A colleague burst into my office, concerned over an update she had seen on LinkedIn that led her to believe one of our top people had left the agency for another job. Later that same day, our LA manager sent me a note – he was alarmed over heightened activity on our Twitter account. Someone was tweeting under the agency name at a much more rapid clip then we were accustomed to, with 20 updates in the last half hour – had someone hijacked our account, he wondered?
These are both examples of the unintended consequences of social media. In the first instance, an innocent change to the user's profile triggered a LinkedIn network update and email that alarmed my colleague. In the second case, auto-posting caused our Twitter account to go haywire when we refreshed some old posts on the agency blog.
I am sure others can cite similar examples, which illustrate some of the pitfalls of social media. For all of the great intelligence that can be gleaned, and tools for communications, there can also be unforeseen network effects. It just goes to show you that you need to be wary about information gained from social media monitoring, and also very careful with technologies such as auto-posting, so as not to create these messes or draw the wrong conclusions..
These situations and others have compelled me to invent an acronym that is the corrollary of SNAFU, or situation normal all fouled up – call it "SMAFU: Social Media all Fouled Up"