Obviously, some things are better left unsaid. This became a harsh realization for Ashton Kutcher, after he recently tweeted about the firing of Joe Paterno following the Penn State scandal. In his tweet he asked, “How do you fire Jo Pa? #insult #noclass as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste”.
It was a simple question, but in light of the circumstances surrounding the Penn State scandal — namely, the child molestation charges — and Joe Paterno’s knowledge of those events, not exactly an innocent one.
Immediately following that tweet, the Twitter community lashed out at him. Many were infuriated and even disgusted, and understandably so. Kutcher’s response? To quit. Well, sort of, anyway. After his tweet, he chose to hand over control of his Twitter account to his PR management team, in an undoubtedly strange move for someone that has famously managed their Twitter account themselves for a pretty long time. Now, he’s decided that speaking to 8 million people by himself is just way too big of a responsibility.
The Power of Tweets
And yet, this event shows the power of individual tweets not only in breaking news and spreading information, but also in damaging reputations. It shows that, regardless of how huge your Twitter following is, ensuring that the wording of what you post aligns with how you want others to perceive yourself or your business. Content is good and important, and sometimes being controversial in your opinions can be rewarding too, but taking an extremely unpopular side to a controversial subject is probably not in anyone’s best interest when their reputation is on the line.
And certainly, all of this applies to businesses as well. Although, typically, most small businesses don’t have very large followings on Twitter or huge fan bases on Facebook, it is still just as important for them to watch what they say on the various social media platforms. After all, just because you only have a few hundred fans and follower on Facebook and Twitter doesn’t mean that one bad thing can’t be extremely damaging to your reputation.
Avoid Controversial Opinions
Sometimes it is refreshing and important for businesses to comment and reflect on ongoing events in the world because it makes them seem aware and real. But on the other hand, it can also make them appear to be coarse and self-interested. Just look at what happened to Kenneth Cole after they tweeted about the riots in Cairo.
And in most cases, businesses are just better off avoiding taking controversial sides on heated topics. Commenting on them is fine, sure, assuming that the side your business is taking is widely held to be okay.
But ultimately, when tweeting and posting on Facebook, make sure that what you are about to post is actually the side or opinion you want to take on a matter. If you think it might be poorly received by some, maybe you’re better off not posting it.
When You Do Post Something In Poor Taste, Own Up to It
But there may be situations in which you — in an instance of especially poor judgement — post something highly controversial that many of your fans may absolutely hate. The solution? To own up to it. If people respond to it negatively on Facebook and/or Twitter, don’t just delete it and hope that it will go away. Because, for the most part, it won’t go away, and people probably won’t immediately forget about it.
So, in almost any case, you are better off responding to the criticism. Admit that you made a mistake and that you realize that your opinion wasn’t necessarily in the best interest of your respective Twitter and Facebook communities. It’s okay, because we all make mistakes.
Still, what Kutcher’s recent Twitter snafu only further highlights is that social media is still a very serious representation of oneself. People take it very seriously because they assume that it represents what the business stands for. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be afraid of it. Embrace the humanity aspect of Twitter and Facebook, and make your business seem more aware and real. That’s important.
Just also watch what you say, because it only takes one unpopular opinion or comment to seriously damage your reputation on social media.
Source: MSM DesignZ, Inc. is a Westchester NY Social Media company specializing in advertising, web and graphic design, and SEO.