domino’s?
Celeste: Before we jump on a trending hashtag, we always go and look at where the tweets are coming from, what the sentiment is around that hashtag, and really dive into where it came from, which is a little bit more due diligent than some folks might want to do, but we’re very interested in doing some research before we write something off the cuff.
Nathan: That seems really smart to me and ties into avoiding mistakes in general. Something that I wanted to talk to you about was, especially with your position at Grammarly, I want to know how you avoid grammar mistakes in your social messages?
Celeste: This comes with a caveat. We have made some errors in the past, and our audience is more than happy to point those out when they happen. But we put a lot of systems in place to try to prevent that.
First thing is, this may seem obvious, but everybody at Grammarly has Grammarly turned on at all times. We only use social media platforms that worked with Grammarly; most of them do luckily so that’s not an issue, but I have that turned on at all times. And then after that, I have a human copy editor who goes through and reads everything that I write, every tweet, everything. That’s just because it’s a big branding issue for us if we have anything that’s incorrect, and we think it’s worth the extra two minutes to have a second set of eyes on something.
Nathan: I think that’s true not even just for a brand that has a product like what you’re doing but for any company out there, grammar is a very important part of consistency and quality.
Celeste: Yeah. Definitely. We’ve seen through our research that the shorter form writing you’re doing, the more mistakes you’ll make. What that means is people don’t make that many mistakes in longer blogs because they’ll have somebody go through and look at it or they’ll have something like Grammarly turned on, but in a tweet, they’re way more likely to make a true mistake, confusing word – that kind of thing.
Nathan: I know your content is super engaging. I was wondering if you could share some tips on how you write really engaging social media messages.
Celeste: The first thing I have to give a shout out to is – we have a dedicated social media and content designer, her name is Elena. She is awesome. If you see any hand-lettering things that we do, that’s all her. I think that’s helped us a lot is being a design powerhouse on social specifically and recognizing some of the lower meme trends and jumping on those. Then as far as written content is concerned, I think a lot of work can be done around gauging what the sentiment is in your audience in general and then making sure that you’re meeting their needs on an emotional level. An example of this: after the election, there were a lot of feels on the internet, and Grammarly posted a lot of very supportive, motivational kinds of content to try to show our users that our brand is still here to correct your writing no matter what happens, and I think people appreciated that.
Nathan: That connects into the humor side that you were talking about. You guys do a really good job about entertaining with your content that you’re sharing. Could you share a little bit about that?
Celeste: A lot of humor is emotional honesty as well. We play into some of the grammar nerds’ frustrations around people making a lot of mistakes or being careless about mistakes but we also just make a lot of puns and various types of humor that distract you from anything going on in your life that may not be so fun. It plays into the same pool of skills, but with a joking tone.
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Nathan: You know Celeste, something that I wanted to talk to you about was that Grammarly has 7,000,000 likes on Facebook. That’s a huge number. What are some of the top few things that you’ve done to help influence that growth?
Celeste: The first thing is we’ve been on Facebook for a really long time for a brand. We got in very early, and we cultivated a niche of grammar and language lovers very, very early. That was probably the thing that was most key to our first million and then some of the momentum after that. Now, we focus on making sure that we’re getting in early to all of the things that Facebook is doing. We do instant articles. We’ve done a live video – and being relentless about whether after we test something, if it doesn’t work, we retire it. Then we try the next thing, and then very systematically move through a testing process on social.
Nathan: How have you learned what works and what doesn’t?
Celeste: I’m sure a lot of people would say it’s a lot of trial and error, but we look not only at the engagement metrics on newer types of contents but we’ll look into the comment and see what people are saying about it. A lot of times that is telling us how our audience is reacting even more than our number of shares because if there’s a lot of negative things going on in the comments, then maybe they don’t like that GIF or short form video or image or something like that. We also do look at other social leaders in our space and see what they’re doing and try out some of that content with our stuff. It’s no secret that Goodreads and Grammarly love to share each other’s content, and that helps us test new things.
Nathan: I know another big story for you guys has been you helping grow Grammarly’s Instagram following. I know when you started, there were like 3000 or something like that Instagram followers, and now you’re well over six figures. How did you do that?
Celeste: Instagram is a little bit of a different story than Facebook. We didn’t have a huge Instagram presence about a year ago, and then I came in. We were looking for new channels to expand to that weren’t named Facebook, not that Facebook isn’t important. It’s very important, but I saw that we had great design, great imagery going, and thought Instagram will be a natural fit for us because we have a lot of great things happening in the image department. That ended up being true. It’s about finding what channels have the right functionality and the right tone and community for your content and your business.
Nathan: Something you just mentioned there was “community.” I was wondering. How do you reward positive community members?
Celeste: This is something we’re working on right now. We’re really trying to focus our community on empowering each other to write better, whether you write as a profession or you write for fun.
