Guest Post: Twitter-dee and Twitter-dumb

Posted by on July 13, 2011

Each semester, MarketWave welcomes interns to write guest posts on the MarketWave blog. This week, #SuperIntern Whitney Starling shared her tips on Twitter do’s and don’ts.

The world is no longer a private place, due to the popularity of social media channels. Social media can be a great tool for a number of industries, including marketing, politics and education. However, using social media, especially Twitter, in incorrect or inappropriate ways can have disastrous consequences. Instead of learning from your own mistakes, check out these examples of how not to use Twitter and avoid any social media disasters of your own.

In what is being called “Weiner-gate,” we see one of the most scandalous misuses of Twitter this year. Those who follow Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account were exposed to a lewd photo May 27. The picture was intended for a 21-year-old college female.

At first, Rep. Weiner claimed his Twitter account was hacked and completely denied sending the picture. The problem was that he could not deny the picture was of him. June 6 he admitted to the media that he did send the picture:

“Last Friday night I tweeted a photograph of myself that I intended to send as direct message as part of a joke to a woman in Seattle. Once I realized I posted it to Twitter, I panicked, I took it down and said that I had been hacked. I then continued with that story to stick to that story which was a hugely regrettable mistake.”

Key Takeaways: Don’t post damaging pictures online and be aware of who you’re replying to before you hit send.

Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole tweeted: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC”

Immediately the Internet was in a flurry with people who were angered by his insensitive tweet during a serious situation in Egypt. He removed the tweet and issued an apology on his Facebook page.

Key Takeaways: Don’t use a political controversy or irrelevant trending topics to promote your brand and take a moment to think if what you’re about to say is on brand and not offensive to others.

Red Cross
The American Red Cross is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that has provided emergency assistance, disaster relief and education in the United States for 130 years. However, the organization is not immune to committing a Twitter blunder. Through the use of HootSuite, the Red Cross posted the following tweet Feb. 15:

  • “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

The Tweet was an accident, meant to come from a personal account. Once the Red Cross realized the mistake they acknowledged it by tweeting an explanation and writing a post on their official blog.

  • “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”

In response, many Red Cross Twitter followers embraced the mistake and pledged donations to the organization, using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd.

Key Takeaway: Social media mistakes and errors are inevitable – when you do commit a faux pas admit it and move forward. You might get lucky and have it work in your favor.

The creation of social media channels can be a positive and a negative thing. They have made it easier to communicate and connect with people, but have also made it easier to have your faux-pas publicly displayed and criticized. It’s important to stop and think before you tweet.

What are some of your Twitter do’s and don’ts?

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  1. Great post! On the Kenneth Cole tweet, I think another mistake was just being out of tune with the Twitter community. It felt like they were tweeting in a bubble, completely unaware of everyone else. The tone of tweets about the Middle East at that time was nowhere close to joking, and if Kenneth Cole had been paying attention at all, that tweet never would have gone out.

    And I agree on the Red Cross – kudos to them for owning the mistake. More proof that authenticity is king in PR and social media.

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