In Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film The Birds, a town is paralyzed when birds viciously attack unsuspecting citizens. A remake of sorts is being done online and it’s called The Tweets. Designed to give the common man a voice to be heard, Twitter has now become a loaded gun for politicians and celebrities with which to shoot their feet. Everyday, bad tweets seem be pecking their way into the media creating more havoc and ill-will than promotion.

Certainly some are bigger offenders than others, but it’s not just the orange-crested loons making bad tweets. It’s companies too. So what’s a bad tweet and how do you rebound from them?

Think of Twitter as a ticker tape to the world. It’s a great way to quickly communicate with customers, vendors, fans, etc. Recently a well known marketing automation company released a tweet with “four-letter” words. It was trying to stand out with a catchy play on words, maybe appeal to a younger crowd I suppose, (As if only young people curse?) But in a business to business community to me that seems to go too far. Some try to slip through the cracks but they are always caught. At its core, Tweeting is another form of advertising and should not include anything you wouldn’t say on broadcast television or to your grandma. That said:

  • Don’t use vulgar words or sexy images
  • Avoid taking sides politically
  • Avoid religious or racial stereotypes
  • You can use humor, don’t make it edgy

The best advice I can give is wait. What might sound cool and clever when you think of it might sound incendiary the next day. So what if you don’t wait and impulsively Tweet something off color or controversial?

  1. Delete the tweet. No it doesn’t make it go away forever but it will slow the burn.
  2. Explain and apologize. Hit the wrong button? A victim of auto correct? Tell us what happened and we may believe you.
  3. Don’t explain and apologize. Sometimes we’re just plain wrong. It happens. Bite the bullet, admit fault, and move on.

Finally, entrust your social media posting to someone you’d tell your bank PIN. Yes, it’s that important. One celebrity may be facing jail time for posting a photo of an unsuspecting guest in a gym locker room, another in hot water for tweeting a racial slur, so if you choose to take flight on Twitter, take it seriously. Otherwise your company may be starring in its own horror story of its own.