COM0011: Take 10 Seconds to Tweet

By Bryan Thiel (@BryanThiel_88)


 

TwitterFail

Whether you’re an individual or part of a larger business, starting out on social media can be frightening. With so many different tools, trends and traps out there it can be a little overwhelming at first, and slightly imposing to keep moving towards creating your own online footprint. A solid handle on social media platforms and a trust in what they can provide a business with is key for beginners, but as things progress there’s someone else who needs to be able to be trusted.

The person with the keys to the car.

When it comes to keyboards and computers, the only thing that can turn up on the screen is what we put there. We have to type it, we have to link to it, and we have to post it.

That’s where people have found themselves in some trouble since Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media became so integral to how we do business. There are things that people would do on their personal accounts that they would never do on a professional account. But despite the care and caution, somehow these things find a way to the internet and scar a company’s image while frightening others in the process.

It was a middle ground I found myself in when I first left school and began breaking into the broadcasting industry. Social media was just beginning to bubble to the surface at this point and provide us with a platform to present readers and viewers with news and information. It was also providing us with a spot to spout off about what was going on in everyones personal lives. As I’m sure anyone has found using social media, it’s very easy to project your day-to-day ‘vocabulary’ onto social media and, as we all know, that isn’t the most professional set of words out there.

So at an early stage in my use of social media, I made a conscious decision to avoid using those four-letter words on Twitter and Facebook, in hopes of maintaining a professional image. At one point I even tried to separate the professional and personal aspects of my life with two Facebook accounts. It worked until I began ignoring the professional one…and eventually forgot the password.

My choices turned out to be solid ones. I have friends and colleagues who some would call ‘loose cannons’ when it comes to posting and responding on Twitter, while others have had solid job interviews dashed by pictures that have found their way to Facebook and Instagram. One friend even found herself on the outside looking in of her dream job, because they had the authority to go through her private messages on Facebook. As you can imagine, what they found there didn’t help her cause.

While all of this worked for me, I had never verbalized my personal ‘rules’; they were always something that had just lived up there in my mind, acting as a guideline before you sent whatever you had to say or show off into the worldwide web. Then somebody did it for me.

Elliotte Friedman is an NHL Insider, formerly for CBC and currently for Rogers Sportsnet. For those that don’t know what that means, he basically uses different ways to report on news and rumours in the NHL before they happen. I was listening to him on the radio one day when he said something that made a lot of sense: take 10 seconds before you tweet.
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Pause and think about that for a second. None of us are perfect, and we’ve all probably hit ‘send’ on something before we should have…even if they’re unintentional, mistakes happen. Some have gotten the chance to delete it, but others weren’t so lucky. For some, it may have cost them a job. If you had taken 10 seconds—the time it takes you to wash your hands—to think about what you were posting before you posted it, you wouldn’t have the regret or embarrassment that it caused.

ChryslerTweet
Now, instead of reacting to something immediately, I pause. Before writing some scathing retort to a friend or co-worker, I re-word it a bit and don’t come off so brash. Dial it back a bit if it doesn’t seem worth or necessary for the situation.

It’s really up to you whether or not you create any rules to follow while using social media, because the only one guiding you…is you. But if you establish your own ground rules for yourself on social media and trust in them, then maybe  it will be way less scary and easier for someone else to trust you with their business on social media. Maybe that enhances your professional reputation. Maybe you get a promotion or move on to bigger and better things. Or maybe you just protect the people that trusted you in the first place.

And all it took was 10 seconds.

 

5 thoughts on “COM0011: Take 10 Seconds to Tweet

  1. It’s always amazing to me when big companies Tweet something totally absurd. Like the comment from Gap about online shopping during Hurricane Sandy. It makes me wonder if the person in charge of its social media is just sitting at home, in their pajamas, in front of the T.V. with their phone, Tweeting away. Where is the vetting? No company would send out a press release without it being proofed. So I don’t know why they wouldn’t do this for Tweets!

    • I would usually have a couple of hiccups myself in the early stages…nothing serious but maybe a typo or something. I would just kind of shrug them off, but then they bothered me a little more and I started double checking everything. Now before any Tweet I’m triple-checking everything. With the gravity of some of those mistakes at a corporate level though, I can see where some of companies are fearful of social media. Rather than fix how that mistake made it through, it’s easier to just pull out of social media entirely.

  2. It’s scary to read that your friend lost a job opportunity because the company she was applying to had access to her private Facebook messages! I know that privacy is never a guarantee and that we should assume everything online is accessible but to me this is horrifying. Was she applying to CSIS? If corporations have full access to our private messages when were are being considered for a position, perhaps that should become “viral” knowledge. I’ve never heard of this before.

    • It wasn’t CSIS but it was a security-level/safety detail. It wasn’t at a national level though, and what she did was illegal so it compounds the problem. I’m not sure how many people can look into ‘private’ messages, but I do know some places will challenge your confidence in your social media profiles by having you log in and then having you lead them through your profile. The private message checking is an extreme, but I know people who have been turned down for positions simply because of a profile photo/picture that has shown up on Facebook.

  3. When reading your post, a couple points really stood out. The 10 second rule, is golden and something that is very easy to incorporate. I was chatting with a friend today over coffee, and had mentioned how I had just read about private messages being read by hiring companies. I couldn’t believe it, but I have just read the conversations above, and there is a lot more to it than I first thought. However, the reality of the situation is, that it is probaly very true. Social Media is a very powerful tool, which should be respected and our online presence should be kept professional at all times.

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