For a sneak preview, for Grammar Day this year, which is coming up on Saturday, we are launching an awareness campaign about grammar trolling and reminding people to be gentle when they correct their friends on Facebook and elsewhere because we may have done a bit of trolling in our past. We want to make sure that people are writing correctly, but also not encouraging negative kinds of behavior on social.
Nathan: Do you know, Celeste, the last time we chatted, you mentioned you love process at Grammarly. Why is process important?
Celeste: Since we have a very small team and we’re constantly trying to achieve very outsized results, process becomes very important for us to create a lot of content very quickly. It’s a scalability issue as well as an efficiency thing. I know some people are not such fans of process, and I don’t believe in process constricting creativity, but when it comes to true production mode – once you have an idea and you need to make a hundred images or something, that’s when process becomes really important. You have clear hand-off [00:15:27 pads]. We also coordinate process across two offices per content production, and so it becomes important to have everything documented and everybody on the same page.
Nathan: I want to circle back on National Grammar Day. How did you choose that project or what have you done with that? What sort of process have you used to make that a success?
Celeste: I should caveat this with: we don’t know if it’s a success yet, but we always do something pretty big for National Grammar Day. It’s our favorite holiday of the year. Last year, we did a big study about celebrity grammar on Twitter, and this year, we’re trying to focus on a more PSA focused approach. How we approached that campaign was what issues around grammar do we really care about this year, what’s happening, and then where can Grammarly help people feel more empowered to write more flawlessly everywhere. We felt the most empowering thing to do is encourage people to stop berating others about their grammar, for lack of a better term. That’s how we approach it: What’s happening, how can we help, and move from there.
Nathan: Yeah, definitely. It seems to connect into your values, too. Like you were saying, what are some of Grammarly’s values?
Celeste: Our values make a very fun acronym, it’s called EAGER, but we are committed to living our values not just putting them up on the wall. We have them on the wall and took them down because the symbolism was a little too much. Our values are: we believe in empathy, and so a lot of our content comes from that perspective where we’re empathetic to the needs of people who are writing in English, whether they are native speakers, non-native speaker, anywhere in between. We have a strong ethics component. Another one is adaptability; we’re always rolling with the punches. Grit, which I think is a pretty common start-up value, but with a really small team, it’s extra important for us. The last one sometimes is a black box for people, but it’s “remarkability,” which means we’re always learning and growing. That’s the culture we’ve cultivated here, but it also translates into our content.
Nathan: Something that piggybacks off of that is some of the other processes that you’ve put into play. I’m wondering. Could you give me a few other examples of processes that helped you execute on those values efficiently?
Celeste: Once we come up with a content that we think is fulfilling a real and present need on social, often, we’ll say we want a video for this. Video is something a lot of people are doing, but it’s also something that’s hard to scale and keep cost effective. We have a very set process, where we have somebody write a script, we do a table read, we set up a shoot, we run the shoot in less than two hours usually on-site with just two people, and then we ship it to an editor, get edits back, it goes through an edit cycle, and then it ships. Our video process is very regimented just so we keep cost down and keep things moving through.
Kind of a similar thing for images, although it has fewer steps; it’s more write and copy, create an image, and move through that way. Then as far as campaign creation, we have a brainstorm process. We all get in a room. We have somebody who’s done a lot of research on what the needs are. We come up with ideas to meet those needs. It’s a design-thinking approach to brainstorming.
Nathan: For someone who’s new to this, what’s your best advice for marketers who are looking to build their presence on social media? Where should they focus first?
Celeste: When you are first getting started on social media, you really need to do your research. You need to be on the platforms. You can’t choose a channel because Facebook owns the world or because everybody is doing Twitter. You need to think about what the needs are on different networks and how they’re structured and where you can really add value.
I say this a lot internally, but I think it resonates outside of Grammarly, but like very few people deeply care about your brand, unless you’re already a household name. If you are just starting out, you probably aren’t. You need to think about how your brand can help them and focus on being empathetic with your target customer because that’s, at the end of the day, all that really matters.
Nathan: Alright, Celeste. Thanks so much. I think that was really great advice. It was fun to talk to you about building a presence on social media, and I like the side caveat about your values. That was a lot of fun. Thank you.
Celeste: Pleasure to be on. And also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we are hiring, so if you like our values, go to Grammarly.com/jobs and check it out! Thanks.
Nathan: From all of the research we’ve done at CoSchedule, the more emotional the content you share, the bigger your engagement will be. It makes a lot of sense that Celeste’s approach of sharing messages of betterment, empowerment, and humor has been so successful for Grammarly.
Celeste, thank you so much for sharing your advice on this episode of the Actionable Marketing Podcast. Thanks to you too for checking out this episode. If you want to learn more, you can check out this episode’s show notes and full transcript at coschedule.com/podcast. As a listener, you also get 30 free days of CoSchedule to organize your social media and marketing process. Sign up at coschedule.com/actionable to get organized now.
Alright friends! I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I will catch you on the next episode.
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