be careful what you say on twitterSprout Social: Insights is pleased to welcome back guest poster and social media consultant Sean Smith.

In the world of Twitter, you have 140 characters to get your point across, make a statement or grab attention.

Whether it’s something witty or an engaging news headline, the key is to catch the ever wandering eye of Twitter users.

If you’re not careful, however, sometimes what you write may not represent what you really mean to say.

Be careful what you say on Twitter or more precisely, be careful how you say it…

Please go away!

The Simon Fraser Business School, of all places, may have done it on purpose, or they may have done it innocently, not thinking of what it looked like to the average Tweet surfer…

SFU Tweet

Regardless, what the tweet posted on Dec 14th, above, said to me was “we want you to unlike us and we want you to do it NOW!”

Please come back…

Of course, that wasn’t the actual goal of the tweet. In fact, an issue with their Facebook environment is what led to the odd posting.

To their credit, Simon Fraser Business School did make an effort to keep their followers up to speed on what was happening and when they could return to the Facebook Page. But with the wording they chose, how many people could be expected to follow through and “re-like” them down the road?

In an environment where people work so hard to get you to like them, the SFU Business School may have made a critical mistake in asking their followers to ‘go away’ (but please come back!).

“Air Force Investigates Aliens”

Come on. Admit it. Your immediate thought upon reading that headline is that the Air Force is running around looking for ET, right?

In fact, the Air Force was working with the immigration folks, flying Predator reconnaissance aircraft along the borders, looking for illegal aliens (the terrestrial kind) entering the country.

The average reader will allow their minds to wander down the obscure path before choosing the logical one. Remember that how you write on Twitter – not just what you write – will influence which path the reader ultimately takes!

What do you say?

Had a Twitter ‘faux pas’ because of the unfortunate words you chose? Have any examples you’ve run across that you’d like to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below and you could be featured on Fan Friday.