In data-driven marketing we do a lot of talking about owned, paid media and earned media, but one has to be careful. One can lead to the other. Say with Twitter, here’s a platform we own. You have your own Twitter account, you dictate the Tweets you release, when you release and how you release them. But if your Tweets get enough attention they can determine what gets released about you.

Case in point, this week New York University Fellow at the Center for Law and Security, Nir Rosen learned the hard way the power of a Tweet.  This past week CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the revolution in Cairo this past week when she was cut off from her team and sustained a brutal sexual assault and beating.  Rosen, like so many of us on Twitter, was quick to chime in, but just like the Twitter foible of Kenneth Cole, he chimed in the wrong way posting:

“Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal.”

Poor form and ultimately career ending, this Tweet is a classic example of what I like to call the Twitter Cocktail Party Syndrome.  Basically Twitter Cocktail Party Syndrome is when you get so comfortable with your little microcosm of Tweeps, people who you may converse with daily, that you start to believe you’re in your own parallel universe, a world full of friends you can banter back and forth with, sparing with off the cuff quips, you forget that ANYONE can read what you’re writing. (Provided you have a public Twitter handle.)  Sure, Twitter may create the feeling of a cozy little group of friends hanging out, but it is not what it appears to be.

You are in an open, highly searchable forum, where anything you post can and will be used against you.  Given how many brands are now on Twitter, trusting their Twitter persona to an individual or group of people, it’s critical to layout what is and isn’t appropriate conversation.

Think of it like when you were a little kid and you learned how to behave at the dinner table. Be polite, say please and thank you, answer the grownups questions, use your napkin and don’t spit your food out.

The same rules apply when it comes to your brands Twitter handle. Be polite, say please and thank you when asking customers to give you feedback or take a survey, answer Twitter users questions kindly and in a timely fashion, use your best judgment when engaging in the conversation and don’t spit out your food, aka air your dirty laundry, a crass joke or say anything your Grandma would be appalled by.

Remember this isn’t a cocktail party, this is the internet and it’s like a black box. It never forgets.