Think Before You Tweet – How Social Media Can Bite You in The Ass

posted in: Social Networking | 0

Posted by
Paul Wackell – Web Designer – Inbound Marketing Consultant
Imagine Web Designs

Social media has become the lifeblood of personal and business communication recently and despite those who thought is was just a fad, it has outlived the pet rock, mood rings, pop rocks and other cultural icons from my youth. (No – the hula hoop was before my time).

But is this a good thing? (“brain dump” I will be speaking only from the perspective of business owners for this blog post – I don’t even want to think upon the myriad of self obsessed egomaniacs that think the world needs to know how their date went last night or what cool new trick their schizophrenic cat just did, or why Velcro proves the existence of extraterrestrials – If you want your personal 15 minutes of fame go for it, the rest of us don’t really care about you, but of course we hope you care about the stuff we just did or thought! Yikes! – ‘brain cramp”)

Back to the question – is this a good thing? The answer is both yes and no. Another “brain dump” Gee I should run for the Senate with and answer like that. Yes Mr. Reporter I both love and hate broccoli (depending on who I’m speaking with.) I’m sorry, did I say broccoli, I meant beets, ere, carrots, ere, no I actually meant cats, sorry dogs, no not dogs, ere Nancy Pelosi, no not her, ere the French,  what i meant to say was, – what was the question again Mr. Reporter?

The speed with which social media can spread your message is phenomenal. You can literally reach millions of people in a nanosecond. Just hit the enter key and voila – your network knows you have a new product, or new service, or a new article that will benefit them. So what could be bad about that.

The problem in my opinion comes from the speed of the media and is pervasiveness in both our personal and business lives.  So many people are tweeting and using other social media for both personal and business purposes that it tends to become second nature, a reflexive action. The instant nature of this particular media  generates the feeling that an instant response is needed. We fall victim to Tweeting or Facebooking without thinking and that’s where this media can bite you in the ass.

Take for example New Hampshire Democratic Candidate Keith Halloran. On Wednesday he posted on his Facebook page  that he wished Sarah Palin was on the plane that crashed, killing former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and several others. Oops! – speaking of brain cramps!

Having never met Mr. Halloran, I don’t know if he is a good man or not, and won’t speculate on his politics, but now millions of people  will be making personal assessments about his character based solely on this Facebook entry. What does it say about a man who would wish a woman, a wife and mother, death? I’ll leave that judgment up to you.

With one click of the mouse Mr Halloran has gained national recognition – most likely not in the way he had intended or hoped. Could a lifetime of good work be undone here? Quite possibly. What was he thinking? Obviously he wasn’t.

The problem is most people seem not to grasp the truly viral nature of social media and rarely if ever consider the far reaching and often damaging consequences of a momentary lapse in reason. Here’s a speculation on how this went wrong so quickly. I’m sure not all of his friends on Facebook are actually friends.  (How sad – you mean they really aren’t friends? boo-hoo). Some I’m sure are political opponents, bloggers and other media types following him for news purposes. So the Facebook entry gets tweeted, and emailed and blogged about, and retweeted and reported on websites from CNN to Fox News and voila – we have an idiot of the week nominee! All in a matter of hours.

Of course Mr. Halloran posted and apology on his Facebook page the next day, but the damage is done.  And that’s another problem with the media that needs to be taken into consideration. Its forever. You screw up, you screw up for good. No matter what else you do that one moment, that reflex to participate in social media, the acting without thinking, is out there for the rest of your life. It wouldn’t surprise me if 40 years from now that someone will approach Mr. Halloran and say, hey aren’t you the idiot that wanted Sarah Palin dead?!”

So the moral of the story for business owners – think before you tweet. Use social media, its a  great tools for business but use them wisely!  Think before you tweet!