Twitter, in a sense, gives you the ability to create your own social network. Who you follow, who you converse with, these are what create your Twitter experience and build your own social network. And like any other network, those you associate with and the conversations you have can impact your business, good and bad.
I just read an interesting blogpost about being selective in who you follow. I’ve been thinking about this very subject a lot lately as I’m watching how others are using Twitter for both personal and business use. As I use this tool more and read more about it, my mind wanders to the potential dangers of using Twitter and having so much of what I say on permanent record and in such a public fashion. Even the people I follow and those following me are open for public scrutiny. I welcome the openness and true transparency this type of platform brings, but I wonder: Should I be following absolutely everyone who follows me? Could my network have any sort of legal implications down the road? It all stems on relationship building, but can that relationship work against you? With the ability to connect with so many more people, how important is it really to think before you speak and take care of your network?
The fact that the US Army has identified Twitter as a terrorist tool shows how powerful this tool can really be. What if one of the people you were following and who is following you is identified as being involved in a crime and the investigation moves to their Twitter networks. Because you are following them, does that leave you open to investigation as well? Will the ease and speed at which we connect with others via social platforms like Twitter also increase the odds of linking individuals that could not otherwise have been easily made?
By nature, my overly active imagination turns to these types of scenarios. I’m not suggesting we become overly paranoid about the uses of social media and who is watching as I would hate to see it being used in this way and be dismayed to see this kind of thought hinder anyone’s entrance into social networking. But I do think it deserves some real thought before anyone starts putting themselves out there. Especially for any newbies. Can your online relationships be conveyed as real relationships? Or are they just internet acquaintances?
While I’m building my Twitter network, I am making a point of following those who follow me – IF we have some common ground. I peruse each person’s profile and check out their blogs/websites before clicking on that follow button. As far as legal implications go, any research I’ve turned up deals more with what I say and who I claim to represent than with the people I am interacting with. I googled ‘legal implications of twitter’ and came across an ebook from a UK law firm. The last chapter deals with the legalities of social media. You can find the ebook on their blog. Beyond that I have no insight to offer. Any ideas?
Lastly, I think caring for and nurturing my network by being as open as possible, contributing as much value as I can and learning as much as I can before sharing is of tremendous importance to ensure my facts are correct, to be confident in the references I give and to keep myself from walking into trouble unknowingly. With the ability to converse so easily and so quickly, I think it’s becoming increasingly important to think before you speak and keep an eye on your online networks.
Update: I just found a great blog post over on Alexander van Elsa’s blog pertinent to this topic called “5 dangers of social media“