Do Only Twits Tweet?

(This is my most popular blog post ever, and I’m sharing it as I work my way back from Thanksgiving. Before you go further, let me warn you this is opinionated.)

mind your manners title pageMy twitter and Facebook following grows daily— over 50,000 amazing individuals now! As part of the platform-building process, I monitor the people who follow me, ensuring they don’t repeatedly offend my core demographic, which leans right.

My friends in daily life represent diverse preferences, come from all walks of life and belief systems (almost), and are a great group of humans. They are each uniquely marvelous, and I am thankful for every one. I hope my twitter followers, blog readers, and Facebook “friends” are the same.

But my real-life friends also are well-behaved. They understand the importance of presenting themselves professionally, monitoring their mouths, and acting with grace and polish. They know their electronic presence develops an image vastly more far-reaching than their real-life reputation, and recognize bad behavior can harm them, and limit their futures.

So what’s the deal with airing sarcastic, profane, angry rants in public? I am so confused.

Dinosaurs roamed the earth when I was in college, but my profs taught about institutional marketing. It’s now called “branding,” but it’s how an entity is positioned in the public eye. Apple and Starbucks are two examples of formidably effective institutional marketing; British Petroleum and AIG (most disliked corporation in America in 2012) are not.

Every facebook post, blog entry, and tweet is a piece of institutional marketing. It’s either going to hurt you, or help you— and you control which it does! It’s going to make you look talented and conscientious, or it’s going to convey failure and futility. The electronic data congeals into an image — a brand — that facilitates more accomplishment, or condemns an endeavor to fail.

I don’t know about you, but tossing information into the great Internet abyss is scary enough. Posting snide negativity and sharing combative dirt from daily life appears suicidal to me. There’s just too much at stake, and too few second chances in cyberspace.

Who can afford to be a tweeting twit?

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