Writing

Definitions and capitalization

The following are general guidelines for most use cases across our organization.

There are certain cases in which we may deviate slightly to align with specific platform terminology (i.e. Facebook Page vs. Facebook personal profile) or to remain consistent with other in-app product language.

Product language

Company name

Use “Sprout Social” on first mention, then “Sprout” any time thereafter.

Never abbreviate.

Features vs. platform vs. tools

The hierarchy, from highest level down to most granular, is as follows: platform > product(s) > tool(s) / toolset(s) & workflows > features

In practice:

Sprout Social is a platform that consists of multiple products. Each product consists of tools* and workflows that contain specific features.

* A collection of tools should be referred to as a suite or toolset.

Software

Software is a word we might use to describe what we build and offer/sell as a company. It might also be used to talk about who we are: a software company.

But rarely would we use “software” in a more technical or product-specific context.

For example:

  • We wouldn’t say: “Log into the software.” Instead, we’d say: “Log into the platform.
  • However, we would say: “Sprout builds enterprise-grade software that is intuitive and user-friendly.”

Solutions

Our products ladder up to one or multiple solutions.

Today, those solutions include:

  • Social Management
  • Customer Care
  • Analytics & Social Listening
  • Advocacy & Influencers

Workflow

Features and tools that facilitate collaboration amongst team members and across multiple functional areas of the Sprout app should be referred to as a workflow.

Examples include:

  • Message Approval Workflow
  • Tagging Workflow
  • Tasking Workflow

Industry language

(Proper spelling, grammar and usage)

  • back end (noun), back-end (adjective)
  • beta
  • drop-down (noun, adjective), drop down (verb)
  • e-commerce (the industry)
  • email (never hyphenate, never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  • emoji (singular and plural)
  • front end (noun), front-end (adjective)
  • geolocation
  • hashtag
  • homepage
  • internet (never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  • login (noun, adjective), log in (verb)
  • Like (the social media activity)
  • online (never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
  • opt-in (noun, adjective), opt in (verb)
  • pop-up (noun, adjective), pop up (verb)
  • signup (noun, adjective), sign up (verb)
  • sync
  • tweet, retweet
  • username
  • URL
  • website
  • Wi-Fi

Brand vs. business

Often we use these words interchangeably, but in reality, they are different. And while it’s difficult to set black and white rules around their proper usage, it’s important to be as intentional with our word choices as possible.

When deciding between the two terms, consider the following:

  • Your audience:
    If you’re writing for marketers, you might use brand more often.

    If you’re writing for HR/legal/or another segment not specifically marketing, you might use business more often.

    Company also works, especially when referring to culture and hiring practices.

  • The context:
    Generally, when referring to the building, creating and marketing of a company’s lifestyle image, beliefs or reputation, use brand.

    When referring to the functional, inner workings and profits/profitability of a company, use business.

Additional considerations:

  • Avoid using both terms as a catch-all. Ie: brands and businesses
  • Company bridges both terms, and can be used interchangeably with either.
  • When referring to an agency, use agency or business.
  • When referring to a non-profit, use organization.
  • When referring to SMBs, use business.

Network vs. channel vs. platform

  • Channel is a means of marketing communication ie. digital, direct mail, mobile, social media, etc (Social IS a channel)
  • Within the channels are more specific platforms ie social media platforms include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Network should be used when referring to the wider group of people you interact with through your platforms

People vs. consumers vs. customers

It’s easy to treat the words ‘consumers,’ ‘people’ and ‘customers’ like synonyms, but Sprout distinguishes between the terms based on the broader context/meaning of a piece of content.

For example, while there are times when consumers makes sense, we encourage communicators to use people whenever suitable to remind us all of the humanity of our audiences.

Obviously, there are no hard and fast rules here. We only ask that you be thoughtful in your word choices.

In general:

  • Use people when discussing the thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors of an audience.
  • Use consumers when discussing an audience’s buying motivators and behaviors in relation to a brand.
    • Consumers generally denotes the buyers of enterprise B2C company products/services, or the audiences of agencies that serve those companies.
  • Use customers when referring to an audience that makes a purchase directly from the company in question
    • Customers generally denotes the buyers of B2B and (most) SMB/Corporate products/services.

