Reputations can quickly be made - and broken - in the Twittersphere. People have lost their jobs because of an ill thought out tweet. MP Judith Collins decided to take a break from the platform altogether after too readily becoming embroiled in Twitter wars with opponents and critics.
Twitter is a public forum where anyone can follow you unless you block them, so forget all about privacy; once you push ‘Tweet’ your message is out there for millions to see. Make a mistake and the Twitterati can quickly take umbrage and escalate the matter out of your control. Just ask American PR practitioner, Justine Sacco who in 2013 tweeted this as she was boarding a plane: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding! I'm white."
The Twitterati accused her of racism and Ms Sacco quickly became the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons when she disembarked in South Africa, subsequently losing her job as a result.
But Twitter-related risk goes beyond making politically incorrect statements. An increasing number of consumers have realised that they can get faster resolutions to complaints by tweeting about them. As a result, many organisations have boosted their social media teams in an effort to protect their reputations. But how many complainants consider how their tweeted complaints will affect their own reputations?
How you complain on social channels can say more about you than the organisation about which you are complaining. Being rude, insulting and boorish can be counterproductive in the real world and the same goes for cyberspace. Not only will it increase your risk of being labelled a troll, but you could get blocked, lose followers and tarnish your reputation in the process. There is nothing to gain and everything to lose from being abusive to other tweeters, no matter whether they are individuals or organisations.
If you do feel compelled to complain about something, then be sure to stick to the facts and avoid making personal comments.
Twitter may be a modern form of communication but good old-fashioned manners still apply. You will get far better results by providing intelligent insight and opinion that resonates with your followers, and engaging in constructive and well-reasoned debate with those who disagree. In short, treat fellow tweeters as you’d like to be tweeted yourself [pun intended].
If you would like some advice on your personal or business reputation or how to get the most from twitter, feel free to get in touch with us. We are a PR agency in Auckland.