OK - it was irresistable. @JesseWilkins posted a tweet about worst practices in social media situations and referred to the "Cisco Fatty" situation. Now I don't know about you but as I kill a little time eating at my desk I just had to Google that one and find out more about it.
Turns out it was an story of a Tweet gone wrong by a young woman named Connor Riley. She publicly tweeted a snarky comment about Cisco and the potential "fatty" paycheck and it blew up out of control before a few hours had passed. She wrote an interesting blog post about her experience. She apologized for her hubris but also noted an important point. Once a person has a large amount of followers on any social media outlet are they still that individual or are they now a media channel with a different type of responsibility in crafting the tone of their communication?
The reason she's discussing this is that what I might say to a few of my private friends is very different than what I'd publicize as I represent my company. Is that any different when you are suddenly @karuana with a ton of followers rather than Karuana, hanging out with her friends online.
The original Twitter user who blew the tweet up was a person with over a thousand followers. I would suggest that at that point you ARE a media channel and you DO have a responsibility to use good netiquette, be patient with others and don't sit in your cyber glass house and throw silicon based stones.
From a business perspective it is important to distinguish the tone of your voice on social media outlets from your "Press Release" voice and your "Web Marketing Voice". Twitterati don't like to be sold to, talked down to or hyped. Be cool, be real and don't toot your own horn too much. Got it?
In another example the other day as my feed ran itself on my 2nd monitor screen I suddenly saw the words "scumbags" and "CIO.com" in the same tweet. Folks were alleging that an author on CIO.com had stolen a SharePoint MVP's article to "appear knowledgeable".
Since I knew the author of the CIO article I was relatively certain that was not the case. As it turned out any similarity between the two articles was in theory only, certainly not in execution. The Twitterverse had loyally responded to the call of one of its own, but didn't fact check the situation before re-tweeting the insulting statement all over the feeds.
You can judge for yourself at these links:
CIO.com article by Russ Edelman (@russecm)
Spencer Harbar's Article (@harbars)
In the blogosphere plagerism is a real problem, however, I think its up to us to police ourselves but only do so when we have truly been ripped off. Enterprise Content Management is not a new idea and neither is ROI, true/hidden costs of development or other typical practices. There was no word for word duplication between the articles and Russ was not even aware that Spencer existed in the Universe before he started tweeting about "scumbags". Maybe he could have gotten in touch with Russ first before venting on Twitter.
CIO.com did not handle the situation on the social media channels well. They should have directly contacted Spencer and worked out any perceived difficulty. A short tweet that they would "appreciate" not being called scumbags doesn't work in today's world. Public action needs to be done swiftly and also IRL. Phones still work people - use them. Nothing can trump human to human contact in conflict resolution.
Both of these situations are good examples of how NOT to do things, and how people's reputations and careers can be hurt by not fact checking, pausing before hitting "submit" or just generally having some good manners. There's a reason that these are tenants of old school journalism.
Let's hope these situation will serve to educate the rest of us so we don't have to repeat these mistakes! Social media tools are powerful and should therefore be respected and wielded with care.