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Social Media Marketing Best Practices In Twitter’s Open System

social media best practices ethics in online marketing I recently dealt with an unfortunate situation where one of my tweets was retweeted with the link replaced by the retweeter, thus implying I was endorsing his site (otherwise known as “retweet hijacking.”) You may have read my post (which I have since taken down – read on to find out why.)

My first reaction was one of utter disbelief. How someone could so openly “hijack” a tweet and infer my endorsement without anyone noticing, I don’t know. Maybe it happens more often than I realized; this was my first experience – I’d never heard of it before.

I figured the best way to approach this situation was via DM (direct message), however – long story short – the matter seemed to get out of hand with a barrage of unpleasant DM’s and @ messages from the hijacker directed to me; I then chose to write a blog post about what happened.

I also chose to identify the tweet hijacker by name. This caused further controversy in the Twitterverse; over 60 comments were left on my post and though 90% of my community seemed to support the decision to out the hijacker, 10% didn’t. Fair enough.

My intent in highlighting this incident was to educate others as to some unethical practices going on in Twitter and to rally support in not allowing this kind of behavior.

Could I have achieved my objective without naming names? Yes. Would I have made different choices in retrospect? Possibly. The way I see it is this: Twitter is already an open system; we are all “out” whether we realize it or not.

Who is the voice of your company in social media? It transpired that the person tweeting was a hired webmaster – to be the voice of a well-known, reputable company (I’ve since discovered).

A loyal customer got wind of the hijacking situation and alerted the company. The Assistant Vice President and President of the company contacted me directly. I ended up having a pleasant phone conversation with the President tonight. He was very apologetic, courteous and kind. I have a much better understanding for this company, their outreach and normal business practices.

As a gesture of goodwill, I assured the President I would edit my blog post to exclude his company’s name; however, I chose to take the entire post and all comments down instead. I’m grateful to all commenters who took the time to read my post and provide their valuable contribution.

What can we learn from this situation? Here’s what I believe:

  1. One very important lesson from this scenario is how vital it is to properly assess who is the voice and face of your company.
  2. Reputations need to be monitored rigorously by everyone from the solopreneur to Fortune 500 companies. (For the best book on managing – and repairing – reputations, see Radically Transparent by Andy Beal and Judy Strauss.)
  3. When there is a situation to deal with, do so quickly, courteously and effectively.

What are your thoughts? How would you react to someone intentionally hijacking/misrepresenting your tweets… or any message, for that matter? Do you think business best practices transcend all mediums and, if so, how do we uphold those practices in new media?

Mari Smith

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is widely known as the Premier Facebook Marketing Expert and a top Social Media Thought Leader. Forbes describes Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” IBM named Mari as one of seven women that are shaping digital marketing. Mari is an in-demand keynote speaker, corporate social media strategist, dynamic live webcast host, and popular brand ambassador. She is coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day, and author of The New Relationship Marketing.

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  1. Steve on July 10, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Mari thank you for your post.
    I think I have a simular situation. I have a group of people, using the same web address, that are poating on my updates. These updates are going out to my followers and not only confusing them but are making them very unhappy.
    I call them spammers, they are using my Twitter account to annoy my followers. I have tried to block these people but have not had any luck doing so. Does anyone have any suggestions?
    Thank you

  2. Donna WWAHHMpreneur on June 4, 2009 at 4:36 am

    So glad that I came across this blog post, Mari.

    Thanks for taking the time to delve into this highly charged topic so that we can all learn from it.

    Recently, while searching in twitter, I found an exact quote from my tweets with absolutely no attribution back to me.

    I wasn’t too pleased with it, but realize that the tweeter may not be familiar with re-tweetiquette, just yet.

    So, I simply sent him a thank you note as an RT. I felt like this was a way to let him know, if he doesn’t already, that there is a standard protocol for re-posting items and that others, including me, could see that I had posted that original message.

    This truly is an important topic…and I’m sure will only get more important as people continue to find new and interesting ways to use the twitterverse.

    I am going to assume that, just like napster and myspace and other sites, twitter will eventually need to become more proactive about dealing with plagiarism and pirating in the twitter stream.

    Maybe someone will (or already has) create a new app that scans the twitterverse for plagiarism and piracy and helps to yank it out of the twitter stream.

    Again, thanks for this awesome discussion.

    Donna WWAHHMpreneurs last blog post..Family MealTime Tips: Loving Fresh Veggies & Fruit

  3. Bindi on June 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

    You dealt with the situation fantastically Mari and it really highlights that we all need to be careful about who represents our company and ultimately our business and personal values. As a solopreneur it will make me think who I joint venture with and maybe not everyone out there is as honest as we would want!
    Thanks for all the value you add to twitter and facebook!

  4. Michele PW on May 26, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Mari,

    What I like most about this is how you say “we’re already out there.” I’m reminded of the woman offered a job by Cisco and tweeting about making a decision between a fatty paycheck and hating her job. I’m always amazed at how many people “forget” that the whole point of social networking is to be visible, hence everything you do is out there.

    I too am not sure I would have taken down the original blog post, although I understand why you did it. And I’m also wondering why 10% were so against you naming names. The truth of the matter is anyone could have found that name with a few minutes of searching, so what does it matter if you put it in your blog post or not?

    Good post Mari, as always. Thanks for using your lessons as learning examples for the rest of us.

    Michele PWs last blog post..Business Success — Lessons Learned from Ivanka Trump

  5. Michele Price on May 25, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Mari, one, it was a pleasure to meet you face to face this past weekend at Terry Wygal’s The BluePrint2. You were great! Your presentation was so informative it had everyone’s head spinning, (which I think is a good thing, shakes things up) that is usually what it takes for folks to take action, is someone who willing to shake things up a bit!

    You spoke about this situation and I love you and am disappointed you took the original post down. I do not believe it hurts the company at all for their name to be out there as there was a BIG mistake!

    This same company is now missing the blessing and icing on this opportunity by showing up in a way that allows for them to show to everyone they took creative and positive action. The Vice President is to be commended by taking proactive approach and that alone for me gives me room to appreciate and respect the company even more. So now they have lost an opportunity for good PR, giggle.

    I agree with Leesa Barnes that there is no lack of transparency when you make a decision concerning your own blog, it is yours and you do what YOU think is best. We are all human and I am reminded often, one of your badges of success is when you are on the top is you make an easy target for arrows. Does it feel good, NO we are human.

    It does give everyone an opportunity to remember we have a responsibility to call out others when we feel there has been an injustice or a lack of ethics. Funny thing in life, we all have different definitions to the same words from our individual experiences and beliefs. So, be prepared to back up your calling out, it is just not you or your “group of friends” perspective.

    Mari has always shown judicious and classic judegement and she rates in my book.

    Michele Prices last blog post..Breakthrough Business Strategies-Bob Burg The Go-Giver-Exploding Your Referrals

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