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Originally written by Nicola Ryall on Small Business

There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world.

And if you’ve ever been on Twitter, never will this have been more apparent. With just a click of your mouse or a touch of your phone, you can read worldwide updates, industry news and local scandals.

But which information should you be sharing on your profile? And how do you discuss major world issues or matters that affect your business, without causing controversy?

>See also: Twitter marketing in less than 15 minutes a day

Last week, the Twitter account of the son of President Trump, Donald Trump Jr, was suspended for 12 hours. This was because he breached misinformation rules after he shared a video in which politically affiliated doctors said shutdowns and masks were unnecessary and promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus. The antimalarial drug has been labelled as risky by the US Food and Drug Administration.

President Trump himself also retweeted the video, which was removed from his feed and replaced with a label from Twitter saying it was “no longer available”.

Incidents like these result in bad publicity for the person or company involved. That’s why your business needs to know what it can, and can’t, do when posting or sharing on Twitter.

>See also: Conquering the small business hashtag: Twitter tips for SMEs

The right kind of controversy though can be good.

You may have heard that controversy is a bad thing but this isn’t always true. Controversial posts receive more traction online because people are keen to discuss them.

Just make sure that your business isn’t the one causing the controversy.

Only share controversial posts when:

  • You have read the entire article you’re sharing yourself
  • It directly relates to your industry, or business conditions generally
  • There is a thought-provoking debate to be had
  • You are remaining neutral on the topic

A great way to stay neutral on controversial topics is to share a post with the question: “What do you guys think of this?”, or “Does anybody know if this is true?”

By asking your followers a question, you achieve what Donald Trump Jr and President Trump could not: remaining impartial on the matter at hand. That way, your profile will receive more traction online – without worsening your public image.

How not to tweet like President Trump

#1 – Encourage interaction through follower polls

You want your Twitter page to be seen by lots of people – and a great way to do this is by encouraging follower interaction through polls.

Attaching a poll to your Twitter post that asks a question about industry or business-related news, helps generate more conversations around the topic than just asking the question itself. Followers will reflect on what others think, respond to the poll, and engage in the debate.

Just make sure that you are not:

  • Inciting violence, abuse or otherwise hateful conduct
  • Referencing or showing graphic content
  • Promoting illegal acts or services
  • Encouraging followers to do dangerous things

Asking for your followers’ opinions via polls means that they are more likely to share your post. This will once again get your page increased traction online, without you having to take an offensive stance.

If instead Donald Trump Jr had created a poll asking followers whether they trusted the usefulness of hydroxychloroquine or not for curing coronavirus, rather than a straightforward post encouraging people to take the drug, then his post would have been kept up.

Also, he would not have been giving a personal opinion and seen to be spreading incorrect information.

#2 – Doublecheck your sources

Statistics are constantly changing. Sometimes, an article from just two or three days ago will report things that are no longer true. Then there’s the threat of fake news constantly circulating.

That’s why, when sharing news online, you need to make sure that your knowledge comes from reliable sources. Don’t trust the word of an unknown person or business, because they might be lying or mistaken.

Instead, quote independent sources of information in your posts such as:

  • Office for National Statistics
  • BBC
  • Reuters
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Full Fact

If you’re quoting information from these sources, you won’t be suspended from Twitter. Unfortunately for Donald Trump Jr, he didn’t use any of these sources and paid the price.

Only yesterday Twitter froze the account of the President Trump campaign for violating its misinformation rules after it posted a video in which the president said children were “almost immune” to coronavirus.

It’s worth mentioning in your Twitter post where your data has come from. You could do this by:

  • Tagging the organisation’s Twitter page
  • Providing a link in your post to the source of information
  • Quoting the article that you found the data from

If you want to link the source of information in your post but are unable to do so because it takes you over the 280-character limit on Twitter, don’t worry. You can press “reply” on your initial post (known as creating a “thread”) and inform readers on where the information came from.

#3 – Share internal information

It’s often hard to tell whether data is true or false. You never know where statistics have come from, or how they might have changed since first being published.

But the one form of data that can’t be disputed, is the data you have on yourself!

By sharing internal updates, including data, from inside your company, you:

  • Keep your content relevant to your page
  • Show off the great things going on in your business
  • Provide data that can’t be disputed
  • Offer content that followers can’t get anywhere else

You could provide these updates in many ways, including in the form of:

  • News – staff, industry or locational
  • Updates – new products & services being offered
  • Data – success stories

These will add value to your followers’ lives and ensure that they keep checking your profile for more fascinating updates.

#4 – If in doubt… read Twitter’s guidelines

Twitter doesn’t make things up as it goes along.

If you’re at all unsure about setting up a business page on Twitter, you should read Twitter’s guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed.

For your digital marketing efforts to be successful, you need to be on Twitter. Joining needn’t be a stressful decision – it can help add value to your business by increasing your presence online.

As a rule, remember that you can share posts from almost anyone on Twitter. Keep it focused on the topic being discussed, not the person discussing it.

Just remember to steer clear of personal opinions and instead invite followers to give their views. This is what Donald Trump Jr didn’t do and that’s why his Twitter account was suspended.

To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, remain neutral in controversial topics. That way, you’ll preserve your brand image whilst still boosting the traction you get online.

Nicola Ryall is director and co-founder of Brolly Marketing

Further reading

A quarter of entrepreneurs don’t use social media for their small business

 

How NOT to tweet like President Trump if you want to keep your account



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