Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. That much is clear. The rest, not so much. Among many other questions, these arise: Are protests peaceful or not? Will Wilson remain on the force or not? Twitter alone isn't able to answer those questions, despite the fact that that's where many Americans go to get their news.
Hence, the brainstorm about how marketers need to remember context, forget nuance and really think through content before tweeting, are tips that come courtesy of Joe Patrice, assistant editor of Above the Law.
"It just takes high-profile Twitter events pushing the medium to its limits to expose [the follies of the Twittersphere] in sharp relief," he writes on Aug. 14.
In among the tweets about how gun sales are rising in the areas around Ferguson and the movie "Let's Be Cops" is making millions, marketers may be trying to communicate with consumers about their products and services. Some of them might even be the lawyers in Patrice's audience. So how can marketers get their messages across?
Patrice offers marketers these Twitter tips:
1. Remember Context. Encapsulate the whole message in 140 characters or be prepared for the consequences.
In the case of #Ferguson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Staff Photographer David Carson captured a few protesters trying to light Molotov cocktails. Retweets of that photo from Carson, @PDPJ, generally failed to take into account tweets like this one from Aug 14: "#Ferguson both sides made provocative moves today. Some truly want peaceful protests, others in crowd came prepared for conflict today."
Patrice says the conservative voices in his Twitter stream latched onto the Molotov cocktail photo and retweeted it out of context. "The audience seeing that tweet secondhand found a report to match their worldview and latched on for dear life," he writes. "It's doubtful that majority of that audience went back to put Carson's work in context."