Colin Delany October 22, 2012

Learning Social Media Lessons — the Hard Way

Guest article! Kayle Hatt sends this from Canada, where a certain politician should have listened the advice advice he gave in a popular Epolitics.com piece:

Long-time Epolitics.com readers may remember my August, 2010 post on the need for candidates to be cautious with social media. The sixth practical tip I offered was:

Ask yourself….

6. Can this be misinterpreted? Am I communicating what I want to communicate?

Many social networking posts are space-limited (Twitter is 140 characters. Facebook is 365) and because of space limitations there is a tendency to cut posts. Beware of misinterpretations. Read and re-read your message looking for possible misunderstandings or double-entendres.

Also you many want to consider if you can actually make a nuanced argument or statement on some issues in 140 characters. Perhaps it might be better to make a 300 word blog post on taxes, for example, and then tweet about the blog post including a link rather than making a space-limited-post that could be misinterpreted.

Well, here’s a politician that should have listened to that advice….

In Canada right now there is an issue involving beef recalls from a major Alberta producer. Recently, the company, in the process of dealing with the scandal and starting up again, dumped tonnes of possibly-tainted beef in a local landfill. In response, Alberta Wildrose Party leader (the second-place party — yes, we know, Canada’s complicated) tweeted that the meat could be used to feed the homeless.

As might be expected, there was a little public outrage over this and she retracted the comments, saying the tweet was “a mistake.” Here’s a choice quote: “Smith told an open line radio show that if you can’t explain your position in 140 words on Twitter, you shouldn’t try.” Sounds a little familiar, eh?

Thanks for the cautionary tale, Kayle! We have been warned…. –cpd

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