A social media guide for brands on Election Day 2012

Don’t get caught in a firestorm today. Heed these dos and don’ts for brands on social media this Election Day.

Although we live in a free country, and you can say just about anything short of shouting fire in a crowded theater (or its equivalent), there are certain topics to avoid so the harsh spotlight of social media isn’t cast upon you.

At the same time, there are ways to write about this historic day without getting into trouble.

Here’s a social media guide for brands on Election Day 2012.

Avoid the social media rumor mill.

Before the emergence of social media, press outlets leaned heavily on “exit polls” to report from polling places on Election Day. They offered a real-time snapshot of how the electorate was leaning as the day progressed, or so said the prevailing wisdom. In elections past, exit polls swung wildly, offering a mostly inaccurate portrait of the race.

(I can recall NPR practically calling the 2004 election for John Kerry because of exit polling in Virginia early on Election Day that year.)

This time around Twitter will be the dipstick for reporters filing stories before the election totals start pouring in. And, as we all know, Twitter is rampant with rumors.

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