When Should You Delete A Tweet?

Uh oh. That last tweet you sent sparked some wildfire among your followers, and now they’re flaming you. Maybe it was in bad taste, maybe you used a tad too much profanity for some, or maybe they’re just a little sensitive today.

Whatever the reason, you’re pretty sure you need to delete that tweet. But before you do, consider some Twitter etiquette tips for when to delete – and when to leave things well enough alone.

Twitter is not email. You’re not sending a tweet to just one person or a group of friends. When you hit “Tweet”, those 140-or-fewer-characters have the potential to be seen by every single one of Twitter’s 500 million users.

But even if you think long and hard about what you’re sending out there to the masses, you always run the risk of regretting a tweet.

So when should you put your tail between your legs and actually delete a tweet?

The answer isn’t simple, unfortunately. Because of the very public nature of everything you tweet, you’ve got to weigh the pros and cons of deleting a tweet before you go ahead with it.

Let’s say you tweeted something that is “off-brand” for your business – like an inappropriate picture of you out partying after-hours.

In this case, you could delete the tweet right when you realize you shouldn’t have tweeted it. However, you’ve got to keep in mind that the second you tweeted it, it could have been retweeted by any one of your followers.

Rather than delete this embarrassing tweet, you might want to consider the alternatives. You could apologize for the photo. You could own up to it, and admit you needed to let off some steam (after all, we’re all human).

However, if the photo is really embarrassing, delete it. Right now.

Right after you delete a tweet, it’s best to send out a quick acknowledgement of deletion. Just tweeting something like “Sorry for that last tweet, folks!” is enough to show people that you’re aware you made a mistake, but you don’t want to address the content of that rogue tweet.

So what situations call for a deleted tweet?

  • Anything that diminishes your personal brand
  • A tweet full of profanity (if that’s not your regular tweeting habit)
  • An embarrassing photo or video
  • A tweet that has several spelling or punctuation problems
  • A dead link (sending out a similar tweet with the correct link is good form here, if you can find it)
  • A half-finished tweet that you sent too early

And there are some situations in which you usually shouldn’t delete a tweet, even if you want to. Times where you lost an argument with another user, perhaps, or when you got negative feedback from your community over one of your opinions. If you delete a tweet or two in one of these situations, you’ll be sending a message that you’re not totally above-board in your tweeting habits, and you’ll be seen as someone who “sanitizes” their image a little too thoroughly.

What about you? What situations have you gotten yourself into that caused you to delete a tweet (or wish you had)? Let us know in the comments below.

(Delete button image via Shutterstock)