Dodging the Pitfalls of Twitter

Recently, I decided to return to the Twitter-verse. Suddenly, I find myself dashing to jump on top of popular hash tags on a daily basis, while striving to dodge the considerable pitfalls of Twitter.

Powerful promotional tool

Founded on the 21st March 2006, social media site Twitter has evolved into a considerable force online. According to Statista, a data tracking portal, as of the final quarter of last year, Twitter had a mind-blowing 305 million monthly active users.

The sheer size of Twitter makes the platform an incredibly powerful promotional tool. Celebrities like Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Beyonce count their followers not in the millions, but in the tens of millions. But you don’t have to be an a-lister to broadcast your views to an unbelievably huge audience. On Twitter you’re only ever one well-time hash tag away from going viral!

Watching my step

I originally joined Twitter (@JoeJamesDavis FYI) way back in 2011. I’m slightly ashamed to admit that I didn’t really understand the potential of the social networking site at that point, so I stopped using it. However, I was recently persuaded by my mother (@FelicityADavis, while we’re on the subject) to rejoin Twitter and I haven’t looked back ever since.

I’m really starting to get the hang of it; I capitalise on trending hash tags with the best of them! But something suddenly occurred to me recently. I’ve started Tweeting on my lunch break, meaning that more often than not I use my smartphone to access the site. Touch screens are evil; it’s so easy to miss-type or fall victim to the dreaded ‘predicted text’ feature when using them. What if I accidentally sent out a miss-spelled tweet? Would it make me look ridiculous? Would I make a real gaffe and put something offensive into the Twitter-verse without ever meaning to?

Reputation damaging

Once the wheels in my mind start turning, it’s near impossible to get them to stop. I’ve realised that there are so many ways to damage your reputation on Twitter. What if you use a hash tag without knowing what you’re talking about? What if you get into a Twitter-spat with another user? What if you ‘like’ something which appears innocuous, only later to discover it was extremely offensive?

That’s the thing about Twitter. The social networking site’s vast audience and tools like hash tags, which allow you to access said audience instantaneously, can make it a real double-edged sword. If you make a single slip up, you can potentially offend thousands of people in one fell swoop and inflict irreparable damage on your personal image.

How it goes wrong

In order to illustrate what I mean, let’s look at what happened to DiGiorno Pizza a while back. Momentology writes that the pizza brand sent out a Tweet which read “#WhyIStayed with pizza.” ‘#WhyIStayed’ was trending at the time, so using it to publicise their product obviously seemed like a good idea to DiGiorno Pizza in that moment.

What the company didn’t realise was that this hash tag was about domestic violence. By inserting themselves into this conversation via the #WhyIStayed hash tag, DiGiorno Pizza ended up creating a firestorm on Twitter. The resulting fallout deeply impacted their reputation online, significantly harming the firm’s brand in the eyes of its target consumers.

Think before Tweeting

Since returning to this king of social media sites, I’ve learned that it’s vital you think before you Tweet. Once you’ve composed your post check it, check it again and check it a third time just to make sure. If you don’t, you could fail to dodge the pitfalls of Twitter and do real damage to the way you’re perceived online.

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