In a February 12, article in the New York Times Magazine entitled How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life, columnist Jon Robinson tells the story of a tweet that went terribly wrong. This is a cautionary tale for anyone using the now ubiquitous application to promote themselves, or their brand.
The story details how three “inappropriate” tweets sent by Justine Sacco before departing on an international flight from JFK in NY to Heathrow in London, to her final destination in Cape Town, South Africa, went viral in just 11 hours. By the time she landed, Sacco’s tweets were the No. 1 worldwide trend on Twitter. Had Sacco been able to post an apology right away, she may have been able to stop the onslaught of criticism, but Robinson tells us “as Sacco’s flight traversed the length of Africa, an (ominous) hash tag began to trend worldwide: #hasJustineLandedYet.”
This is truly a horror story. With tens of thousands of angry tweets, Sacco’s reputation, now at the mercy of “shamers,” unraveled. Robinson recounts a number of similar harrowing stories that testify to both the power and danger of sharing your thoughts and observations on twitter.
While these stories are extreme cases, there is clearly an etiquette needed for posting on Twitter. This is especially true when you tweet on behalf of a college or university. Sharon Gaudin of computerworld.com offers this blanket statement. “Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want your parents, boss, law enforcement, your kid’s friends or your significant other to read.” Though this is personal advice, it’s a probably a very good place to start.
Here are some other do's and don’ts for marketers using Twitter:
- Develop a marketing plan and integrate Twitter in that plan
- Stick to your plan
- Provide good useful information with links to meaningful content, use photos and video when possible
- Engage and interact - remember you’re building relationships
- Follow those who follow you and retweet items of value
- Use hash tags systematically and sparingly
- Start conversations and even debates, but be prepared to moderate
- Avoid being negative - If you wouldn’t say it directly to a student, parent or a colleague don’t say it in a tweet
- Avoid industry lingo and jargon, keep it simple and fresh
- Spend more time listening then posting and you’ll get a better idea of what’s working
The most important thing to remember before you tweet is that this is your brand; it is your most valuable asset. Only good planning and thoughtful execution can protect it.
“Tuition Management Systems (TMS) is the sponsor of this post. The sources who contributed ideas to this post do not endorse or recommend any commercial products or services, including those of TMS. All information and opinions of the contributors are provided for informational purposes only. TMS neither endorses, has any responsibility for, nor exercises control over the views of any contributor to this article or the accuracy of the information provided by any of them.”