Is soz – or any slang – appropriate for brands to use?

This morning the official Twitter feed for the Victoria Line in London @victorialine, sent the following tweet “Hi all, just a quick chirp to let you know Victoria line is all good this morning. Soz about yesterday! Hope your commute/journeys go well.”

victorialineWhen I saw the tweet, the use of the word ‘soz’ surprised me, particularly given the fact hundreds if not thousands of commuters, my husband included, had battled to get home last night because the Victoria Line was suspended between Warren Street and Brixton.

The reason? Wet concrete had flooded a signal control room. You can read the background to the story here via the BBC website.

Whoever was tweeting from @victorialine yesterday did a great job during the disruption, keeping customers updated and answering questions.

It’s a credit to Transport for London, TfL, that the line was back up and running again this morning – how did they do that?! That’s a story I’d love to read about, as I’m sure my household wasn’t the only one where such a discussion took place last night.

So what was a negative story, had been turned around due to the reopening, and they had even tweeted to apologise this morning: 

Then they decided to issue the soz tweet. It has since been deleted, but I had screen grabbed it when I saw it – as I’d had a feeling it may vanish. 

The response from commuters included:

The Victoria Line account responded to @JoeInfinity’s tweet above to apologise:

I spent yesterday leading a social media workshop for the comms team of a charity in Northampton, and as part of our discussion we talked about appropriate use of language and tone of voice.

We talked about slang and whether there’s ever an appropriate time to use it. I highlighted two examples I’ve written about via my blog – O2 and Tesco when they had a “tweet-off” and used street slang.

I encourage people to write conversationally, to help build and maintain relationships online and show the human side of the brand. In the words of Euan Semple, @euan, – organisations don’t tweet, people do.

I often advise people to write in informal style – e.g. saying “sorry” is perfectly acceptable, particularly as “apologies for any inconvenience caused” is not only formal, but takes up a lot of characters when you only have 140 to work with via Twitter.

The sincerity of the apology tweet from @Victorialine to @JoeInfinity  is clear. The fact the original tweet was deleted suggests to me that it was regretted.

It got me thinking and I wanted to know what comms pros think about slang after seeing the use of “soz” today, so I tweeted my network to ask.

You can see their responses below. I think the point from Dana Leeson about ESL (English as second language) is a particularly good one.

What do you think? What role does slang or informal language play? You’re welcome to comment below or tweet me @AllthingsIC.


Further reading: What being on Twitter for five years has taught me

Here’s the Storify of comments:

On 24 January 2014 @Victorialine, the official Twitter feed from the Victoria Line of the London Underground tweeted an apology following disruption on 23 January and chose to use the word ‘soz’ in it.


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