Minutes after my emergency c-section, my best friend up north called the hospital to see if I was alive. She had gotten a call from a friend, who had spoken to my mother’s co-worker, who was talking with my mother when my husband called her about the emergency. The final message resulted in my rumored death. And I’m not even a celebrity!
Now, just imagine the truth-mangling on Twitter. Frightening, isn't it?
You don't have to be scared, though. Just make sure you do the following before tweeting a hot topic:
- Go to the source.
Don’t make wine from a poor grapevine. Find the root of the rumor first. Maybe the blog post said the product was harmful only if it came from one manufacturing plant. Or a press release had a vital word that a tweet missed. Get the actual info first. You don't want to hear what someone said that someone else said.
- Reach the subject.
Heard news about a person or company? Don’t forget to check their blog, website, Twitter account, etc. Poor Bill Cosby often has to tweet that he's alive, so people don’t believe a recurring rumor of his demise. My favorite rebuttal comes from Jeff Goldblum on The Colbert Show.
- Vary your research.
Once upon a time (pre-2006), people didn’t rely solely on Twitter for news leads. Folks used different sources: television, newspapers, phones, the local watering hole, magazines, and going to the hot spot. Remember that Twitter is a tool—not the entire toolbox.
It’s better to pause, get the details then tweet. You don’t want to tweet wrong information then end up having to send a slew of apologies. Not only do you ruin your reputation, you also make your organization look bad. And in some cases, you can be suspended from work or even fired. You don't want to add to the online din. You want to make every tweet sing.
So, how do you handle trending topics on Twitter?