Example: When you buy a box of Triscuits at Target…

  • To Triscuits, you are a consumer.
  • To Target, you are a customer.

Related terms:

  • Audience is also a suitable term to refer to a group of consumers that a brand is communicating with or trying to reach. They may or may not be existing customers.
  • Use community ONLY when referring to your existing customer base or existing social following.

profile, social profile

Used to talk about a profile on any social media network Avoid: handle, social handle, account, social account

Capitalization guide

Capitalized

  • Bots
  • Auto-Responses
  • Bots
  • Bot Builder
  • Call-to-Action
  • Chatbot(s)
  • Conversation Map
  • Persistent Menu
  • Quick Replies
  • Restart Command
  • Welcome Messages
  • Inbox
  • Activity Chart
  • Brand Keyword(s)
  • Collision Detection
  • Inbox Views
  • Smart Inbox
  • Tasks (when used to describe a feature; a unit of work is a task or tasks.)
  • Listening (Sprout tool/product)
  • Listener (Sprout tool/product)
  • Query Builder

Platform-specific terms

Note: We work inside platform style guidelines. If our rules conflict, use the platform’s rule.

  • Android
  • Bitly (not bit.ly or Bit.ly)
  • Direct Message
  • Facebook
  • Facebook Ad Account
  • Facebook Page
  • Facebook Personal Profile
  • Google
  • Google+
  • Google Analytics
  • Instagram
  • Instagram Business Profile
  • Instagram Profile
  • iOS
  • LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn Company Page
  • LinkedIn Personal Profile
  • Pin
  • Private Message
  • RSS
  • Retweet
  • Tweet
  • Twitter
  • Twitter Profile
  • UserVoice
  • Zendesk

Plans

  • Professional
  • Professional Plan
  • Advanced
  • Advanced Plan
  • Standard
  • Standard Plan
  • Standard
  • Standard Plan

Tools

  • Publishing
  • Asset Library
  • Compose
  • Calendar (when qualified as in social media calendar, publishing calendar, content calendar, use lowercase)
  • Content Suggestions (except for in navigation, which is Find Content)
  • Draft
  • Listening (Sprout tool/product)
  • List View
  • Month View
  • Needs Approval
  • Sprout Queue
  • Week View
  • ViralPost™

Reports

Note: for report names in a sentence, use “the” as in “Use the Engagement Report to…”

  • Engagement Report (not Engagement report. Apply this pattern for all reports)
  • Facebook Bots Report
  • Facebook Competitors Report
  • Facebook Pages Report
  • Google Analytics Report
  • Group Report
  • Instagram Competitors Report
  • Instagram Profiles Report
  • LinkedIn Pages Report
  • Sent Messages Report
  • Tag Report
  • Task Performance Report
  • Team Report
  • Trends Report
  • Twitter Bots Report
  • Twitter Comparison Report
  • Twitter Feedback Repot
  • Twitter Keyword Report
  • Twitter Profiles Report
  • Other
  • Help Center

Not capitalized

(Unless at the start of a sentence or used as a label/header)

  • alternative text (alt text on second mention or on controls)
  • billing
  • boost/boost post (verb/action)
  • browser extension
  • emoji
  • engagement
  • filter
  • impressions
  • listening/listened (verb)
  • mention
  • message
  • network
  • permission
  • plan
  • post
  • profile
  • publishing / published (verb)
  • reach
  • report(s) (noun, talking about a group of reports - not navigation)
  • reporting / reported (verb)
  • tag, tagging
  • task(s) (as a unit of work, not the feature Tasks).
  • team
  • user(s)

Examples:

Save time creating content by scheduling and publishing photos directly from Sprout with Instagram Publishing.

Cover the entire publishing process.

Visualize your publishing calendar.

Social listening tools for business

Tap into the world’s largest and most diverse focus group: social media. Access deep insights that drive your brand forward using Sprout’s social listening solutions.

Easily build and access Listener dashboards.

Learn more about Sprout’s Advanced Listening product.

When we talk to people about listening (ah, the irony), we usually get two questions back. Question #1: What’s the difference between monitoring and listening?