Love it or hate it, Twitter is a very influential tool in the world today. It has incredible potential for positive engagement of your audience and raising brand awareness for personal or corporate brands alike.
Unfortunately, like all tools that possess such power, it can do some serious damage when used incorrectly.
One critically important thing to remember when using Twitter, and all other social media outlets, is that not every personal thought, right or wrong (but, especially wrong!), belongs on the internet. One wrong Tweet has the potential to destroy your reputation and career.
Notably, this spring, Roseanne Barr made that mistake.
For those of you not familiar with her work, Roseanne is a female comedian that had her own sitcom in the 90’s and, after two decades off air, returned to air on ABC to fantastic ratings. She came out of retirement to massive support and love from her fans and her career was revitalized.
Then, she made a tasteless remark on Twitter, and it all went away in a flash.
She Tweeted, “if the Muslim Brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” in reference to Valerie Jarrett, an African-American woman who was a senior adviser to Barack Obama throughout his presidency.
The ‘Twittersphere’ exploded and the implications were far-reaching. ABC canceled her show and, with it, her big ‘comeback,’ and her reputation suffered inarguable damage. In a statement, the entertainment president of ABC, Channing Dungey, said, “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values.”
She, subsequently, made a public apology but it was definitely too late to save her show. It remains to be seen how long it will take her to repair her reputation.
And, she is not alone; this can happen to anyone.
Business Insider’s former chief technology officer, Pax Dickinson, was also fired for sharing wildly inappropriate Tweets in 2013.
One critically important thing to remember about social media today, Twitter especially, is that whatever you put out there has the potential to be out there forever.
Dickinson was interviewed by Valleywag and confronted with his incredibly distasteful Tweets from more than three years prior such as, “Who has more dedication, ambition, and drive? Kobe only raped one girl, Lebron raped an entire city. +1 Lebron,” and, “In the Passion Of The Christ 2, Jesus gets raped by a pack of n****rs. It’s his own fault for dressing like a whore though.”
Another important thing to remember is that it is difficult to convey your tone via a Tweet. Dickinson may have intended these Tweets to be funny but, when confronted with his words in a sobering interview years later, it is very easy for any intended humour to be lost and the vulgarity of his statements to remain.
Following that interview, Business Insider CEO, Henry Blodget fired Dickinson and release this statement, “A Business Insider executive has made some comments on Twitter that do not reflect our values and have no place at our company.”
These are two extreme examples of Twitter gone bad, but the sentiment remains: something so simple as a Tweet can mean the destruction of the brand, career and reputation you worked so hard to build.
This is a very easy mistake to avoid.
Consider these questions before you Tweet:
- Are you contributing positively to your reputation?
- Does this reflect the values of my brand?
- If your intention is to take a stand or be disagreeable, have you done so respectfully? Is it worth your career? Are you prepared to defend yourself?
- In 10 years, when you’re wildly successful, would you be embarrassed or ashamed if a reporter read you this Tweet and asked you about it in an interview?
- Does this statement accurately reflect how you would like my brand to be perceived?
Finally, always re-read your Tweets before you share to avoid any unintended misunderstanding due to ambiguity.
If you would like some help creating a highly effective social media strategy, register below for a free one-hour consultation with Samari Communications, a Boutique PR agency in Toronto specializing in communication for fashion, beauty, technology and lifestyle brand.
- A Humber PR grad with a diverse background in the entertainment and fashion industries, Amanda Albert lends her experience to Samari Communication in her role as a PR Coordinator. Her 10+ years working in fast-paced, lively work environments enable her to assist her clients to effectively navigate today’s millennial culture in the ever-evolving PR industry. Her life-long love of fashion and its role in culture and the arts has inspired her to complete a collection of short stories. She is currently working on her second collection. You can find her on LinkedIn or contact her via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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