Another week, another Twitter PR disaster. By now, no doubt you’ll have heard about the whole Gillian McKeith debacle: if not, you can find a useful summary on the Guardian website.
There is nothing the usually benign (though swift to become a baying horde) citizens of Twitter-like less than duplicity. McKeith’s big mistake was not in trying to defend an unpopular view: Twitter is populated with many millions of users doing just that every day, both for comedic and more sinister purposes.
Her mistake was in subsequently trying to cover up her comments. That she did so ineffectually barely matters: even if all trace had been eradicated from her own website; even if her dissenters hadn’t been carefully taking screenshots and retweeting for future evidence, McKeith is clearly unaware that these days, almost all web presence is aggregated, mirrored, and pushed out in countless places across the Internet.
Forget the Wayback machine: these days Twitter has its own archive. Furthermore, many folks link up their Facebook and Twitter profiles, and perhaps throw LinkedIn to the mix, too, meaning that your words are spread far beyond a single website. Then there are sites which collect all tweets on a certain subject and replicate them – without so much as a by your leave.
In short, your Twitter status updates, and all web content should be thought of as a permanent record. That’s why, if you are representing your business online, you should exhibit the utmost transparency and honesty – and furthermore, you should think carefully about which members of your business you trust to do the same.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll keep on saying it: social media is a fantastic tool for business promotion, but for heaven’s sake be careful what you write.