By Lindsay Newman

There is no denying that Twitter has taken the social networking world by storm. Facebook and YouTube have become overly time consuming in the shadow of a tweet. Why read through an entire bio when you can consume a whole personality in just one sentence?

Twitter allows every individual- whether enterprise, celebrity, or every day ‘regular Joe’ to run their own identity campaign- if, of course, you can express yourself in 140 characters or less.

But with this accessible power comes a personal liability to responsibility, to avoid pitfalls such as self-destruction, public embarrassment, or even a ruined reputation. Sounds a little dramatic? – Let me explain why ‘responsible tweeting’ has become a crucial skill to master.

When comedian Gilbert Gottfried recently tweeted an insensitive joke regarding the tsunami in Japan, he lost his job as the Aflac company duck.

An enterprise who wants to push their message to their customers and develop a voice in their space uses Twitter to gain an identifiable opinion which leads to equity in their respected field. Yet, one misleading tweet about a new announcement could turn off customers and put a wedge in the entire company positioning. Talk about throwing their PR team in a panic!

And in 2009 when a newly hired Cisco employee tweeted about dreading work, the company immediately responded and alerted the hiring manager. I would imagine that meeting did not start with smiles. 

Why are these short thoughts so powerful? The answer is exactly what makes Twitter so valuable. A tweet is an unfiltered personal expression, the closest a customer, or audience, will get to the subject.

Therefore, the importance of responsible tweeting means always keeping this fact in mind.  Tweets should be crafted carefully and appropriately. Do this, and Twitter can deliver positive benefits unmatched by other avenues. Never tweet anything you wouldn’t post on a billboard in front of your house.  And remember, once the tweet is sent, it becomes a part of that identity- good or bad.