It was announced recently that Preston Bus Station is facing demolition. Devastating news for its long term-campaigners and a catalyst for digital reaction from people who previously hadn’t shown support for or against the place. As many others did, I tweeted my reaction:
Preston Bus Station. Goodbye memories of buskers in the subways and the stench of warm piss wafting through
— Tom Stables (@tomstables) December 17, 2012
To my surprise, it seemed to be a popular tweet – used by BlogPreston as they logged reactions on Storify and retweeted by quite a few, including Preston’s Concil leader, Peter Rankin, who is ultimately responsible for the demolition decision. My initial thoughts were typical of any Twitter user: how nice to be retweeted!
However, being retweeted by @ppc_leader had added a new pro-demolition context to my otherwise seemingly inane tweet. I had no idea the offending stench had been used by many in support of its demolition. That was, until I received a reply:
@tomstables @pcc_leader Pathetic excuse for demolition. A refurbishment would have resolved.
— Jonathan Richardson (@jonny_preston) December 17, 2012
Now, I was quick to reply and let Jonny know that I was merely reflecting, but it did get me thinking about contextual retweeting.
In a similar way to friend’s posting on our Facebook timeline, managing retweets on Twitter is an aspect of online reputation management to bear in mind and monitor. When people retweet us, it’s because they’ve found the tweet useful, funny, informative or important or because they want to lend support and amplify a message, request or statement. The people who retweet us can, by association, shape how people perceive us, just as the pages we Like on Facebook can help construct how we’re perceived online.
There is little you can do to manage who retweets you. Having a Protected Account prevents people retweeting (using the native Twitter retweet function), but what you can do is monitor the retweets using the Connect tab (making sure you’re selecting Interactions).
What you are able to do, is control the content you put out. Which brings me nicely back to the follow-up tweets by @ppc_leader regarding the Preston Bus Station demolition plans:
Apart from the nerdy sociopaths on the LEP website few Prestonians objecting to bus stationdemo. I've had 5 emails and 2 phone calls.
— Peter Rankin (@pcc_leader) December 19, 2012
Understandably, this particular tweet elicited angry responses:
@pcc_leader Amazing tweet! You're working very hard on getting Preston into the next Crap Towns aren't you!
— Sam Jordison (@samjordison) December 19, 2012
@pcc_leader great to see how you 'connect with the people', just because we don't contact you means we don't have an opinion? #PRBusStation
— Jeremy Coates (@phpcodemonkey) December 19, 2012
Be Careful What You Tweet For
So the moral of the story? It’s a reminder that social networks push conversations into the public domain and that, even in the age of social, managing the context of our content is still largely misunderstood and misconstrued, so before clicking that Tweet button, be absolute sure you’re saying the right thing in the right place.
Have you ever had a tweet taken out of context? Or been retweeted when you’d rather wish you hadn’t? We’d love to hear it about it in the comments below.Read next Do Social Networks Consider Your Best Interests?