He is controversial, polarizing and prides himself on being politically incorrect, yet he has risen to a level of political accomplishment that few actual politicians have achieved. Of course, I am talking about the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, his social media strategy is just as polarizing as his personality.
While Donald Trump has been able to remain powerful and popular among his supporters, as a public relations consultant I beg him to seek out a social media strategist. He has personally tweeted things that quite frankly any business or brand, large or small, could not and should not.
Here are five social media lessons companies can learn from Donald Trump’s Twitter account.
- Triple check spelling and grammar: It is the easiest way to chisel away at your credibility. That’s why Donald Trump may need to invest some of his billions into spell check software. In several of his many insults thrown at his rival Marco Rubio in February 2016, Trump misspelled the word “choker” calling his opponent a “lightweight chocker”. Also while campaigning for the presidency, he has misspelled words such as honor and dumber. An occasional spelling or grammatical error might be overlooked in the Twitterspere, but repeated misuse of the English language comes off unprofessional and unprepared, and no one wants to do business with a company that isn’t prepared. Always double, if not triple check, your spelling and grammar before hitting the send button. While this especially applies to Twitter because there is currently no feature that allows you to edit a tweet after it is posted, you should apply this same principle to emails and posts on other social media channels, as well.
- Be inclusive: On Cinco de Mayo 2016, Trump tweeted a picture eating, or pretending to eat, a taco bowl with the following caption. “Happy Cinco de Mayo. The best taco bowls are made at Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics.” I could write an entire article about why this tweet is horrible from a PR perspective, but I’ll give you the cliff notes version instead. For one, it was later revealed that taco bowls weren’t even on the menu at Trump Tower, but secondly, his attempt to connect with Latino voters backfired. The tweet was considered quite offensive to a lot of people who took to their own social media accounts to blast him. When race, ethnicity, heritage, or gender is involved, companies and brands should always strive for the highest level of sensitivity in all of their interactions with the public online or otherwise.
- Retweet and follow with caution: In the cyber world, a retweet is essentially an endorsement of sorts. In fact, many media outlets require their on-air talent to specify in their Twitter bio that “retweets are not endorsements” to prevent themselves from damage by association. In March, Trump retweeted an unflattering image of the wife of his then-competitor Ted Cruz comparing her to his wife, former supermodel Melania Trump. The meme said “the images are worth a thousand words.” The presumptive Republican nominee once again received a lot of backlash. Even if your company did not compose the tweet, a negative or slanderous retweet makes you guilty by association. The same rule applies to the accounts you choose to follow. Scroll through the previous tweets of every user before you follow them online. You don’t want potential customers or clients getting a bad impression of you simply because you followed the wrong account on Twitter.
- Avoid profanity: This should be a no-brainer, but once again we can learn a lesson in what not to do from the presumptive Republican nominee. According to a Washington Post article, Trump has tweeted or retweeted profanity more than 100 times since creating his account. Granted, he has toned down his language a bit as his campaign has progressed, but what you put online lives forever. Even a deleted post will ultimately be seen by some and can easily be screen grabbed and shared after you have removed it from your account. So, if you are considering using a curse word in a social media post, just don’t.
- Do not personally attack your competitors: In a political campaign there is bound to be some mud slinging, but Donald Trump has taken it to a while new level using social media. He has resorted to name-calling, attacks on physical appearance and other tactics that have been somewhat unprecedented in previous presidential campaigns. In general, it’s a good idea to stray away from any personal attack on your company’s competitors. Don’t turn your Twitter account into a boxing ring. Let your reputation and your brand speak for itself. Bashing or talking down about your competition is only going to hurt your image in the long run.
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