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Three Tips to Avoid Twitter Controversies

Posted: April 16, 2014, 1:51 p.m.
by Jonae Shaw.

There recently have been quite a few Twitter mishaps gaining a lot of media coverage. First, there’s the story of a 14-year-old girl who tweeted American Airlines pretending to be a terrorist. Not only was her account deleted, but she’s also been arrested, and there’s an investigation currently in process about whether she was honestly “joking.”  Then there’s US Airways, whose company’s account tweeted an unhappy customer a very graphic and inappropriate picture in response to her flight complaints.

I’m beyond shocked at both of these incidents, and I’m sure the repercussions will be severe. But why shouldn’t they be? It’s as if people, and companies, forget their basic home training as soon as they log on to Twitter.

Thus I’ve composed some tips for tweeting that may keep you from regretting that one life-changing tweet:

Nothing on Twitter (or social media in general) really goes away!

Don’t tweet something you know you shouldn’t, and then 30 minutes later delete it. By that time, at least one of your followers has already seen what you tweeted.

In US Airways’ situation, its tweet was online for a whole hour before company officials took it down, and the damage was already done. Once you put the content out there, no matter how long it’s “visibly” there, someone has seen it and it’s a direct reflection on you, your personal brand or your company.

Don’t tweet JUST for attention!

Yes, Twitter is a platform to build social relations with people who share interests and real-life connections. And yes, companies use Twitter as a platform to engage and inform their audiences. However, before tweeting, THINK!

If you’re too focused on how many retweets, favorites and followers you can get, you’re posting anything you think will gain attention — whether well-thought-out or not. In the case of to the 14 year old, her tweet received a lot of attention, gaining her more than 30,000 followers. However, what she thought would be a comical success, wasn’t!

The same with US Airways. I’m pretty sure the company could have strategically thought of a way better response that would have satisfied the customer, ensured that customer’s loyalty and looked good for US Airways as a company.

And finally, follow accounts that you would want to follow you!

As mentioned before, Twitter is about interaction and sharing content. If you’re an airline, you may choose to follow individuals you see tweeting about enjoying traveling. If you’re a 14-year-old girl, you may want to follow better friends who don’t encourage you to pretend to be a terrorist.

No matter your brand, following accounts related to what you’re interested in is vital to the success (or in the examples mentioned, lack of success) of tweeting.

Although these tips may seem simple and common sense, it’s always good to point them out, especially after this week’s Twitter controversies.

These tips are simple enough to easily be applied and truly benefit your presence on Twitter. When you contribute quality, well-thought-out tweets to followers who are interested in what you’re interested in, then they’re more likely to listen, believe and share your content for GOOD reasons.


  1. Post comment

    Great post! I think it also brings up the issue of crossing your professional life with your personal life. Would you want your employer or your competition publicizing who you follow on Twitter? Should you be promoting your brand on the same Twitter you use to voice negative feedback to other companies? For example, would you promote your brand above a Tweet complaining about bad service from a pizza delivery company?

  2. Post comment

    Thank you for the great Twitter advice! Many people need to be reminded of the repercussions of inappropriate tweets.

  3. Post comment

    I’m not a Twitter fan. But if I become one, I will keep these tips in mind.


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