Skip to content

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.

More Posts - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn


  1. Sandra on May 24, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Mair, kudos to you! I certainly understand and fully support your action, knowing that I would probably have reacted in a like fashion. You did try to deal with the situation privately through DM, but obviously the culprit did not have the sense to redeem himself in private. I’m happy that the company showed professional etiquette and made things right! No professional entity desires that kind of publicity, especially it is without their sanction. I probably would have left the initial blog posted minus the company’s name. As for the culprit I’d have left his/her name out there so the social community is made aware of his/her identity. I have noticed that nowhere did you mention an apology or any showing of remorse by him/her. This says plenty!

  2. Charlotte Howard on May 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Mari, I think yo have handled this quite well. That is horrible that people would be doing such harsh things to someone so helpful as you.

  3. Del Williams on May 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Mari, always so gracious. Not sure I would have taken down the original post, but would have taken out the names. Seems bad form that you had to go to the top of a company because of an over zealous highjacker. I do hope is out of a client and that he will learn from this.

  4. Doug McIsaac on May 11, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    I agree with a couple of the other commenters, I wouldn’t have taken the post down. But I would have added an update to the top of the page.


    Doug McIsaacs last blog post..Google Friend Connect is Changing Social Media Marketing

  5. The Baum Group/Dr. Rae and Associates on May 11, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you Mari for sharing this very important message.

  6. Brad Hanks on May 10, 2009 at 6:11 am


    Great post, and food for thought for those companies looking to establish a social media presence where none existed before.

    Common sense and ethical behavior still hold true with these “new tools” – a different platform doesn’t mean that everything we’ve learned goes out the window. Give credit where credit is due.

  7. Leesa Barnes on May 9, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    Whoops, in the 3rd to last paragraph, I meant to say:

    To Rodney, on the one hand I agree with you that Mari (I misspelled her name) should’ve kept the post up. Maybe just close the comments. Put a strikethrough through the areas of her blog content (not the comments) that are no longer valid.

    Leesa Barness last blog post..3 Ways to Handle Content Theft Online Without Getting a Lawyer Involved

  8. Leesa Barnes on May 9, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    Wow, where do I begin? I’ve been in my fair share of battles online.

    I was in a situation where I wrote a very angry blog post about the excuses that a trade magazine gave for not including more female writers.

    I received alot of comments on that post – 50% supported my viewpoint, the other 50% did not.

    Then I went to sleep. The next morning, I re-read my blog post and it was TOTALLY out of character. It was more negative than usual and I was absolutely embarrassed by what I wrote.

    So I removed the post and followed up with another blog post explaining why.

    To Rodney, on the one hand I agree with you that Mary should’ve kept the post up. Maybe just close the comments. Put a strikethrough through the comments that are no longer valid.

    On the other, if Mari felt like I where her post was written out of hurt and anger and the tone was completely out of character for the bubbly Mari, then removing it is her decision. I don’t think she lacks transparency because she removed a post off HER blog. If she changed the blog post altogether, then that’s dishonest. But to remove it? Naw, I can’t see how that’s a lack of integrity.

    Here’s the post explaining my situation from 2006:

    Leesa Barness last blog post..3 Ways to Handle Content Theft Online Without Getting a Lawyer Involved

  9. Rodney Rumford on May 9, 2009 at 9:03 am

    OK…Can I just elaborate bit right now? Removing posts under fire is NEVER the RIGHT thing to do if the FACTS are correct.

    Again: I really can’t fully appreciate what happened here because you REMOVED the post. Was he a potential client so you caved? Did he pay you to remove the post? Was legal action threatened? … seriously my mind can only guess since you removed the point of reference in the conversation.

    So much for your transparency…

    The removal of the post only adds to the lack of transparency. Additionally; as a frequent blog commenter on blog posts; removal of a post blows away the comments and all of the energy, effort and thought that went into your readers contributing their thoughts. You did them a huge disservice by silencing them as a side effect of removing the blog post.

    A word to wise. Get some thick skin Mary and let it roll off your back and NEVER remove a blog post again. I mean this in the most positive way. If you can’t handle the heat; quit blogging.


    Rodney Rumfords last blog post..Facebook Stream Breaks Out of the Walled Dam

  10. Chris Bittinger on May 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm


    I appreciate your transparency on this post. I think you did the right thing and I am glad the President took the initiative to reach out to you.

    Do you now recommend putting your Twitter status on private because of this experience?

Scroll To Top