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Beware of Biting the Social Media Hand That Feeds

This morning on Twitter, one of the people I’m following retweeted a message from a regionally prominent interactive marketing manager (whom I won’t identify here) who said said in no uncertain terms that tweeting “really isn’t as important as we think it is.” In the grand scheme of the universe participating on a single social media platform isn’t all that important, and everyone’s certainly entitled to their opinion. But this opinion, facetious though it may have been, gave me pause.

The original twitterer hadn’t used the service in a few days and was remarking that the world hadn’t come to an end because of it. Nothing remarkable there–except for the fact that the very public tweet was written by a person paid by a PR firm to roll out and manage commercial social-media strategies over channels that you can bet almost certainly include Twitter. And whose Twitter account is linked prominently on their corporate bio page.

That means their employer, their clients, and potentially even their clients’ customers could have read the tweet, and might have taken it a different way than I did. How willing to continue to pay going consulting rates do you think a client would be if they came to believe–erroneously or not–that the person working on their interactive account thought one of their main interactive channels wasn’t worth the effort?

(The twitterer in question later clarified the statement was a personal opinion, although noting that having a good strategy and goals is more important than mere choice of platform, with which I agree.)

It’s a great and oft-repeated lesson about the Internet: there’s no do-over button here (as Google found out with the botched recent rollout of its new social media platform, Buzz.) You’re entitled to say what you feel, but you should probably consider the implications first. That doesn’t mean you should censor yourself. But it’s probably a good idea to say what you feel in words that won’t unnecessarily injure others–or yourself for that matter.

I should know. Regular readers and followers know I shoot myself in the foot repeatedly in this regard. I own it. At least I know when I do it, and I am aware enough to try and not repeat my mistakes. Too often. On the same day. But I’m learning.

Usually it’s the electronic-phobic luddites with their heads in the sand who drag their snouts out into the air every so often to complain that social media is only good for learning what “someone has had for breakfast.” I agree, Twitter and Facebook and their ilk are great for that. There’s also highly useful for helping keep far-flung friends and family connected, networking into wonderful new jobs and business partnerships, invigorating community journalism, breaking planetary news stories, and every now and then helping a populace rise up against a dictatorial regime.

With that track record, the luddites can think what they want. They’re misinformed about social media and they’ll just end up being future potential clients for interactive strategists with a good sense of humor somewhere down the road. Those of us using social media platforms like Twitter to good advantage–especially socially influential “power” users–owe it to our growing community not to drag it down by ill-considered remarks.

The fail whale flies off only when we’re all lifting together.

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Mike Doyle

I’m an #OpenlyAutistic gay, Hispanic, urbanist, Disney World fan, New York native, politically independent, Jewish blogger in Chicago. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I write words and raise money for nonprofits. I’ve written this blog since 2005. And counting...

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