A Tweet today by the Washington Post shows how careful content producers need to be when using social media tools.
The Post, teasing a UGC story about who might be the Washington Redskins starting quarterback this season said this in their Tweet, which was posted early Thursday morning: "Your 2011 Washington Redskins starting quarterback is …."
See, this is personal for me. I was born in Annapolis, Md., lived in Maryland for 10 years and a good chunk of my family is there. And as a kid growing up there, you don't really have much choice, but to be a Redskins fan.
So, when I saw this Tweet on my way to the office this morning, it was like breaking news to me. The Redskins have been waffling on who will start at quarterback and their coach has said he likely won't make a choice until the last minute, so I was surprised to see the Tweet.
But when I clicked on the link I was more than disappointed. The Post has a UGC blog where residents share their viewpoints on big sports topics and Thursday morning's Tweet directed readers to a reader's comments on who they thought would be the starting quarterback. While it was a fine read, it wasn't what I was expecting to get.
The Post not only let me down with this treatment, but also has created doubt in my mind about what content I might actually get when I click on future Tweets.
While creative and inviting social media headlines and web teasers are great ways to get readers to experience our content, we have to have some basic, logical standards. We have to follow those general journalism rules that we have used for years in print.
One of the challenges we face with Tweets and web headlines is that for the most part, the only information that they include in a feed or on a homepage, is the headline. In print, the Post's Tweet would have been OK, because they likely could have had a subhead that could have explained that a reader is sharing his comments on the starting quarterback situation. That's not the case online and mobile and we have to consider that fact before we post something.
Honestly, the headline didn't have to completely mislead me. If it would have said something like "Redskins fanatic on why Beck will be the man," I would have clicked on it.