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Know Before You Tweet – Your Reputation Depends On It

Amidst the controversy surrounding Congressman Anthony Weiner, individuals and brands alike need to consider the dark side of tweeting. Not only should content be considered before tweeting, but you should know how to use actions like Direct Message (DM), reply, and retweet before participating on the social channel. Do you know the difference between a DM and reply?  When is it appropriate to DM someone?

This recent article about Congressman Weiner made me wonder if he subconsciously wanted to share the inappropriate photo with the entire Twitter-sphere, or if he truly experienced major “DM fail.” He could’ve saved the public humiliation, and perhaps his marriage, if he just sent a DM.  Instead, his tweet baked in the public timeline, and got discovered.

And though there are no real rules on Twitter, it doesn’t mean you can be verbally abusive, make pointless arguments, make fun of people, or share inappropriate photos. Weiner’s mistake should be a reminder that your online reputation can easily be ruined with a single tweet. While we can all probably agree that Weiner could have avoided this public embarrassment by not sending the picture at all, if he was so inclined to send it, he should have used the DM feature in Twitter. When a tweet is meant to be private, and only shared with one person, use DM. Or if you’re simply having a lengthy discussion with just one other person, it is also appropriate to use DM. Otherwise, all tweets and @replies are public, so make sure you are using your best judgment!

Here are some quick steps to send a DM via Web:

  1. Once you’re signed in to Twitter, click the “Messages” tab at the top of the page
  2. Select “New Message”
  3. Enter the name of the person you want to DM (you can only DM people who follow you)
  4. Draft your 140-character message

Sending an @reply:

  1. Beginning a tweet with @[user’s twitter handle] means the tweet will be public and published on all your followers’ timelines
  2. For example: @Visible_Tech – loved your last blog. Great tips about using Twitter properly!

As more and more companies use Twitter to market their product and engage their customers, they should be armed with best practices to properly engage on the site. Before executing your Twitter initiatives, organizations big and small must put in place policies and procedures to effectively leverage the channel. Below are some key areas for consideration:

  • Determine who your dedicated users are from a line of business or product group perspective, as well as who has overall corporate responsibility.
  • Set up monitoring processes that will allow for more granularity in the tracking of not only company and product mentions, but also competitors and influencers in a targeted way.
  • Set policies and procedures that clearly state what is allowed for public comment on behalf of your organization and use monitoring technologies to ensure compliance.
  • Determine resourcing, whether it be centralized or de-centralized, and put in place cross-functional processes and feedback mechanisms among main Twitter participants.
  • As mentioned above, understand the different types of replies, namely a DM versus a retweet versus an @reply. An @reply is public and will be published in all your followers’ timelines. If the tweet is of a private nature, make sure you know how to send a DM!

When you take the plunge, remember to start talking about things that make you look knowledgeable, but also be knowledgeable about how to participate effectively on Twitter.

Assuming you don’t protect your updates on Twitter, everything is public. If you are properly managing your social networks in order to manage your brand’s reputation, Twitter should always work in your favor.


Tags : social media

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