Editor’s Note: We’re continuing our 7 Deadly Sins of Twitter Admins series helping you avoid cringe worthy Twitter faux pas. Read our first part on lust and the terrible things our desire for more followers drives us to do. This week’s post comes from guest writer, Sean Lunsford.
Twitter can be a daunting endeavor to start, and it’s equally challenging to continue. The constant stream of tweets generated by a world full of Twitter users makes for a frenetic pace, and social media workers may well find it hard to keep up. Thankfully, we’re usually not the only ones with a message. Others who share our views or touch on the topics we hold dear provide continuous input into the ongoing dialogue that is social media. Contrary to what our teachers told us, copying is actually good in this realm. The judicious use of quotes and retweets gets our message out to a wider audience and shows those who already follow us that we’re invested and listening to what others are saying. Be careful what you’re quoting or retweeting, though. There are a few pitfalls that stem from being lazy about how you curate your Twitter presence, and they can land your organization (or even you) in a thorny place that’s difficult to get out of.
Always read any link embedded in a tweet, to ensure you know what it’s saying and the tone of the site in general before passing it along. One person may indeed share your organization’s views, and post something on their website or Facebook page you’d love your followers to see. However, they might also hold views on another topic that are quite counter to your organization’s. Any viewer who clicks through from something you retweeted or quoted could continue to browse around that site, and find something you may later wish they hadn’t.
Be sure to vet the sources and veracity of any information linked to in a tweet. Your Executive Director or CEO wouldn’t be amused that you helped spread a rumor online that originated from a blogger with no connection to the people, places or things discussed. Passing along bogus information tarnishes the credibility of your organization, and most organizations survive on the basis of their reputation. Unfortunately, most people forget the “media” part of social media. We need to hold ourselves to a high standard because we’re not just representing ourselves, we’re representing people and institutions that have worked hard to get where they are.
Finally, be wary of getting in the middle of a heated debate. A personal example: I’d heard second hand reports about an agency’s negative dealings with the LGBT community, but when I read a statement from the organization denouncing such interactions as being the work of isolated individuals who weren’t representing the organization at large, I chose to share it in the hopes of fostering greater goodwill for this organization. (As someone involved with groups that serve the underserved, I’m always looking to promote good works in the hopes of benefitting the greater community of social service agencies.) What I didn’t realize was this particular organization has been struggling with this very issue for years, with increasing animosity on both sides. In this instance, I was speaking as myself and not as an agent of some organization, so I can take personal responsibility for the message and any possible consequences it might bring. However, when representing your group it’s probably best to steer clear of such hot topics.
Keeping your tweets “clean” is vital to creating an image your organization can be proud of. It takes work, but the effort that goes into verifying the facts and keeping the conversation on topic will go a long way toward maintaining and building the integrity your followers demand.