#Thinkbeforeyoutweet…a lot of trouble can come from 140 characters.
Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the world of social media. We text, tag, post and tweet to boost our credibility and popularity. But sometimes we forget who actually reads what we have to say in the spur of the moment.
This week we learned a valuable lesson from the newly elected Miss Seattle 2012 Jean-Sun Hannah Ahn, when a tweet from December 2011 came back to haunt her.
As reported by King 5 News [Edit 6/28/2016: link removed from King 5’s site], Ahn graduated from Arizona State University and returned home to compete for the title of Miss Seattle after serving as Miss Phoenix. But, King 5 reported, before she was awarded the crown, Ahn said something about Seattle on Twitter: “In a tweet last December, Ahn said she was ‘hating Seattle right now,’ and called the people who live here, ‘annoying.'”
While the ensuing attention was troublesome, Miss Seattle has the support of the former Miss Seattle from 2011, Lauren Kuhn. I reached out to Lauren, who said the important thing to remember is that the organization you represent in the public sphere sometimes has to take precedence over your own ideas. In the case of the Miss Seattle Organization, she said, the nonprofit relies on volunteers, donors and community goodwill. Keeping its name above reproach, Kuhn said, is critical.
This makes social media etiquette for anyone who wears the Miss Seattle crown all that much more important.
Kuhn, a student at Gonzaga University, told me she is “100 percent supportive of Miss Seattle 2012.”
With that said, Lauren tells The Fearey Group that a few rules she followed for social media helped a lot during her time as Miss Seattle:
1. Keep social profiles private, unless the information posted is to be public knowledge. “As Miss Seattle, my Twitter page was public and I used it to inform people of appearances/sponsorships. However, my Facebook page was private but I was friends with many sponsors and supporters.”
2. If asking a person a question or writing anything controversial, write a private message. Image is everything.
3. Use social media as a way to publicly thank sponsors and bring attention to upcoming events so that the public is informed. “I would tweet/post about service projects I was involved in and I’d thank the businesses that donated.”
4. Don’t write personalized tweets or posts as a public figure. “I wanted to be a representative that all people could feel connected to. For example, I did not tweet about attending Gonzaga University because I didn’t want to be seen as a ‘Gonzaga Bulldog’—I wanted to be seen as ‘Miss Seattle 2011.’”
So while I managed to use more than 140 characters to say it, the lesson today is both clear and concise: Think before you tweet.