Donald Trump has illustrated, to the point of disaster, the perils of using social media in attempts to promote a business and to protect a brand. His early morning tweets may have reinforced the adoration of his base – the customers he already has. The tweets also have held him up to global ridicule and exposed him and his Administration to investigation and, potentially, legal problems all the way to impeachment.
The Donald has fallen prey to one of the major enticements of social media, the feeling that the user is free to say whatever he or she wants. When you type in your tweet or post, you are so limited in space you don’t feel the need for an editor. It isn’t a speech or a memo to a specific person so you don’t feel the need for caution. You are sending a message to the whole world; in your mind, it isn’t the user who is safely anonymous, it is your audience that is nameless and faceless and, therefore, threatless. In a tiny way, you are god.
Of course, this isn’t the way real life works. The audience isn’t amorphous, it is composed of allies, opponents, skeptics and outright enemies. In President Trump’s case, the audience includes his base along with many political foes, members of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. and foreign intelligence communities, world and domestic leaders and, now and down the road, a slew of investigators following the trail of digital breadcrumbs.
Tweets and other Internet messages are not free and harmless. If you use social media to promote your business, protect your brand, sell a product, influence audiences or any other commercial use, follow these simple rules:
- Block out your ‘tweeting’ time; don’t rush through your writing
- Determine what you want to say
- Write out your message (Word, Pages, Notepad…) and trim to the allowed length (character count)
- Edit your message carefully for meaning
- Edit your message carefully for grammar, spelling
- Copy and paste to Twitter or other
- Post and review the published message within the correction time
- Correct or delete if faulty
- Delete after 30 days (+/-) if allowed
- Retain a copy of your tweet or post in a text file.
If you or your company has a public relations staff, run each commercial tweet past it to ensure you are not at odds with company messaging or a current marketing campaign. Unlike Trump and his White House, make sure everyone along the chain is on board and in sync with your social media messaging.