An Open Letter to Social Media Managers


So you want to write a clever tweet about the World Cup that will expose your brand to hundreds, if not thousands, of potential new customers.


But before you do, know this: there are people on Twitter whose sole goal in life is to be one of the first to call you out for tweeting content that could be viewed as insensitive or inaccurate.

As of this writing, companies the likes of Delta Airlines and KLM have already issued apologies for pushing tweets that would be considered stupid at best, and insensitive to entire cultures, at worst.

And, to think, somebody in a high position looked at those tweets and said it was okay to click “Tweet.”

(For the sake of the people low on the social totem pole, I hope somebody above them approved their idea. There is nothing worse than issuing something publicly that you forgot to get approval for.)

Nothing excites the Twitter lynch mob more than publicly shaming your brand as soon as the tweet shows up in their feed.

You remember when Chrysler’s Twitter account posted a tweet that contained the F-word, right?

People practically fell over themselves to be the first to feign outrage that a real company could tweet something so vulgar (even if it was 100 percent true.)

There was a mad dash to be the first to re-tweet the tweet; to show the social universe just how concerned they are about how brands conduct themselves on Twitter, even though it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Maybe that user would even gain ten more followers. But for sure they would live on in infamy and gain immediate Internet fame for being the first to call attention to it.

Unfortunately, this is what you’ll have to deal with, so you’ll rack your brain trying to come up with something clever, only to see it become sanitized as it goes through the approval process, ultimately becoming something so vanilla that it couldn’t possibly offend anyone.

And therein lies the rub: Why spend all of that time going through approvals if your brand is just going to become lost among a sea of related tweets?

In this case, unless your brand has a real connection to soccer or sport, don’t waste your time trying to keep up with the Joneses.

At best, you’ll gain a few re-tweets. At worse, you’ll be ridiculed.

It’s not worth your time.

Let He Who Is Without Sin Cast the First Tweet

When Scott Bartosiewicz accidentally dropped the ‘F Bomb Heard ‘Round Detroit’ on Chrysler’s Twitter account on March 9, contrary to popular belief within the walls of Twitter, the world did not end. Chrysler sales did not plummet. My mother did not sign up for a Twitter handle because of the buzz.

I would venture to say, outside of our own little Twitter world, it did not affect us, save for Scott and the unfortunate casualties of the aftershock.

But the few eagle-eyed Twitter users who did catch the errant tweet made sure it wouldn’t go quietly into the night.  They displayed the proper amount of manufactured outrage. One user even took the time to write a blog post publicizing their remarkable catch, but you can’t read the entire post anymore because the entire blog has since been marked ‘private’. [Editor’s note: Weird.]

We don’t pretend to be offended when we hear somebody swear in a public place like a bar, for instance, so why do we act so shocked when somebody slips in a bad word in the digital equivalent? I mean, I think it was obvious, in retrospect, that Chrysler didn’t sanction the tweet. Somebody just made a mistake.

And, that happens sometimes.

If you’re paying attention to recent trends in our industry, Twitter seems to be the end all, be all of our profession. In actuality, it’s still just a shiny new toy; a toy that will, ultimately, be replaced by something shinier.

According to a recent blog post, there are only about 20 million “real” Twitter users. Or, about 5 percent of Americans. By comparison, that’s about the same number of Americans who own a 3D television, and nobody is quite sure if (or, when) 3D television will ever go mainstream.

So, essentially, we exist in our own little bubble; the importance we put behind Twitter is entirely of our own doing.

Not that it isn’t valuable. It started well enough: “What are you doing?”

Then we turned it into a tool to share valuable content, which led to valuable conversations, which led to us seeking rock star status.

Now the criticism we heap on others dominates our Twitter feeds. Forget about starting conversations. Forget about establishing connections. It is this drive to be the first to point out others’ faults — and gain a small amount of Internet fame — that has become the new American digital past time.

So I ask: When did it become acceptable to play this game? Probably around the same time we started to give the players even a modicum of attention, I answer. Once we started down that path, it would prove damned near impossible to reverse course.

In my humble opinion, Twitter is best used as a vehicle to share information and spur conversations. That’s it. But some see bringing others’ faults into the mainstream as a badge of honor to display proudly, as if we actually give a shit that somebody goofed.

Most of us do not.

Instead of publicly flogging the flaws, let’s focus on using this tool for good. Save the outrage for something that actually matters.