Twitter power – how social media can make or break you in minutes.

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Sometimes, the best case studies for advertising, marketing and PR are in day to day events. In recent days, I noticed two excellent examples of the power of social media, Twitter in particular. Read on to see how one Twitter entry made a 23-year old famous around the world in minutes. And led to global embarrassment for a very senior person in the field of PR. Just one little ‘tweet’ is all it takes!

First, for the positive impact that a post on Twitter can have. The story that will make you feel good…

Minutes after a US Airways plane made an emergency landing in the Hudson river, Janis Krums who was on a nearby ferry posted this picture on Twitpic.com:

Us Airways Plane in Hudson

US Airways Plane in Hudson (Picture by Janis Krums)

News networks picked up the picture as it spread around the world – it currently has been viewed 381069 times! His now famous Tweet echoed around the world. It simple said:

There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.

In the next couple of days, Janis was interviewed by CNN, MSNBC, Good Morning America, the BBC, to name a few. And, of course, in the blogging and Twitter world, he was well applauded for his citizen journalism (he had given his phone to a passenger on the plane after he sent out the pic). This is what he says about the power of his use of social media on his blog:

I think it is incredible that anyone at any point can have such an impact by simply posting a picture online.

That was the first ‘case study’ I want to share in illustrating the power of social media today – and the instant and global impact even one small entry or picture could have.

The other case study is one that makes many a blogger uncomfortable. Where do you draw the line between posting your status and conducting yourself professionally? What if your Twitter entry is all about how you are feeling and it’s read by your clients and bosses and passed around in the company mail? How do you handle that? Here’s someone who faced a similar type of situation. With one tweet on Twitter.

On his way to Memphis, New Yorker James Andrews, VP at Ketchum – the PR agency, posts this on Twitter, about the home town of the client he is going to meet:

True confession but i’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say “I would die if I had to live here!”

The Twitter post got picked up by FedEx and this is what they had to say in their official statement about Andrews’ tweet about Memphis, as reported in the excellent blog coverage of this issue on David Henderson’s blog:

This lapse in judgment also demonstrates the need to apply fundamental communications principles in the evolving social networking environment: Think before you speak; be careful of you what you say and how you say it. Mr. Andrews made a mistake, and he has apologized. We are moving on.

Now, this fiasco too found its way around the world – prompting a prompt apology by Ketchum and Andrews. “My most recent situation underscores the need for important dialogue around how we use this space,” Andrews writes on his blog inviting further dialogue on this issue.

So, dear reader of this blog by a copywriter in the UAE, what do you think is the right way to handle things? Is it nobler in the mind to quietly suffer the vagaries of life? Or is it cool to tweet to life’s tune and let the world join in?

Would you allow clients to follow you on Twitter? And then keep self-censoring yourself thinking whether you are conducting yourself professionally or not when you Tweet? Or would you keep it real and be who you are on Twitter,  Facebook, your blog? Comments are open

Let the ‘dialogue’ begin 😉

Oh, and if you want to read a real life story from Dubai, UAE on how a single picture on a blog led to global media coverage for a Dubai job seeker, read my post on the Redundant Porsche message guy Andrew Blair.

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4 Comments

  1. Almost all online social networking applications allow the user to control who gets to look at their information. It is common practice for companies/professionals to have a ‘professional’ presence (e.g. a Facebook page, group, or profile) carrying the name of the company, and they post company related updates there.

    For example, you can have a Twitter (or WatWet, for Arabic users) account under the name ‘@CopywriterFarrukh’ and use that for your professional tweets, then create another account ‘@FarrukhNaeem’ and use that for your personal tweets. Block any person who signs up to follow your personal tweets and add/direct them to @CopywriterFarrukh instead (if you don’t want them to see your personal messages).

    Reply
    • That’s a very useful comment, Issmat. Thanks for adding value to the post this way.

      It gets exciting when a corporate blog becomes a little personal with, say, the CEO of a global brand writing about how he spent his weekend – thereby humanising the company somewhat. It’s on the edge of the two clear cut options you commented about but I think that’s where the fun lies 😉

      farrukh

      Reply
  2. So, you’re saying one needs to have two personalities online, and hope that professional colleagues only look at the one meant for them. Maybe have one real name and one fake name?

    farrukh

    Reply
  3. Twitter, like many other online social networking and web 2.0 /3.0 applications, is a tool that must be used with common sense in mind.

    The concept is similar to regular emailing etiquette. Would you forward a personal note about your discontent with your boss to an email list that includes your family as well as clients and/or business associates? Probably not.

    So I remain confused about people who just don’t seem to be able to apply that same basic logic that would govern their email communication to their social networking.

    If you are on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, etc, for professional networking reasons, then create a separate account for that purpose and only use it to post updates and tweets that are relevant to the kind of people who you add on that account.

    To share your personal life, thoughts, and shenanigans with people you trust (friends and family for example), have a separate personal account and rant all you want about your job, your life, and everything else.

    Reply

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