Laying Down the Twitter Law
Twitter has fundamentally changed our lives, whether we like it or not.
And people have written miles of books, blog posts and even tweets about best practices and what matters on Twitter. One of the biggest things that is almost universally agreed upon is to be genuine. So how do we as public relations professionals remain genuine when we’re asked to tweet about a client?
Fundamentally you are free to talk about whatever the hell you want with your Twitter stream. It’s your content. It’s your copyright. It’s your reputation.
Your reputation? Yeah, your reputation. You put it on the line each and every time you post something to the public domain. When I hit publish on this post, I was subjecting myself to the judgment of past, present and future employers. It’s the same thing with Twitter.
If your precedent is to include links to client announcements or blog posts, then that’s fine. You’ve willingly shared that information. After all, without clients we wouldn’t be able to pay the electric bill so we could tweet, right? There is a conception that all posts in a social network should be neutral and objective. If you have a relationship, some feel it should be disclosed either up front or by using hash tags or other microsyntax. For example, James Governor from the analyst firm Redmonk uses “$client” to denote posts to his Twitter stream about his paying clients.
And that’s a judgement call you will have to make.
But what about when your employer says you must tweet on a client’s behalf?
I see a potential for conflict when an employer mandates that an employee tweet on its behalf. Making a choice to share the announcement of a project you’ve worked on or a blog post from a co-worker is one thing.
Being told what to tweet and when to tweet it is another beast. The argument is that it’s not genuine. If you don’t want to post it, then why should you be obligated to? I’m all for being a team player. But sometimes you need to protect the community and precedent you have created. I don’t know what the right answer is. So, I’m asking you.
How would you respond to being given a pre-written tweet and being asked to post it? Would you? Why or why not?