"We are all in this humans race together and it's our job to make sure we all cross the finish line as one."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Twitterville Etiquette: Quote THIS!

 There have been 9,165 blogs, articles and posts about Twitter and Social Media etiquette that we have all read and hoped we have not made near fatal mistakes with and I know I have read at least 1,964 of them.

But, I did something last week that in Twitterville is a major Go Directly To Jail offense but luckily was able to quell as fast as it all occurred.

I collect great expressions and quotes. I cut and paste them, drop them in a word document and keep them cozy on my desktop waiting to be used. I save them for rainy days or on line chats that warrant their subject matter and I infuse them into the conversation. I’m always very careful to make sure I quote who say’s it because let’s face it, Twitterville is a small town.

So, I was going into a chat with the #custserv group last Tuesday and I needed a great quote to drop on the crew and I was short on my own words that day. So I went to my magic file, found an amazing quote that had no writers credit pasted along with it. I couldn’t remember for the life of me where I saw it and figured, “oh, just use it regardless”. Here for the record is the quote:

“The Best Companies have a Strong Culture but a Thin Rule Book. Stick to Your Standards & be Disciplined. What You Permit, You Promote.”

Sounds great right? The response was terrific and everybody and their brother Re-Tweeted it and they told two friends and so on and so on…And then I get a Direct Message from “The Author”.

Now, the author is no ordinary guy, this is a guy I have been connected with through for a couple of years, I respect and look up to even use his “Leadership in a Box” program in my company. We had even chatted online earlier. His name is, Jim Sullivan and no we are not related.

The Direct Message reads (and I paraphrase here): “FYI Ty, that quote you used was a direct quote from me on Twitter on Feb.5th. Just letting you know.”

I am MORTIFIED! Sweat cascades down my head and builds on my shirt collar!  All I’m thinking is ‘have mercy this poor guy’s words are stolen and now he thinks I’m a thief and my name is mud in the world I worked so hard to build”. So I of course am a man of action and can’t deal with guilt very well (and I can’t afford the therapy to fight this one off), so I jump right on it and apologize for the incident both publicly and personally. I explain it was in no means malicious or sneaky and offer him my 2nd born heir or an Applebee’s Gift Card but not both. He gentlemanly responds, “no worries, apology accepted just wanted credit where credit due” and fair enough! YES!

Bottom line, I spent 24 hours responding to every Re-Tweet of this quote (and there were TONS of them-the quote was that good!) by addressing the Twitterer with, “YES! Great quote by @sullivision wasn’t it?” making sure they KNEW it was Jim Sullivan’s not mine.

So here’s the bottom line citizens of Twitterville, check you facts, quotes and Tweeted gems before you pull the trigger. If you’re not sure of the quote put “Anonymous” after it. If you’re a “quote hoarder like I am, make sure that you CUT & PASTE the authors name.

24 words can cost you 24 hours of clean up.

Please check out my friend Jim Sullivan’s website out at and follow him on Twitter at @sullivision He’s a smart guy! Very quotable!


  1. Nice piece, and good advice for anyone who writes, not just on Twitter. I see these ads on TV all the time for the NY Times, and one of their selling points is that they have the best writers in the world and "that's no debating that." Actually, there is. Every time I see that ad, I yell at the TV: "Don't you remember Jason Blair, the guy who got fired for repeated plagiarism!" Yelling at the TV obviously does no good but it does make me feel better, and also shows that when you steal words and call them your own there is a price to pay. Didn't Mike Barnacle lose his job over something similar? Anyway, Twitter ain't the Paper Of Record, but it's good to keep the record straight anyway.

  2. Great advice Ty!
    Also brilliant way to handle it - everyone makes mistakes, it's only a matter of how we deal with them. In your case - kudos.

  3. Great recovery, Ty! Good thing you put the time and effort into mending your oopsie.

    I see more non-credited quotes posted on Facebook, for some reason. Grrr! Friends will post a quote and relish the comments (Oh, you're so inspiring; oh, you're great; yada-yada) and it never dawns on them to come clean, say it's not theirs, and explain where they got it. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I'll say it's most likely not intentional, but rather out of ignorance - aren't all our faux pas borne out of ignorance?

    Thanks for the advice!

  4. atta boy Ty!! to quote Harry and Lloyd, way to "TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!" - Dumb and Dumber (Harry).

  5. "He’s a smart guy! Very quotable!" LOL

    You did the right thing. And frankly you may be the best and most proactive apologiser I've met in ages.