Twitter is a terrific micro-blogging platform that allows users to send 140 character messages to each other and the world. This form of social media allows for vast amounts of information to be sent in short bursts, but can also be a disaster for a user that may be new to the site. Even the most experienced “tweeters” (including yours truly) have made a few faux-pas here and there.
Here are some helpful tidbits on how to tweet responsibly:
- If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.
It’s the age-old saying that your mother always told you growing up, and the same goes when tweeting on Twitter. In some cases, saying something nasty or mean-spirited about anyone or anything can result in retribution or termination of a career. Two years ago, MSNBC’s Helen Popkin wrote about a recent hire at Cisco who tweeted about the thought of having to do miserable work for a “fatty paycheck”. Not surprising, the higher-ups at Cisco quickly found out. The tweeter has since made his future tweets private, and no word as to whatever happened to his position at Cisco.
- Be judicious about what you tweet.
Twitter is great for sharing personal information, but sometimes we don’t need to know everything that goes on in your daily life. For example, in my senior year of college, I linked my Foursquare to my Twitter account to document where I was going all day on Twitter. Within a few days, a few of my closest friends and followers threatened to un-follow, so I quickly ended that exercise.
It’s probably not best to make light of a serious situation on Twitter unless you want the entire virtual world to harass you. During the height of the Egyptian revolution Kenneth Cole sent out this infamous tweet that caused a wave of controversy, and ultimately an apology from the fashion designer himself. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted tasteless tweets about the Japan Disaster were not only ill-timed, but caused him to lose his job as the spokesman for Aflac.
- If all else fails, make your account private.
If you don’t want to censor your own thoughts and you’re not interested in cleaning up what you have to say, make your Twitter account private. You’ll only be sharing information with people you trust and that you grant a follow to. You’ll still be able to get tweets from any source on the planet, but if anyone wants to hear what you have to say, they’ll need to get permission from you. If you’re tweeting for a company you should tweet what they have to say, not your own thoughts. If you’re a casual user who doesn’t want to get called out, this might be the best route for you.
Twitter is a wonderful tool for sharing information, but it can work against even the most seasoned users.
What other tips, tricks, and bits of advice can you offer for someone who’s either a newbie to Twitter or a constant tweeter?