Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

When is it OK to swear in blog posts and on social media?

You know that a post filled with just foul language could have been my response here, right?

But foul language doesn’t belong on this blog. I can make my point without it. And it’s not like I haven’t been around my share of cursing. I did grow up as a football player, you know.

WTH headlines are common. Yes, that’s cursing. So are other acronyms. Using words that are similar to cursing but not quite the right words is still swearing.

I won’t name any names or point fingers here, but I’m seeing more and more cursing happening out there on blog posts and on social media. Maybe it’s how people talk offline, too. If that’s the case, I applaud them for being authentic offline and online. For me, cursing in copy can usually be eliminated and doesn’t add much to my stories. They are extra words that can be cut for the most part.

So, why are we seeing more cursing in blog posts, and when should we curse, if ever? At least I’m perceiving there to be more. Sometimes I even see it from established brands. OMG (that’s not swearing, right?). It’s probably just an evolution of language and what’s accepted – even if not by all.

I did ask my social media friends about when it’s OK to swear. You can see their responses at the bottom of this post. They ranged from:

  • Never
  • Do it if your audience does it
  • If it’s you, go ahead
  • Do it occasionally

That’s the beautiful thing about social media and blogging. Everyone can have their own opinion, and others can either like it or not like it. Now, we have seen people get attacked by digital lynch mobs, but perhaps those cases will decrease over time. Interestingly, digital lynch mobs (in my perception) often use foul language.

It’s a personal brand decision, for sure, and it might even help some brands to swear. If their audiences appreciate it, it’s good for them. In general, I don’t see any room for cursing in my blog posts – at all. It doesn’t make the story any stronger. If I want to highlight something, I might bold it in the sentence. I know, living on the wild side, right? 🙂

What might be worse than excessive cursing in blog posts? When people want to show they are cursing but are using this technique:

“And then this $*%@ …”

If you do decide that cursing is for you, at least say what you want to say. But I most likely won’t reshare your content.

Social media discussion on cussing

cursing 1

comments from facebook on cursing

It might get some brands some short-term attention, but if it’s not the brand it won’t last and won’t attract the right people anyway.

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Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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