Before the Olympics even start, Greek Olympian Voula Papachristou is out of the games. Papachristou was removed from her country’s Olympic team. Why? Because she tweeted a racial joke using her personal Twitter account. Papachristou apologized, but the damage had been done. The Greek Olympic Committee stated that Papachristou was “placed outside the Olympic team for statements contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic movement.”
That’s not the first time an offensive tweet has ended badly for a person or business. Remember the Motor City tweet by Chrysler last year?
An employee at Chrysler’s social media agency (mistakenly) tweeted a disparaging remark about drivers in Detroit. The problem? Chrysler had just spent $9 million on a Super Bowl ad as well as an “Imported from Detroit” advertising campaign that promoted Detroit and its people. In the end, the employee lost his job…and the social media agency lost its contract with Chrysler, which means the agency lost several million dollars—all because of a tweet.
While the stakes may not be that high for most people, the fact remains that an offensive tweet can be devastating…and, sometimes, damage cannot be undone.
So how can you avoid such a problem in the first place? Simple. Just follow the old adage: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Admittedly, that can seem a little restricting. But the idea behind it is to tweet the positive. That advice isn’t new in light of the Greek Olympian or Chrysler examples. In fact, an article on Tech N’ Marketing back in 2009 offered similar advice to business people who were navigating what to say and what not to say on Twitter. The article stated: “Just like you would not share extreme political views, sexist, or offensive views of any kind at an office event, so to Twitter.”
In other words, if you wouldn’t say it out loud during a business event or meeting, you should think twice about tweeting or retweeting. Just because you read a joke or have a moment of frustration, doesn’t mean you should share it. After all, you may end up offending (and turning away) clients and business associates.
So, instead, tweet about relevant news, answer questions, share tips, and so on. Keep your tweets positive…and Twitter will be a positive experience for you and your business.