Friday, November 19, 2010

EB Friday Hotlist: More on Microblogging and How to Keep a Positive Brand Reputation Online, Part 2

This is the second part of a two-part article on Twitter mistakes for handmade businesses to avoid.  You can read the first half here.
Continuing on with our discussion, it is important not just to control your own content but also to control what content written by others you publicly share.

Be mindful of what you favorite and retweet.  

In other words, pay attention what other people say and make a determination on whether or not passing the tweet along has the potential to hurt your business and/or your credibility.  Twitter has some concrete ways that you can show your stamp of approval and disseminate content to others.  Making use of these tools can make you a more interesting person to follow, but they need to be used carefully and thoughtfully.

This is an example of a retweet.
Lets define our terms first.  Retweeting can be done in two ways - by using the retweet button or by typing RT, the person's @ name, and the text of their tweet.  It basically allows you to take someone else's content and share it with your followers, while still giving credit to the original speaker.  People appreciate when you share their content and may return the favor when you post something cool or interesting about your business.  Your followers will appreciate seeing what you retweet because they may benefit from the information or simply find it interesting, and may even have a new contact to follow thanks to you.  Retweeting and being retweeted can increase your status in the Twitterverse because people will find following you worthwhile.

Favoriting tweets on Twitter is quite different.  If someone tweets something you like, find funny or interesting, or for any other reason you want to keep it bookmarked, you can click a clear star that appears next to the tweet which will then turn gold.  You can go to your favorites list via the Twitter website or a third-party application and it's just like clicking the drop-down menu on your browser that lists all of your bookmarked webpages - all of your favorite tweets are right there.  While these two features are obviously very different, the advice is pretty much the same for both of them:
  • Never recommend a tweet you haven't read.  For all intents and purposes, retweeting a link means you recommend your followers take a look at it.  If you're going to share content with your followers you need to make sure that it's legit.  Check the original poster out (if that information is still with the tweet) to make sure they aren't a scammer or sending people viruses.  If you don't trust that you can click on the link without causing harm to your computer, don't share it with anyone else, please!  (We all thank you in advance.)  If you trust the link, click it and read the web page, article, photo caption, or whatever is being shared.  Make sure you're really okay with sharing the content.  Not clicking just because you trust the original twitter can cause you to spread false or misleading information, information that isn't really relevant (titles can be misleading), or just offensive material.  Here's an extra tip I read recently - show your followers that you're intelligent, well-versed in your subject matter, and interesting enough to continue following by adding your opinion in as well.  Don't just link drop.  Instead tell your followers why you cared enough to RT and why they should care enough to click (most people don't).  Can't do it in 140 characters?  Try this.
  • Never favorite something you haven't read and aren't prepared to justify.  I will qualify this by stating that until writing this post last Saturday, I didn't even know my favorites were available for the public to see.  I actually got the inspiration for this blog post after seeing this controversy surrounding Sarah Palin hit the blogosphere.  (skip down to Update 3 - the information before that is irrelevant to this discussion).  Anyway, I'm not suggesting that the news media is going to report what you favorite on Twitter, because you're probably not as famous as Gov. Palin if you're reading my blog.  Remember, I'm showing extreme real life examples to show you that it's always crucial to think then act, even though it's "just" the internet.  
    See the star?
    Now I also totally get that it's possible that you would want to bookmark something you disliked, disagreed with, or found offensive so that you could reference it later.  Be aware though that the word "favorite" is generally associated with "like."  Your potential customers might be offended by that adult-themed cartoon you found hilarious or turned off by your seeming interest in controversial social movements, regardless of whether or not you sympathize with said cause.  If you want to favorite something that might make a customer second guess supporting your business, just bookmark it in your web browser or on a site like Google Bookmarks.  Do the same thing if you don't have time to check out a link from a tweet now, but you want to later.  If your customer checks out your favorite tweets and gets a virus from a link you seemingly like, they might not ever go back to your Twitter again...or your store.  By the way, you can bookmark tweets in your browser too.  Find the link to an individual tweet by clicking on the date/time stamp (i.e. "24 seconds ago" or "4:21 PM Nov 5th"). 
What I hope you'll take away from this post is a goal to make sure you're not ostracizing your current or future clients by acting considerately and thoughtfully in your use of social media.  Stop and think about the implications of a message before you hit the tweet button.  Social media should boost your business, not hurt it.

Until next time,

I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season!


Anonymous said...

Wow! I had no clue that favorites on twitter are public. I went through mine to see what was there, and deleted a couple random ones. Thanks! :)