How Can You Avoid Dropping The Ball On Social Media?

by Dan Cash

Making a stupid statement or getting into a fight on Twitter or Facebook can be embarrassing and make you look very, very foolish. It can also lose you your job if you foul up badly enough. OK, worst case scenario you can be put in solitary confinement, accused of treason and see you facing the death penalty but that is because of Bradley Manning taking masses of sensitive cables and deliberately disseminating them on Wikileaks, not just rashly expressing on ill-considered opinion.

UCLA student Alexandra Wallace expressed her caring, humanitarian attitude in a YouTube video which went viral mocking Asian culture and language, Japanese students and the fate of those caught up in the earthquake and subsequent tsunami earlier this week. Of course she’s apologised for it now but that’s not really the point.

Another dumb-arsed thing you can do is not check properly which profile you’re posting from. Making the statement: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*cking drive” from your own account might get a ‘tru dat’ from your friends and followers who know the city, mistakenly posting it from you client’s twitter account is unforgivably irresponsible. Even more so when your client just happens to be Chrysler Group. That kind of boob will not only get you fired but your agency dumped from the campaign, something that puts all of your (former) colleague’s jobs on the line in these times.  

It’s not just the hoi polloi who are inclined to make these sorts of social media gaffs either. Michael Winner, film director, gourmand and car insurance spokesperson recently started talking about the chest of Victoria Coren, a British television presenter and journalist. She began Tweeting him back, thinking that some-one had hacked his account, it turned out they hadn’t the old guy really was making inappropriate comments about her and then began insulting her father, a now deceased journalist and television presenter. In a bizarre twist of manners she apologised for calling him on the telephone at 10:30 in the evening to alert him that she believed some-one had hacked his twitter account while he never had the grace to apologise for his rank crassness toward her.

If you are going to say anything, in any capacity using social media STOP! Think twice, and think if you’d want your grandmother or your boss to read it. If you’re happy with that, go ahead.

That seems like the simplest of common sense but it’s a thing that many people clearly forget. ‘It’s internet fluff which doesn’t really count toward anything’ is the attitude many people hold, even Jack Dorsey thought so when he invented Twitter. It’s now reckoned to be worth $8 to $10 billion to the right people. Courtney Love no longer thinks so either now she’s having to pay $430,000 in libel damages to the designer she ripped into on Twitter.

Ken Goldstein is a VP at Chubb Group of insurance companies. He’s also their World Wide Media Liability Manager and he says: “Just because it’s informal and quick doesn’t mean you can’t get yourself into significant trouble.”

Chubb have offered some tips on how to avoid landing yourself, or your company in tweet trouble:

1, Use a ‘Tweet delay.’ Get a some-one to look at what you’re about to put up before you do so. Get them to check that it’s going from the right account and that it doesn’t say anything that is off message for the brand that you’re representing.

2, Think before you click. Ponder whether this tweet, if spoken aloud, would be tolerated in a meeting or at your family dinner table.

3, Don’t relax your writing rules. Simply because a tweet isn’t an email or press release that has been officially generated from your office it can still land you up in front of a judge.

4, Use a designated tweeter. Appoint some-one to be your official mouthpiece and only let tweets pass through them.

The fact that the guy working for Chrysler was their official designated tweeter doesn’t detract from the rules. Had he observed any of the first three rules he would never have got to the stage of letting that one out.

So, while social media networks are a great way to get your message across to all of your friends and followers in an instant, take an instant to think about what it is you’re saying and how it will be perceived by the general public.


Since monitoring these events Dan Cash has barely left the house and has become an officianado of Indian takeaways in Cardiff. If you want fast food in Cardiff, he’s the man to ask!