5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Tweet Professionally

4 Sep

While several million people pile into Twitter, the Millenial Short Form Brain Nugget Sharing Service, lots of folks are wondering, “How do I manage my work-related persona in these memed-out, darling-and-pundit-infested waters?”

Truth is, tons of folks are readily mixing work and pleasure online. In fact, it’s been going on for years; I think it used to be called business networking, or something. Or, maybe just networking? I think the Social Media label throws the whole thing off – as if it were a new frontier. Also, it doesn’t help that a whole new breed of expert has cropped up; Twitter is crowded with self-proclaimed Social Media Mavens, for example.

What will you bring to the space? It’s all up to you. Welcome to the Loyal Order of the Birdbrains.


So, are you unsure about whether your personal and work lives should overlap? At the risk of dropping quadruple negatives, here are 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Tweet Professionally:

1. You’re Not Comfortable with Your Personal and Work Lives Spilling Into Each Other.
You haven’t discovered the concept of managing access to “those” photos on your Facebook. You regularly interact with social technology (phones, email, twitter, etc.) while in a state of diminished mental faculties. Or, maybe you just think it’s weird for your “work friends” to know your “non-work friends.” Maybe you wear a tinfoil hat and are really concerned about privacy, anonymity, and being an invisible, one-dimensional personality online. If this is the case, don’t tweet professionally.

2. You’re Not Funny.
Several ill-funded, half-hearted, and poorly-thought out attempts to deconstruct “cool” or map the route from the underground to the mainstream have taught me that trying to peg the currency of community to one single attribute of communication. However, this Wired article does a fantastic job of boiling down what makes something particularly interesting and tying it to humor, of all things; community’s funny money, as it were. While just plain old listening is a big part of a TwitterPro approach, sooner or later you’re going to have to fire something back to show that you’re a real person; it’ll help if you can bring a smile to someone’s face. If you’re chuckle challenged, you may want to avoid trying to be do business in the social space.

3. You’re Not “Good with People.”
As we venture into a connected world as ambassadors for our brands, we should expect to be sought out for our knowledge of our companies, influence in our industries, and the products/services provided by our companies. As a worst case scenario, you could be someone who is solely in charge of “taking the specs from the customers to the engineers” but who’s assistant physically does your job, in all actuality. If you’re not interested in being contacted about work (thus actually creating more work for you, on some level) via a relatively open social network, you should probably avoid tweeting officially.

4. You Don’t Have a Blog or Somewhere Else to Continue the Conversation.
On Twitter, there’s not a lot of space to editorialize or discuss. Confucius aside, substance and wisdom are hard to come by in 140 char… !

(That’s 140 characters, folks. Ideally you’ve got Facebook, a blog, a Tumblr thing, or some actual service platform where you can say more than … -6) Doh.

You get the point.

5. You Can’t Actually Help Your Company’s Customers.

If you’re not willing to lend a hand, offer advice, point collegues and customers in the right direction, or even talk about work stuff, you may want to keep your tweets strictly casual. Now, the reality is that it’s very cute these days to get a reply from @zappos or some other CSR via Twitter. There are only a few million people on Twitter (here’s a blog post with a pretty interesting guess on this actual number.) I have a feeling that when the twitterverse population approaches weekly Walmart shoppers (in 2005, for example, it looks like 138MM folks wandered into Walmart every week), customer care via may not be so charming or novel. It should be interesting to see develop.

I am sure “social business casual” will rule, for now…but, if you don’t want to be exposed for being completely useless at work via Twitter, don’t talk about work on Twitter.

There you have them – 5 more reasons to keep to yourself and work less. Observing these easy guidelines, and there’s a good chance that you shouldn’t tweet professionally – inextricably mixing the “work you” with your personal social network. Whatever you want to call it, “Channel Me,” the Twitterverse…it’s all the same. It’s semi-professional business networking, and it’s been around a lot longer than bowling leagues.

Since social technology has brought business networking to every swiveling task chair in the world, I wonder if the golf courses and bowling alleys are thinning out.Next up, my social media campaign to save analog, non-Wii leisure sports.

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