How Not to Tweet

Business and individuals have posted content on social media sites, only to regret it. In some cases, immediately.  Only recently, SMC member Melissa Pont posted a great article about social media brand failures that I’m sure the companies regretted.  At least, I hope they did.

While this article will probably bring at least one chuckle to you, there is a serious side to it as well, which you’ll see as you read it.  I’m using Twitter for all of my examples, but the concept applies to all forms of social media.

I’m starting off with the recent tweet by former PR executive Justine Sacco.  You may be familiar with it.  As you can see from the picture, she made a very insensitive tweet last year that ended up costing Sacco her job.  You would think that someone who claims to be a public relations professional would have the common sense not to make such a tweet.


Next comes a tweet made by comedian Gilbert Gottfried:


The tweet was made soon after the typhoon disaster that devastated Japan, killing many people.  The ironic thing is that if he’d made the same comment during one of his stand up routines, he might have gotten some laughs out of it.  As it was, this tweet cost him his job as the voice of the Aflac duck.

My third example is one that I’ve liked to use as an example for awhile now.  Phil Hardy worked as a staffer for Idaho Representative Raul Labrador.  He was fired for accidentally posting this after seeing a commercial for 2 Broke Girls during the 2013 Super Bowl.


Hardy did not realize that he was using the congressman’s account when he made the tweet.  He realized his mistake and deleted the tweet within seconds, but it was in vain.  Poiltwoops, a group that monitors social media accounts from politicians saw it and archived it.

Lastly comes a tweet made by someone I’ve never heard of before, but when I looked for tweets to include with this article, I found more than I could ever use.  Read the tweet for yourself and see if you can tell what’s wrong with it.


Moral of the story, you ask?  Forget privacy settings or any kind of technical issue designed to keep people out of trouble from their social media activity.  The best way to avoid being embarrassed or worse is to use some good judgment and common sense before you click your mouse button.

Joe Yeager is a marketing analyst and social media administrator for a leading B2B manufacturer in the professional dental market. He is also a freelance writer and adjunct faculty member. Please follow him at @JosephMYeager.