For public figures, the digital age means one thing: a 24-7 rolling press conference. Think about it. We have around-the-clock cable news stations, social networks, newswires, bloggers, tweeters, and diggers. Everyone is in PR, and everyone needs a PR person.
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That's exactly why anyone with even a foot in the public eye has to have someone who keeps tabs on their social image, particularly on Twitter. Twitter has been used to break stories, from former N.Y. Rep., Anthony Weiner's, uh, picture problems, to the death of Osama Bin Laden. It's fast, it's organic, and it has a way of letting the truth rise to the top.
So whether you represent an A-list celebrity or a handful of local public figures, here are ten tips and strategies for how to manage a related Twitter account.
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1. Leave Some Mistakes Alone
Don't apologize for every spelling and grammatical error you make on Twitter. By sending out another tweet to say you’re sorry for misspelling “eccellent” you’re simply calling attention to it all over again.
Iowa senator and active Twitter user, Chuck Grassley tried to fire back against criticism that his tweets are chock full of spelling mistakes. The back and forth turned a few tweets into a news story. That's probably not what the senator wanted.
It's also just as important not to criticize someone else’s spelling mistakes. A reporter from the Seattle area made fun of the typos and spelling errors in his colleagues’ work. They were re-tweeted widely. The result: a very stern reprimand from his boss.
2. Say You're Sorry When it Counts
Do say you're sorry for sending out incorrect or bad links in a tweet, and be sure to include the right link in the apology. Links are extremely valuable and can give authority to the source. This is especially important if you’re sending people to a branded site that’s having a special event, a sale, or in breaking news situations.
3. Add Personality That’s Positive
Social media is like the new reality TV because it allows people to see personal pictures, life stories, and even intimate conversations by others via Twitter. Use that to your advantage and connect with followers and friends by sharing benign, but somewhat personal details. For example, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a very active tweeter, sent out a tweet reassuring everyone he was okay after saving a woman from a burning building. But he also shares tweets about what’s happening in his city.
What not to do? Definitely don't send out personal tweets that contain too much information that no one really wants to know. Case in point, Jose Canseco: “I am on the toilet thinking about writing a third book.” No thanks.
4. Follow With Care
Many people on Twitter are under the impression that it’s good manners to follow those who follow you, but beware! The people you follow become your Twitter family. People do look at who you follow and they can and do form opinions based on your connections. While it may be tedious to do, before you follow someone, always ask yourself, “Is this person beneficial to my brand?”
Unfollow questionable people, (particularly if they are there only to irritate and goad you). Barack Obama who follows more than 650,000 people on Twitter was recently criticized for following some semi-erotic websites; he should take after his wife who follows only six very important people.
5. Return the Favor
Replying, re-tweeting, or simply responding to someone’s tweet can have a lot of long-term value. When artists, celebrities, or public figures do this it is the equivalent of an autograph.
When Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet was published, she tweeted about it and Moby, Deepak Chopra, Russell Simmons, Sheryl Crow, and Marianne Williamson re-tweeted it. Kris in turn tweeted back to all of them, which helped propel the book onto The New York Times bestseller list.
6. Be Conscious of Your Visuals
Pay attention to the pictures on your Twitter account. It's particularly important to filter your media grid because it may end up hurting your image down the line. In fact, you should look at every past image to make sure it's clean, and monitor future re-tweets or reply’s with images. To find your media grid, just click on “recent images” on the left side of your profile.
7. Take Ownership of a Hashtag
Hashtags allow people to gather around topics, events, and actions across platforms. Controlling dialogue is key in any public relations campaign –- and by “owning” a hashtag, you are shaping the dialogue and the discussion. Simply using a hashtag in every tweet and adding it to your profile description as the official hashtag will help specify your message.
In the U.K., #stayonyourfeet became a Twitter hit that went international. Football pundit Ray Wilkins used the phrase repeatedly during a Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur Champions League clash. Rio Ferdinand, a “twitterati” (he has more than one million followers) picked up on it, and #stayonyourfeet became a smash, even inspiring a line of t-shirts.
8. Avoid Picking Public Fights
When Lynn Hirschberg profiled the musical artist M.I.A. (Mathang “Maya” Arulpragasam) in The New York Times Magazine in May 2010 it did not end well.
After the story came out, M.I.A. tweeted the journalist's phone number to her more than 111,000 followers as a way to express her displeasure. Technically, Twitter could have completely taken down M.I.A.’s twitter account since her action violated Twitter Terms of Service. No matter what the story said, it was probably not worth possibly losing access to a major platform.
9. Search Your Name and Company Regularly
The amount of information in the digital arena can be very overwhelming but you should always beware of what appears on Twitter. By manually searching for terms related to your name, you can monitor items that may not track in something like TweetDeck.
10. Be Careful of Online and Offline Behavior
Don’t say or do something you don’t want the whole world to know about. It's possible that you said it in front of ten people, but if one camera is there it can end up online. An example of this is when Kris Humphries got caught partying with blonde beauties, while being married to Kim Kardashian.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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