How not to behave on Twitter, 4 tips

It seems to be the week for airlines on twitter. First there is the Dutch teenager who tweeted American with a threat, and now US Airways tweeted a picture of poor relevance and bad taste.

Although I’m on twitter, I’m not always paying attention to it which means I did not see the US Airways photo before it was removed, but apparently it was a 777 and a woman in a compromising position.

So, how should you behave on twitter?

  1. Well, obviously, think of every tweet as if it will go viral.  Do you use your real name and picture?  If so, would you like it if your parents, boss, or minister/rabbi/imam saw the post?  If not, don’t post it.  Too many people get fired over venting.  If you need to vent, don’t do it in a forum that is being archived by the Library of Congress.  You never know when you may run for office and of course this stuff will magically appear again.  You may have thought the person was a cheapskate and didn’t tip you well and thus warranted public blasting, but that person may end up being the very person you need later in life.
  2. Don’t post personally identifiable information on Twitter.  Airlines are great on Twitter and I prefer dealing with @DeltaAssist more than any other method with Delta, but never send information in a public tweet.  Don’t send confirmation numbers, reward program numbers, etc in a public tweet.  Direct message them.  You should usually be able to DM an airline without sending a normal tweet to them first so you can skip the “@DeltaAssist I’m SM# 2000000000 and I need some help getting from ATL-JNB on PNR AAA111.” and just send that as a DM.  With Delta you can associate your twitter handle with your profile so Delta knows who you are right away.
  3. Just remember, Tweets are not really deleted.  In the case of the US Airways tweet, although they removed it very quickly, people still managed to save it.  In the digital age, assume once it’s out there, it’s out there.
  4. Be careful with the “Please rob me” type posts.  Like “Hey, I’m going to be out of the country for May 1-15, can someone watch my dog?” because twitter is open.  Don’t post that on Facebook either unless your profile is pretty locked down, and some would say don’t even do it then.  I know I use Foursquare to check in and occasionally tweet where I am when I am there, but my house is guaranteed to not be empty.  If you need a dog sitter or want to brag about your vacation, make sure you do not make it obvious that your place will be unattended.  Don’t post dates publicly if this is the only way you can think to post.  Just say “I need a dog sitter this summer, PM me if you are able to help” and follow up through private message or take it offline and handle through the phone/text since I’m assuming you know these people.

So: Don’t put something you wouldn’t want to go viral.  I mentioned earlier that I no longer complain about airlines, etc on Twitter because I got the feeling that I was just whining all the time and if my twitter feed was taken out of context I would appear like a whiner.  That is not the first impression I wanted to make.