Swearing and Social Media

I’ve wanted to tackle the subject of social media and profanity for a bit now, especially when I read this post about the persuasive power of swearing. When you are communicating in an open platform such as Twitter and you are a representative of your company, when is it okay to swear…or is it ever?

As the post and a book that I will be reviewing next week (hint) both demonstrate is that there are indeed positives to using expletives from time to time.  For example, light swearing can show your passion for a particular subject and draws in your audience to pay attention. You might also find yourself in an argument and have to use stronger wording to express your point of view.

In person, I’m unfazed by people that swear up a storm.  However, when I see someone send out a tweet using a naughty word, my eyebrow raises a little. Not because I’m offended but I wonder if that person just turned off his/her audience. It seems that the more we tweet and update our Facebook statuses and develop deeper personal connections, the result is that we have the tendency to act more casual.

What sometimes gets lost is the fact we forget we are also representing our companies, brands, and businesses on these platforms. So although swearing might not anger your friends, it could annoy your broader audience.

Awhile back there was brouhaha over a webinar invite that went out entitled “WTF Tumblr.” Many PR pros were up in arms over the use of “WTF” and barked that it was completely unprofessional. Yet, others thought the name was eye-catching and a smart title. Even though “WTF” are only initials for a profane expression, it still turned quite a few people off.

So before you drop the F-bomb, here are a couple of things to ask yourself:

  • Who is my audience?

  • Is there another word that can demonstrate my point of view without risking backlash?

  • Does the situation warrant the use of profanity?

  • Is it worth the risk?

Readers, what do you think about the topic of social media and profanity?  Chime in below.