Twitter “Unfollowers” Should Be More Like Nike
You might be wondering, from reading the title, what exactly this has to do with public relations. It has everything to do with it. I’ll explain:
In recent weeks, I’ve noticed the strangest phenomenon at social networking website Twitter: It seems that there are more people there talking about “unfollowing” others than there are people who need to be unfollowed. This bothers me especially because a good number of people doing this are so-called “PR professionals.”
PR professionals don’t talk about “unfollowing” on Twitter.They just do it.
And let’s get this out of the way early: Unfollowing isn’t evil.
Let me be clear, Twitter is an amazing place, but stay long enough, and you’ll definitely run into a few “Tweople” that need to be unfollowed. Everyday, it seems, we’re beseiged with hundreds– perhaps thousands– of tweets, or mini-status messages from people we’re following. These messages range from extremely useful, to equally useless, depending on the individual reading them, and his or her purpose for being on the site to begin with. But it’s obvious that many people abuse the privilege of tweeting, and there are more than enough shameless self-promoters, mindless spammers, and simply clueless tweeters to prove that statement.
Don’t Call People Out.
There is no need, however, to publically announce when you unfolllow someone– or even worse– call out names with “@ mentions”. Trust me, I’ve seen it.
Both of these actions are the digital equivalent to shouting aimlessly (quite similar to flaming, if you think about it). Why do I say this? Because the noise that is created when you post:
“Ugh!!!! One of my followers is so #*%!$# annoying!! There are liek, 50 people I need to #unfollow! Especially @[insert username here]!!”
. . . is, to the rest of us, pretty much equivalent to the noise coming from the person that you just unfollowed. They’re both meaningless drivel that adds nothing of value to the community Twitter stream; in fact, they both take away. But unfollowing isn’t the rude part; it’s talking about it afterward that is.
The post-unfollow “gloat tweet” is not only rude, but also unprofessional.
Honestly, what’s the need to broadcast to the world that you don’t find someone’s tweets useful? And for public relations professionals, especially, it doesn’t do much to help clients or careers. Seems to me every tweet complaining about others is a wasted opportunity to provide real value to others.
If you spend any significant length of time on the site, you probably know that your taste in tweets may change over the course of a few months. When I first signed up last summer, for example, I primarily interested used the site to stay in touch with my friends. As I have built my career, however, I’ve found Twitter to be an incredibly useful tool for my career in PR. Quite naturally, I’ve done a fair bit of unfollowing from tweeters whose posts don’t match up to my reasons for being on the site.
. . . But I’m not tweeting about it every 5 seconds. And I’m certainly not making threats to unfollow others (which I’ve sadly seen as well.)
So we’ve talked about rudeness and selfishness. Now, onto professionalism.
Yes, employers check Twitter accounts. And so do clients.
If all you do on Twitter is complain about other folks, you’re instantly taking yourself out of the running for a good number of job and career opportunities, and all for the instant gratification of a 140-character status update. Both employers and your potential (current, too) clients will do their homework on you.
As much as people try to forget it, employers do conduct ‘social network background checks.’ Many will look up your Facebook profile, Google your name, and even look at your Twitter timeline (yes, I’m aware that you can change privacy settings and such, but trust me, there are ways around that). Sadly, having your profile set to “private” means very little in the year 2010.
Remember, you’re a professional. You need to think through the consequences of your actions, on the job, and off. How might a potential client feel to see your Twitter profile, for the very first time, to a timeline of complaints about other users and negativity in general?
Fellow PR pros: Your social media accounts need to be able to stand up to magnifying glasses of the highest scrutiny.
So if you’re going to unfollow someone, be a little bit more like Nike…
Because the whole “tweeting about it” thing is just a tad passé. Keep a positive vibe on your Twitter page.
How do you feel about “unfollowing” on Twitter? Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts and join the discussion.
I'm Robert - a Technology Underwriter at The Hartford Insurance Group, one of the nation's top 10 carriers. Having worked in the communications and risk management industries, I've become passionate about the fields of PR, tech and new media. Thanks for visiting my website!