Pause Before You Tweet

Last week, KitchenAid had a twitter catastrophe. On Friday, StubHub had a moment of their own. In both cases someone sent out a personal tweet under the company account.

Now, this is very easy to do. I tweet for myself, Sisters in Crime New England, and StageSource. I use Hootsuite to maintain some semblance of control over my Twitter universe. But once in a while, I will tweet something as StageSource that should have been from SinCNE, or vice versa. But, while a tweet about Tace Baker’s new book coming from StageSource doesn’t make sense, it isn’t destructive to our brand per se. Because I save the snark for real life.

I talk to my students about this all the time, but now is a good moment to have this conversation again. Never, ever write something you wouldn’t say over a loud speaker. In a packed football stadium. Don’t put it in an email. And definitely don’t put it out on social media. There is no privacy. Don’t assume that there is, no matter what your security settings say.

Additionally, be the person you want to be on social media. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I love theater, I teach, I write, I read. I occasionally run. You may be able to tell what my political leanings are, but only by seeing who I am RTing during debates. You don’t know if I am single or in a relationship. You don’t know the name of my nieces and nephews. You know a lot, but not everything. You know what I want you to know.

Now, Twitter is a great tool for conversation. I have made some great connections through these conversations. But it is very public. So is email for that matter. So if I want a conversation to be private, I make a phone call. If I need to rant, I ask for a coffee date. But on social media? I try to keep it positive. These days I have so many balls in the air, I am constantly asking myself “do I care if the wrong person sees this?” If the answer is yes, I edit.

It is a crazy, exciting social media highway out there. Just drive safely.

10 thoughts on “Pause Before You Tweet

  1. I’ve said this to my kids on more than one occasion with Facebook. If you can’t stand on your neighborhood corner and tell this to every person who walks by, why are you saying it at all?
    I admire honesty and openness. Unfortunately, many confuse openness with ridiculous and dramatic displays of dysfunction. It’s like bad reality TV and leaves you wondering why that person isn’t getting professional help. LOL
    Everybody has bad moments, but a little restraint and careful consideration is called for! I tend to ask myself several questions before I hit that post button: “Who will this offend? Is there any other way these words can be interpreted and if so, are you williing to accept that?” “Are you willing to own this comment in the future?” For many people, however, there seems to be a disconnect between the real world and their social media self – they don’t really see what they post as existing in anything other than some false parallel timeline.
    And, if I’m feeling honey badger-ish, that’s the best time to resist posting something, because emotions can take over our rational selves. It’s easy for any of us to have one or two OOPS moments, but on a regular basis, it can do damage.
    Excellent point to bring up!

  2. Great post and advice! Can’t be said enough. And I might add that phone calls eliminate that filtered voice in the other person’s head interpreting my written words incorrectly. Many sentences can have multiple meanings depending on how it’s said.

  3. One of the problems is that companies sometimes delegate the Twitter account to an inexperienced staff member on the grounds that they’re a ‘digital native’. The danger here lies in that word ‘inexperienced’.

    Another problem is that the company’s social media strategy may not be clearly defined, so the Twitter-er is unclear what it’s OK to say.

    Typical problems include (a) making political comments from a company account, without due consideration and (b) using a company account to share chitchat or social engagements.

  4. What a great post and with concerns raised that are important in this day and age. Having chatted to a teacher last year it turns out kids with Facebook accounts, (though the age limit states they must be over 18 to have an account), end up being cyber-bullied. Keeping things positive is a good point especially in a world which is full of negatives. The thing that has put me off social media for so long is that I’m not interested to read that someone is drying their hair, or spending the night in with a glass of wine.

    I also run a couple of twitter accounts – one for voluntary work and my own and I remember feeling I needed to really read up and research marketing and how to use social media effectively. I have found that in companies where Older people are in management they prefer to leave new tech to younger people in the company to do, often without guidelines on what they should and should not say!! I now get emails from Social Media Examiner which have been a great help to me as I continue to send out tweets. However, this post has reminded me that I should be passing on my learning to a couple of newbies who post to the voluntary work twitter account. Thanks!

  5. I agree with you right off the bat! Not just with Twitter but Facebook, Linkdin, or any other social media, even Pinterest. I have to think about what people are seeing and reading. Could this one thing possibly destroy mine or someone else’s reputation? It’s not even about that, but putting people’s career’s on the line. It’s a scary place to be when the world is that much bigger.

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