In my social-media workshops around the country, the statement I make that gets the most incredulous response is always the same one: I take three to six minutes crafting each tweet I send.
Yes, that's right. I sometimes take even more than that much time to get every aspect of my tweets as right as possible. No typos? Check. Accurate link? Check. Accurate handle of writer I had to hunt down? Check. Accurate "via" to give credit? Check. All of that takes time and patience.
The reason for this much care is that my tweets reflect on me, my work, and the institutions I represent. Besides, tweets are likely the only thing I write that will end up in the Library of Congress.
So with all that care and time, how in the world did I send out the ridiculous tweet pictured above?
The answer is a culprit that trips up thousands of folks every day: Mobile notifications. These alerts that come via text message to your cell phone are a great way to keep track of Twitter activity when you can't get easily to Twitter.com or Twitter management tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck.
Because the tweets appear in your stream of text messages, it is easy to hit Reply thinking you are texting back a response. You are, but not to the person who tweeted at you. You're texting back to Twitter, which can then send out the message as a public tweet (if you've set up Twitter to allow you to tweet via SMS -- a good idea in emergencies).
Please be careful if you get your tweets via text message -- or you could end up having someone respond like in this tweet:
Just be sure to double-check every time you reply via text -- is the message going to Twitter or going to an individual person?
As with all digital services, get to know your Twitter.com settings (look for "Settings" or "Edit my profile") and manage the various options there: