Managing a brand’s Twitter handle doesn’t seem like it should be difficult, much like composing a tweet doesn’t seem difficult. However, as most brand social media managers know, it can take several minutes to carefully compose a thoughtful and compelling message that will likely engage followers in 140 characters.
At Kuno Creative, we manage several client Twitter profiles. To keep our clients’ profiles optimally active, we tend to schedule or queue tweets using various tools before the fact. Many of these tweets feature hyperlinks to brand-related articles or webpages to increase the likelihood of retweets and interactions. But the practice of linking to third-party sources on a brand’s Twitter account, while important, can be dangerous.
As I said, scheduling tweets, especially if you’re scheduling several days’ worth of tweets, can take a significant amount of time out of the workday. To make the process faster, it’s tempting to “skim” articles linked in tweets.
But when you include links in a brand’s tweets that don’t lead to content said brand created (like the brand’s website, blog posts or other social channels), you’re linking to third-party content. And since you’re managing a brand and not a personal account, you’re essentially advocating or approving of that content because, for brands on Twitter, “opinions are my own” disclaimers are noticeably absent from bios.
What happens if you link to content that is…?
- Incorrect: Imagine if I (tweeting for an expert plumber client) sent a tweet with a link to third-party content that incorrectly advised how to install a kitchen faucet. Consumers who followed the client expect that information to be correct, regardless of if said client wrote it because the brand tweeted it. By not fully reading the content and checking it for correctness, I’m losing my client followers (best case scenario) and jeopardizing my client’s online reputation (worst case scenario).
- A Hoax: Celebrity injury and death hoaxes spread like wildfire across the Internet, and it’s not unheard of for reputable sources to tweet the incorrect information as fact. But when the hoax is unmasked, those brands that tweeted the “news” link are left with egg on their handles. (Get it?)
- Libelous: To my knowledge, there are currently no laws governing libelous accusations on social media. And it seems some tweets will never have their consequences. But more and more, we’re seeing punishments for threatening and libelous tweets. Even retweets can get a Twitter user in trouble. Thoroughly reading third-party content before tweeting is a simple way to keep your clients from running into future legal trouble.
Sure, these examples are extreme. And yes, it’s likely you can link third-party content you haven’t read to your client’s Twitter handle without any serious ramifications. But is eliminating those extra minutes of reading really worth losing a paying client while branding your company as careless worth it? So please, as tempting as it is, always, always, always read the content from your links thoroughly before tweeting.
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Do you manage client Twitter profiles? Do you always read your third-party content before you tweet?
photo credit: raoultrifan