Let slip the Tweets of war.

Last week I talked about why people can be so mean on the Internet. This week, Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney learned the hard way that if you provoke the Bieber hive, the swarm will respond both swiftly and angrily. It’s no secret that the Bieb has a devout (if not rabid) fan base. In person, they are relatively harmless (though do not underestimate the deadly power of ecstatic tweenage girls). It is in the Twittersphere is where they have the most strength. Carney weathered volleys of nasty comments, and eventually adopted a Bieber-esque persona to mock the pop star and his followers. The actual intercourse is quite hilarious, but the implications are not.

There was a firefight!!!

What is interesting about this situation is the level of influence a person has through social media. Bieber never gave the attack order, but his followers are so dedicated to him that they went into a flurry, like sharks in chummed water. Carney never stood a chance.

This isn’t the first time that widespread cyberassault has happened over Twitter, and it certainly won’t be the last. The ramifications for businesses and brands are huge. From hacked Twitter accounts, flame wars, and bad judgement, one slipped step can provoke a cascade of negative publicity. Even band members are representatives of their own brand. I love the Black Keys, but I find it silly that a grown man in an accomplished band would start duking it out with a bunch of tweens on Twitter.

Brands, whether they are people, services, or products, need to step very cautiously when using social media. This isn’t some kind of well-kept secret. It’s common sense! But why do we keep seeing these missteps online? What can we do to mitigate these digital foot-in-mouth moments?

  1. Take some time to craft your post.
  2. Before you post, walk away from it for at least 10 minutes (especially if it is a “post of passion”).
  3. Come back to your post, and think about the way it will be perceived by others. How will it make them feel? Is there any chance it will be misunderstood? If this post was screen captured and posted on the front page of the New York Times, would you feel good about that?
  4. If you feel that your post contributes something of value and doesn’t make you look like an idiot, go ahead and post it. If you come back to it and you have reservations, it’s probably not a good idea. Revise and repeat steps 1 -3.
If people took just a little more time before they open their big digital mouths, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many “d’oh!’ moments on the internet.

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