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Twitter Ė dangerous in the wrong hands

Date Posted: 05/01/2012 16:40:41
Posted By: Geometry PR

Rarely does a day pass when a celebrity or politician doesnít make the news following an ill-advised and poorly considered Tweet. This week Shadow Public Health Minister Diane Abbott dominated the headlines when she posted a Tweet which has been widely received as racist in tone and which is pretty shocking for somebody in her position.

The Tweet was hastily deleted, but not before the damage had been done. Abbott, in time honoured fashion, at first claimed that her words has been taken out of context before crumbling under a tsunami of criticism (to mix metaphors) and issuing an apology.

Whether itís a politician posting offensive or downright foolish Tweets, or football players and celebrities bickering with each other and spilling their emotional guts, one thing is clear - Twitter, like scissors, is dangerous when in the wrong hands.

Much of the problem lies in the brief and instant nature of Twitter. At just 140 characters (not words) itís too tempting to resist for many people for whom public communication doesnít come naturally. What harm can a quick sentence, posted anywhere and at anytime, do? Also, many people forget just how public Twitter is and can mistakenly think of it as more closed and private than it actually is. But Twitter is open source, so even Ďprivate messagesí are easily accessed.

Twitter is to politicians and celebrities as a lamp is to moths. Itís also becoming an essential tool in the marketing mix for an increasing number of businesses and brands. But even with its quick and instant nature, Twitter still needs to be treated with the same care as any other communications channel. People in the public spotlight will be used to issuing carefully constructed press materials through trained and skilled PR and communications professionals in their employ. They would never dream of pinging out press releases themselves, so why do they think they can use Twitter without risk or consequence?

This applies equally to businesses which are using Twitter. It needs to be treated with care at all times. Tweets need to be well considered and, even at just 140 characters, need to be well written. So donít gamble with your business reputation. If you arenít sure of how to use Twitter safely and effectively, speak to somebody who does.