— Han Nguyen (@hanseldee) May 30, 2012
Mitt Romney finally secured the Republican nomination for president after six years of persistent campaigning, only to have the news cycle overshadowed by a silly typo in his new mobile app. To the delight of the Twittersphere, and the 24-hour news cycle it fuels, anyone downloading this app could overlay a photo with the slogan “A Better Amercia.” I think this is a silly mistake, and probably the result of outsourcing development, but anyone watching the fallout can’t deny this spread like wildfire sucking the oxygen out of Romney attaining 1,144 delegates.
Of course, this wasn’t a tweet, but politicians make mistakes all too often (cough Weiner cough). A new website called Politwoops was designed to catch precisely these mishaps. Their slogan is “sure, we all tweet things we don’t mean to share, but now politicians have no way to hide them. Discover tweets that your politicians shared and then promptly deleted.”
The most common suggestion I’ve received for a rule on this site is: check for spelling errors. I thought that was too silly to bother mentioning, but after Amercia became a meme in a matter of hours, I agree it is worth remembering. Professionalism and (borderline excessive) risk-aversion are the hallmarks of any respectable campaign.
As writer/editor @AlanEggleston notes, “most easily recognized words are missed.” You might think it’s important to check less familiar words, but in reality you are most likely to mess up those you use most often.
@Angie_Coiro wisely quips “we see the expected and miss the unexpected.” She points to the famous “Paris in the the Spring” illusion where most people don’t see the error in the image to the right.
In the case of Amercia, there is also the notable ability of people to read jumbled words with ease. For example, arocdnicg to rsceearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer are in the rghit pcale.
Phrasing can also be problematic, as shown in the tweet above. Mitt Romney promised that he will work for opportunities for “Americans to hunt, shoot, and protect their families” if elected. Oops. Dependent clauses are particularly susceptible to misinterpretation, but thanks to the length of tweets there is no reason to ever use them. Maintain an active voice and present tense to remain interesting.
In short, read over every tweet at least twice, or preferably thrice, before sending. Check common words, multiple uses of articles, jumbled letters, dependent clauses, and awkward phrasings. Once you click Tweet, especially if you’re a political campaign, any error will be out there forever.