Category Archives: Tweeting

Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And Personable

Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And Personable.


Happy Wednesday!  Interesting article today from Luke O’Neill, editor at Business Wire Boston, about the importance of being professional and personal when composing a new tweet. Your words can come back to haunt you when you least expect it. — Pete Cento, The Cento Group 


Image of Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And PersonableBy Luke O’Neill, Editor, Business Wire

This is why we need to master Twittiquette

She flew thousands of miles from London to Cape Town, South Africa, but sadly her tweet traveled much farther.

The story of Justine Sacco is well known in public relations circles. She’s the former PR executive who sent an inappropriate tweet last December and boarded a long flight apparently with no Internet access. Her tweet went viral in a bad way.

Once Sacco’s tweet was exposed, Twitter users perused past tweets and found other offensive posts. At the time, her Twitter profile in part read “troublemaker on the side.” Evidently this day it was her troublemaker persona taking center stage. Then, abruptly, her Twitter account was terminated – and so was she.

Sacco’s story could happen to anyone regardless of the industry; but PR pros are in the public eye more than others and so are their blunders. With Twitter, be professional and personable, but most of all be careful.

In assessing the Sacco fallout, a CNN story observed: “The incident was a glaring reminder that every word uttered on the Internet can be heard by seemingly everyone on the Internet, sometimes with serious consequences.”

Image of Twittiquette: Keep Your Tweets Professional And PersonableIntention vs. Interpretation

You may intend a tweet to be snarky, funny or whatever, but readers may interpret it differently. It’s best to be clear and straightforward rather than sarcastic or jokey while also not being vanilla. A balance needs to be struck. Like an email, a tweet’s tone can be tricky to decipher since no one can see you roll your eyes after a sarcastic jab.

Another quandary within Twitter is your personality might not always match your “professionality,” but it’s still important to stay genuine and not contrived. And yet with some forms of PR, it’s OK to have an edge, you just can’t have that edge be too sharp.

“Whether your Twitter account is work related or not, you’ve got to keep it professional,” Peter Stringer, senior director of digital media at the Boston Celtics, wrote in an email. “If you work in PR and don’t understand that one misguided tweet can potentially bring down a reputation, brand, company or your career – whether you have 10 followers or 10,000 – I would suggest you find another line of work.”

Stringer manages the team’s main Twitter account with its 1.4 million followers. He said it’s vital for marketing and PR pros to respect their companies’ brand.

“In today’s day and age of personal branding, people are representing their employers, whether they know it or like it or not,” said Stringer. “And along those lines, if your name and company is associated with your Twitter account, people are going to make the connection.”

Disclaimers ‘Meaningless’

A growing sentiment among Twitter users is the oft-used profile disclaimer – “Tweets are my own and do not reflect my company’s views” – is not sufficient. After all, these disclaimers are not included in every tweet.

“A disclaimer in your Twitter bio is meaningless,” said Stringer. “They certainly don’t exempt you from having poor judgment. If an employee tweets something offensive and goes viral and creates a dust-up, like it or not, they’re a reflection of their employer. The employer will find itself under pressure to distance itself from that employee. You’re probably going to get fired.”

In addition, there seems to be some debate whether PR pros should even have their own personal Twitter accounts while also maintaining a professional client account.

Some bloggers have argued that PR pros should have just one professional Twitter account and keep personal interests off the grid. But others, like SHIFT Communications marketing analyst Amanda Grinavich, feel personal accounts can help PR pros connect with reporters and display interests outside of work.

“However,” she added in an email, “any time you are tweeting as a known employee of a company, people will associate you with that company. This doesn’t mean you’re tied down to speaking only about that client or brand, but it does mean any poor choices you make could fall back on the company. Overall, the balance comes down to using good judgment.”

In a blog, Grinavich pointed out: “We can’t really imagine how you can do your job in PR or marketing without using Twitter in your own way to learn about how things work on both sides of the coin – business and personal.”

Help is Here

Stringer added this social media caveat: “You’re representing yourself. Every tweet, selfie, blog is leaving a digital paper trail that will last forever. Our children’s children will someday read that subtweet that went viral when they Google us with their brain – or however that technology works in 2064.”

Lastly, a Mashable post has some helpful Twitter etiquette guidelines, including: Treat your Twitter posts as though your parents, grandparents and bosses were reading.

And ever delve into the recesses of Twitter’s help center? It’s chockfull of helpful hints and rigid rules. A couple lines stand out: “What you say on Twitter may be viewed all around the world instantly,” and “You are what you Tweet!”

Tweet tips: Five quick ways to maintain professionalism on Twitter:

1. Never post when you’re upset.

2. Don’t engage in a negative discussion until you have all the facts

3. Everyone is human.

4. If you would not say it to your grandmother or CEO, don’t tweet it.

5. Tweets are forever.

Feel like tweeting now? Why not tweet this article?


About the Author: Luke O’Neill is an editor at Business Wire Boston. Admittedly, he is fairly new to Twitter (@ONeillNews) but has a master’s degree in multimedia journalism and nearly 15 years of communications experience.