Does AP Style matter in 140 characters?

Social media needs a style sheriff, but who’s the best to govern the land?

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Social media is traditionally fast, loose and style-free. Some businesses have adopted their own methods of dealing with grammatical idiosyncrasies, but others simply let the interns fire out whatever they come up with.

For business, social media represents a sort of lawless frontier town. It’s an exciting place to be until somebody smashes up the saloon and you have no sheriff.

If you want to maintain a uniform voice for messaging in the social media sphere, you’re going to need a style sheriff. The question is, “who can do it?” The Associated Press stepped up in June with a list of 42 new guidelines to govern social media writing, but its traditional rules won’t allow for the casual writing often found on social media sites.

Obviously you want to avoid typos and other grievous literary felonies. But writing for social media should have a measure of flexibility built in. Style guidelines like AP are perfectly logical for print journalism but tacking on social media guidelines seems to miss the point that social media is not monolithic.

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