In the days when social media meant standing in silence alongside other people while reading the magazines in WH Smith, I was given some advice.
I’m paraphrasing a little, but it was something along the lines of ‘don’t say on Twitter what you wouldn’t be prepared to shout out on your local high street.’ It’s about the only thing I can remember from a day of social media training.
Yes, I really did go on a social media course. I don’t get out much, but when I do…
I’m not the world’s most prolific Twitter user. Is ‘Twitterer’ the correct term? I take a ‘quality not quantity’ approach, which, when roughly translated, means I rarely have anything interesting to say.
But the point about shouting at people as you take a stroll along your local high street is as valid today as it was when I watched a dreary PowerPoint presentation about the importance of Twitter, Friends Reunited and MySpace.
SHOULD’VE GONE TO PRIMARK
Turn to Twitter right now and I can guarantee that somebody will be moaning about something you don’t care about. ‘Hey @BritishGas, I stayed at home waiting for an engineer and nobody turned up. You said you’d be here between 8 and 7. There’s only so much Netflix I can take in one day. WTF?’
Or something like ’Not good enough @nextofficial. I ordered a pair of denim jeggings at 7 o’clock last night. It’s 3pm now, so tell me what the hell am I going to wear to Steve’s coming out party tonight?’
Such tweets are invariably loaded with passive-aggressive hashtags, like #nothappy #enoughalready #worstcustomerservice and #willgetmyjeggingsfromprimarknexttime. Others contain profanity, but my Mum reads this blog, so I won’t list them here.
Now imagine standing next to the fountain on the corner of the town square and, using your loudest voice, telling everyone that you’ve waited all day for a British Gas engineer to arrive.
How about standing up from your seat on the 6A to tell everyone on the bus that your denim jeggings haven’t arrived? It’s not a good look – and I’m not just talking about you in a pair of denim jeggings. Maybe something with a little more give around the thighs would be more appropriate.
HAVE A QUIET WORD
Twitter has a lot to answer for, but the whole shouting at big brands in the full glare of your followers is both bizarre and unnecessary. Calling out companies for making a Horlicks of something is fair game. Letting people know a brand has failed to meet or has exceeded your expectations is fine and dandy.
But ask yourself this: do your followers really care about the shortage of sugar sachets in the Costa at Wealdstone? Do they want to know that you’ve ordered a new lens for your camera and it’s a day late? Or that H&M delivered a pair of size 6 boots when you ordered size 5?
It’s unlikely, so maybe drop the company a DM or have a word with them over the phone or the next time you’re in town. Standing outside the shop and shouting at the sales assistant ought to do the trick.