During the first of three scheduled US Presidential debates this year, all of the action was on Twitter (mostly thanks to Jim Lehrer). One of the millions of tweets was this one, from the folks at KitchenAid:
Our fine crisis communications consultant folks leapt into action and the consensus recommendation was for everyone to make sure that they use different social media tools (like apps or websites) on their phones and computers. This is to make sure you don’t mess up and accidentally post the wrong thing (which looks remarkably like the post above) to a professional account (like KitchenAid).
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened before, either. In fact, I use the follwing Twitter account mix-up (the infamous Red Cross/#gettngslizzerd episode) when I present to audiences about how best to bounce back from that kind of episode.
Do you see the difference between the two tweets? If not, let me help. One is off-topic from the stated mission of the organization, the other is making fun of the President of the United States’ dead grandmother. Frankly, I think that one will be easier to bounce back from than the other one was.
Seeing the hordes of consultants telling folks to use different apps on their phones to post messages and thus avoid this embarrassment, I think that’s the wrong message to give to our communications folks. The recommendation should be: Don’t make fun of the President’s dead grandmother!
It’s pretty simple, we should be telling folks is that everything, EVERYTHING, you post to an internet-connected website or web-service is PUBLIC. From showing your naughty bits to drunk posts, IT WILL COME OUT. So how about this for a tip to avoid Twitter pratfalls moving forward? If you’re the mouthpiece for or the head of an organization, let’s not post hateful things to the internet. At all.
Some folks I know are amazed that I only have one personal account. I post everything from my time at the bar watching the Eagles whip the Giants to sober public health statistics and important messages from my program. I also have three work Twitter accounts all on the same app on my phone. I haven’t yet made a mistake, but I also don’t belittle or degrade or use hateful language or curse or denigrate or or make fun of (except Eli Manning, and the Mets), or do anything that I worry could damage my reputation on ANY account. If I do slip up, then me apologizing and moving on is much easier. Almost as easy as apologizing for getting excited about finding two additional four-packs of a particularly difficult to find craft beer.
In the end, I think it gets back to that most sacred of internet rules, don’t be a poopyhead.