How to tweet without regretting it later

A Twitter gaffe from Miss Seattle reminds us to be careful before we tweet—whether it’s for personal use or for a brand.

We’ve all committed a social gaffe, such as saying something in the heat of the moment that we immediately wished we could take back. Now those gaffes, when shared on today’s social media platforms, can stick around to haunt you.

The most recent case in point: This year’s Miss Seattle, who proclaimed her annoyance with the city of Seattle, its residents, and its weather one dreary day in December. A local reporter caught wind and blogged about the blunder, which became a veritable viral sensation.

Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn, 22, a Seattle native, said she was merely missing the sunny weather in Phoenix, where she attended Arizona State University and was crowned Miss Phoenix. By all accounts, it was an honest mistake, but a damaging one nonetheless.

Ahn has since spent the majority of her time in the position apologizing for her social media misstep. Most recently, she spent a day educating school children on her new platform: “THINK Before You Post“—which stands for Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Needed and Kind—to remind them to make sure their online posts fall into those categories.

And so she joins the ranks of other famous (infamous?) faces who have failed to recognize that a public social media platform is just that—public. But they’re not alone; even though it may not be breaking news, there’s a good chance that many of us are also guilty of the same faux pas.

In fact, a recent Daily Mail poll revealed that approximately 25 percent of people have tweeted something they regret, and approximately the same number of people said they have posted something on a site that they never would have said to someone’s face.

So while there are no official “rules” for using Twitter, we thought it might be helpful to review a few tips for projecting a more professional image, regardless of whether you use it for work or personal purposes. After all, you never know just who is watching:

Have a goal. Decide what you want to get out of having a Twitter account before you set it up. Make a plan, have a purpose, and direct your actions accordingly.

Mind your grammar. Capitalize only when needed (DON’T SHOUT IN CAPS), use active language, refrain from using numbers “2” replace words, and use abbreviations wisely.

Focus on value. What can you offer followers that others cannot? Post quality content regularly. Take an active interest and you’ll keep them connected, interested, and engaged.

Be edgy, not offensive. There’s a fine line between pushing the envelope and pushing the limits of good taste. Take your followers into consideration, but—above all—use common sense.

Think before you tweet. This is definitely worth repeating. And when in doubt, wait. Give yourself a window for cooling off when you may be emotional.

Got any Twitter best practices? Or pet peeves?

Jennifer Hellickson is a senior account strategist with PerkettPR. Based in San Francisco, she works with B2B and B2C clients on influencer relations, social marketing, and thought leadership strategies. A version of this story first appeared on the PerkettPR blog, PerkettPRsuasion.

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