For a new project, an acquaintance (I'll call her Denise) hired someone to handle her social media (I'll call her Sara). Good for Denise. It's great to get on Twitter when you have something to bring to the world. But if you do it in a way that makes people wonder if you're for real, not so much.
I was disturbed by what went wrong and how it could damage my acquaintance's brand. I drafted the below overkill of a response to Denise making a colleague quip, "She must be a very good friend since you just gave an entire free Twitter lesson to someone who pays thousands for someone else to mis-tweet for her."
But she isn't a good friend and now she's unlikely to ever become one. My Twitter soul is offended.
The social media hired hand broke a bunch of Twitter conventions in engaging me in the name of the brand she's being paid to take care of.
Here's what happened. I tweeted congratulations to Denise on the launch of her project.
Sara thanked me for a retweet concerning Denise's project.
I didn't know who she was or why she'd be claiming I had retweeted her. I hadn't retweeted anyone on the topic of Denise's project.
Then I saw a duplicate tweet thanking me for my non-existent RT coming from Denise's branded account.
Both tweets used a hashtag. That means Sara put the tweets to me into a larger stream of topic-interested viewers so it was meant for a larger audience, to link me to the project. But why, I wondered, if not to tell those folks that I was RTing her account. That's like a recommendation of the original tweet, if not an endorsement. And it's poor Twitter etiquette if it's not true.
Was this a new ploy of spambots to grab other people's tweets and send them around under their own account, and to pretend to engage with people on false pretenses?
In four years on Twitter this was the first time I'd been thanked for RTing when I hadn't done so. Spambots do evolve!
I responded to Sara and asked for clarification. Her @-replies to me were broken by a "." That usually means that she'd want her followers to see the conversation even though in this case they were not part of it.
I noticed her tweets to me did not tell her followers anything they could use on their own. They also wouldn't be able to track the on-going conversation because her replies to me were not linked to my tweets. I figured this was probably just a bad practice on Sara's part but it breaks a usability feature of the Twitter service, and looks fishy besides.
Sara's tweets to me didn't make it clear who she was in connection with Denise's project -- and her Twitter bio and Denise's project's Twitter bio didn't mention Sara's involvement.
I think it's a good idea to mention somewhere that a hired hand is running your social media. If not in advance, then immediately and clearly when someone might ask. Sometimes when several people tweet from one account they initial their tweets. President Obama does this so you know it's him.
I scanned Sara's feed to see if it could make sense of it, and there was no mention of Denise or her project. Nor mention that Sara's doing social media for Denise...
To go back to that first tweet, if Sara had thanked me for the shout out via Denise's company account, and made clear that even though I addressed Denise she was a third party tweeting for Denise (and given her name at that point) it would have been clear and totally fine.
And then she could have retweeted my shout out, achieving in one keystroke exactly what she had hoped to do. Show her followers that I was aware of Denise's project, and excited about it. If she wanted to show people interested in that topic but not her followers, she could have appended a hashtag to my original tweet.
Ultimately, paying someone to run your social media is like paying someone to manage relationships for you.
If you know very little about social media, however, I wonder how you intend to parse who might be able to do a good job for you.