Flying over border from New York City to Canada, it dawned on me how we cross boundaries without even realizing it. There wasn’t a line in the air telling me I’ve gone too far or welcoming me to Canada. The clouds did not look different either. With social media this line is not always visible but when you come down from the clouds your realize there are borders and boundaries. With so many companies on Twitter you often see them jumping into a new “country” without knowing how to speak the language. They can call you an ass without even knowing it And as “forgeigner, these companies can act like asses without even knowing it.   When this happens, the best thing that can happen is to apologize, admit the mistake and back pedal, but unfortunately what I’ve witnessed lately is defensive reactions, rude emails and insults because the company is so utterly clueless as to who it has insulted, how viral the negative message can be and the correct way to handle a crisis online.

Here are my tips for those brands, companies and freelance tweeters that have entered a foreign country and need to come down out of the clouds:

Transparency and Disclosure. If your brand or company is having someone do the tweeting for you, disclose at all times. Using a simple dash with your initials after your tweet and having this displayed on your Twitter homepage is an easy, easy solution. For an example, visit one of our client’s Twitter home page to see just how easy this transparency is!

Don’t answer when you don’t know the answer. Freelance tweeters, if you don’t know just ask. If you are not sure of an answer to a question that is asked of you on Twitter, get back to the person after you’ve found the answer. DM the person letting them know you’re doing some research. Giving the wrong answer is hard to take back. You can delete tweets but many people take screenshots!

Don’t Get Defensive. Companies and brands jump in to social media without really knowing who they are tweeting and the etiquette of social media. Try to understand the etiquette of social media before engaging in conversations. Watch and listen before crashing in on Twitter parties. Realize Twitter is only 140 characters and so the comments aren’t rude but they’re short and to the point because that is what Twitter is. And Twitter is a conversation. So if a fellow Tweeter questios your comment, claim or source, the person is engaging, not attacking. Just don’t get your panties in a bundle for nothing.

Research. When you’re tweeting at a well known person online and offline, or participating in a well known Twitter party, you should understand the dynamic. For example, someone like Jennifer Taggart an attorney, author and um, someone who has been on The Doctors, Fox News and performs XRF testing (12 million McDonald’s Shrek glass recall) might well have a more pointed question or concern. See who are you tweeting, what is her background and, well, check the condescion. If you go on to email the person and call him or her “not normal”, you’re insulting and frankly rude…check yourself.

Obviously, this post is written because of something that has happened recently but in reality I have seen this over and over. After flying into Canada it made me realize just how easy it is to be confused when everyone is speaking another language and you’re new to something. Social media is foreign to some people and even those doing freelance tweeting for companies, aren’t really that great speaking the language and have some learning to do.

Why not? Great tips for free!

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