There’s a great line in a USA Today article (“What Would Shakespeare Tweet?”) on the art of writing a status update, whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter: “… Next year, only the best tweeters will survive.”
Not only did this set off tunes in my head (remember Gloria Gaynor’s hit song “I will survive”?), but the article also made me pause and consider whether my own personal tweets are interesting or read more like a personal diary. Am I communicating well, no matter the audience, when I use these tools?
There are no clear rules yet on the use of these tools. Many people use twitter for information that is more work- or professional development-related, whereas Facebook largely tends to targeted to friends and family. Are we setting the right tone with this approach?
There is a definite art to tweeting and posting status updates. However, some general rules (and common sense) apply just as they would to more traditional communication methods:
First, don’t bad mouth your boss, a client, a project, your brother, your boyfriend/girlfriend – it’s just bad form and will always come back to bite you.
Second, remember that these are communication tools that can disseminate information very quickly to an unknown number of people (think of all the people in your network… and the number of people in each of their networks, etc.). There’s a line in When Harry Met Sally, when “Sally” (Meg Ryan) and “Harry” (Billy Crystal) are talking outside the diner (yes, THAT diner with THAT scene), and Sally says “You can’t take it back – it’s already out there.” Do you get it? The same theory holds true with social media – once it’s out there, it’s out there… you can’t take it back.
Third, if you’re going to provide information that is intended to be useful or thought provoking, provide more than a and headline and a link. Tell me (within the 140 character limit of Twitter) why I should care – why is that tidbit of information valuable to me?
I’m sure I’m missing some key rules, but these are the ones that came to mind as I read this article. I’d love to hear from you about other rules, pet peeves related to social media, and more.
Contributed by Terri Larson, 2009 President – PRSA Houston