I keep thinking the watchword should be “what part of the word publishing don’t you understand?” With complaints about invasion of privacy, pranks, and PR headaches, businesses using social media need to understand that what we do there (blogs, Twitter, Facebook) is publishing. Once you let it out into the world (or once somebody else does) it’s gone. You can’t take it back.

I picked up a good reminder and a list of tips today from PR pro Aaron Kwittken in Avoid Social Media Weapons of Mass Destruction in his PR Post, which is also on Entrepreneur.com.

He includes this excellent list of specific practical tips:

  1. Be careful what you say and what you post.
  2. Be vigilant about who’s recording you and what’s being said about you and your company online.
  3. Be prepared with an emergency action plan so you can react quickly to legitimate threats.
  4. Minimize any fallout by quickly going on the offensive. Respond genuinely on the same social media channel.
  5. Build a bank of goodwill among people who influence your brand; the fans, bloggers, online media, customers and commentators. The best defense is a solid offense, right?
  6. Never masquerade online (pose as someone else) or pay a third party to blog on your behalf.
  7. Train yourself and your employees on the above steps.

All of which, in my mind, is basically reiterating the basic fact that what you do in social media is publishing. It’s not private unless you set it to be private. You have to live with it. It’s authenticity whether you like it or not.

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.