Provide Every Tweet the Proper Context

The Washington Redskins' official Twitter account placed some unneeded and unintentional pressure on this year’s team while sharing comments from head coach Mike Shanahan at a banquet for fans and media. When a season begins, every team in the NFL has Super Bowl aspirations. After all, all 32 teams begin with a the blank slate only a new season can offer, but there aren’t many teams that willingly take on the pressure of expectations by saying “Super Bowl or bust” to begin a season. The tweet immediately took on a life of its own, spreading all over the internet. When a head coach makes a Super Bowl statement, it makes the news, yet Shanahan’s comments were nothing remotely similar to a Super Bowl prediction (and those rarely end well, right Ryan Kalil?). This tweet was actually just a reference by the head coach to the Super Bowl-winning tradition that many of the teams that came before this year’s club have established. The full context of the quote can be found here and in the context of historical perspective, the quote makes perfect sense. The moral of this story is two-fold. First, the obvious one is say what you mean. Be clear with your tweets. Read it over a time or two before you hit that send button, because once you do that, simply erasing doesn’t always make it go away (also something that doesn’t end well, right Dr. Phil?). Consider all the twisted meanings someone can derive from your tweet and rewrite it to avoid being misconstrued. Second, you have to consider your position of influence and your social reach when you’re tweeting from a professional account. If you represent your city, business or association with your social media activity, you have to take that into consideration and be responsible with what you tweet and share. The Redskins have more than 234,000 followers, many of whom are members of the national media, another group with a large reach. The Redskins’ poorly-worded tweet went viral quickly, which is no surprise since the Redskins are coming off a playoff appearance last year and are led by one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL in Robert Griffin III. It’s the same responsibility you assume when you walk into a meeting on behalf of your company. You represent something bigger than yourself, and it’s no different on Twitter. Consider the possible reactions what you say on social media will generate. Be considerate, be thoughtful and, most of all, be clear.   (AP Photo/Scott A. Miller)