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Social Media Needs Editors

June 14, 2011

Media mistakes happen. Even before the days of social media there were certain flubs in the world of public relations – misquotes, misrepresentations, vigilante spokespersons – but the internet age has absolutely had a major ampiflication impact. Enter Rep. Anthony Weiner’s wiener -(don’t worry, this is still a family friendly site) – and the spotlight it puts on social media interactions.

A Wall Street Journal article notes the landmine social media can be for politicians. Not necessarily known for their discretion, or their ability to keep their personal matters private (or in some cases, their private parts personal…sorry – I can’t help myself…), politicians have had more than their share of social media blunders, Weiner-gate aside. It prompts the thought that perhaps political offices and companies alike need to take a strong look at how their social media accounts are managed. Ken Goldstein, liability expert at Chubb Group of Insurance Companies notes that social media outreach should “emulate a newspaper operation.” Meaning there should be editorial oversight and accountability.

It’s a solid argument, and supports my long-held notion that the person responsible for your social media – including strategy, organization, implementation and execution – should make up some of your best, not necessarily your youngest or hippest. Communication is communication, and social media accounts are public correspondence. Even personally held social media accounts represent the “publication” of information. My understanding of this is a big part of the reason why I don’t post many pictures of my son online. When you post information to the web, even to “private” or “personal” accounts you are in a large sense sending out a press release of whatever information your posting. That’s regardless of what your privacy settings are.

Politicians who blend personal and professional – even in more innocuous ways than Representative Weiner – are setting themselves up for trouble. And the same goes for businesses, government agencies and individuals. The personal and professional are blending, to be sure. But you’d best be sure you’re okay with what was once personal being a part of your professional life. Or you’d best hire a good editor to help keep you on track…and in some individual’s cases, maybe they shouldn’t even know their own passwords.

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