Twitter is great - but use a bit of common sense

It's fair to say everyone is still working out how best to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media vehicles as communications tools.

It's fair to say everyone is still working out how best to use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media vehicles as communications tools.

We all remember Twitter snafus such as Kenneth Cole linking the uprisings in Egypt to the launch of his new spring collection and The Redner Group losing its prestigious 2K Games account after threatening journalists who gave a video game a bad review on Twitter.

Not good strategy and surely lessons that have been learnt by all communications pros…? Well, up to a point.

This week has seen several other Twitter interventions that ranged from the unwise to the downright stupid. A publicist posted a message on Twitter linking the London riots to the press preview of a new clothing line at Macy's. Whole Foods landed itself in hot water when internal emails about a promotion around halal food and Ramadan entered the blogosphere and Twittersphere, with local branches and head office seemingly not singing off the same hymn sheet. Other Twitter controversies this week included Pat Hanlon robustly defending his New York Giants, where he is VP of communications, on Twitter after criticism of the franchise's pre-season activities.

Actually, in the latter case, I believe Hanlon came out ahead. Robust exchanges like this are no different to the conversations most fans have in the bar during and after games, and Hanlon comes over as someone who passionately supports his team, which fans can relate to. He skims a little close to the line with some of his language and exchanges, but on balance it works for the brand.

Twitter is one of the most exciting, immediate, and useful channels available to communicators – but it doesn't take much to turn that firepower inwards and score an own goal. Ultimately, a little common sense and a coherent and consistent strategy across all areas of a brand and organization should be the order of the day, and every link in the communications chain needs to know this.

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