To Tweet or Not To Tweet, That is the Question.

It doesn’t take much effort to find more information than you need or want to hear in any given Twitter stream.  Give some folks a keyboard and pretty much anything can happen. With social networking becoming a social norm, repercussions of unwise tweeting can be a big deal – especially for businesses. 

For any business with a Twitter account, what you tweet is who you are as a company. There is no contextual side note or room for explanation.  Every tweet is a 140 character first impression, and should be treated as such.

A case in point is CNN’s Octavia Nasr’s use of Twitter.   As reported today by Mashable, Ms Nasr’s tweet marking the passing of Lebanese cleric Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah had a very negative effect on the public’s perception of her as an impartial journalist.  In whatever context or framework she may have meant her comments, all the world saw was that she views him as “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect alot”

As a public face representing a news organization, this message did not go over well, necessitating Ms Nasr’s resignation as Senior Editor of Mideast Affairs for CNN.

The lesson here?  Putting just anything out on your business’ Twitter stream is just not wise.

So, just what is the best way to use Twitter if you are running a business?  First, remember that for business,  it is not an advertising, political or personal platform.  It is a conversation with current, new and potential clients.   If you would not share certain information when greeting a new customer walking in your door, there is no reason to send it over Twitter.

Paul Sutton offers Twitter stream tips that make so much of sense.  He feels that ideally a Twitter stream should “consist of about 30% conversational @replies, 30% retweets and 40% interesting broadcast tweets, hopefully with an opinion or link, of which only about 25% (10% of total tweets) are self-promotional.

The bottom line is that indiscriminate tweeting will not benefit your business.  Have a plan, offer value and think before you or your employees tweet.

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