Look Before You Tweet!

5 02 2009

slocricchio1“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Didn’t we learn this social etiquette way back in pre-school, or through our grandparents or somewhere along the line? Like everyone in our trade, I’m immersing myself further in the social media world. Just as I thought I mastered all that Facebook has to offer, along came Twitter to make me feel like a newbie. The one thing I’ve noticed about social media is that a lot of those who indulge in the various forms of online interaction seem to forget that it’s SOCIAL.

Like a childhood game of telephone magnified 100 fold, what you post can spread through the office or around the country in mere minutes.

For example, there’s been quite a bit of chatter about a recent misstep by a Ketchum PR guy. Upon deplaning in Memphis, for a FedEx client meeting, he tweeted a negative comment about the city to his Twitter account. A few hours and now weeks later, PR people all over the country are nervously laughing at that guy’s folly and secretly thinking, “Thank Heavens that wasn’t me.” (PS: We’re also all thinking, “I wonder if FedEx is shopping for a new agency?”)

 

We should be our authentic selves when posting a Tweet or making comments on Facebook, and we’re all certainly entitled to our opinions, but would you verbally say to someone what you would write about them? Would that PR guy have said to his client, I would die if I had to live here? From email to Twitter, non-verbal communication seems to makes it permissible to forego social norms and fire off messages that may be perceived as rude, inappropriate or just plain foolish.

 

I’m certainly not saying we should hide our personalities online or reject our right to free speech. I often exchange very silly and bizarre comments with friends and post obscure videos and links. I just believe everyone needs to be conscious of the fact that what you post can and will travel far, and if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all (or at least don’t say anything stupid that could come back to haunt you).

 

I just read a great book on blogging called “Naked Conversations” that gives some great insight into this topic. For a humorous take on what the Facebook experience would feel like in the real world, check out this video and reply to this post about your thoughts about where virtual reality and true reality split online and what our social networking P’s and Q’s should be.