Fruity Cereal and Loopy Ideas: Why Social Media Can Endanger Your Brand

Trix are for kids. And Twitter is for twits.

If my father were still alive, that’s what he would have said. Maybe he’d have skipped the part about the fruity cereal — he didn’t allow my brother and me to eat Trix — but he definitely would have chimed in with a derisive comment about CEOs who banked on 140-character communications for their business success.

Katherine Kotaw's father in pre-Twitter days

Katherine’s father in pre-Twitter days.

I would have argued with him and he would have called me a twit. It was one of his favorite words but one directed more often at my brother than me.

My father loved words and, though he could sometimes carry on an entire conversation without exceeding Twitter’s space limit, he would have objected to the idea of being controlled by it.

And laughed at the idea of grown men typing messages to an invisible audience. Or about the idea of grown men typing at all.

That’s what secretaries were for. His views about men, women and business have no place in the new millennium. But I confess to agreeing with one part of his outdated thinking: a lot of people behave like twits on Twitter and other forms of social media.

Will Social Media Die of Boredom?

And I’m not talking about headline-producing PR blunders like sharing nude photos and drug-fueled rants. I’m talking about the far more harmful — and more prevalent — faux pas committed on social media sites:

Saying nothing of interest.

If you have nothing to say, you don’t need 140 characters. You don’t need any.

Hundreds of thousands, if not hundreds of millions of business owners or members of their marketing departments faithfully post tweets once or several times daily. Most should stop.

More tweeting is not better tweeting. Dull tweeting is just twitting.

If you don’t have anything to say, keep quiet. Don’t broadcast your lack of thoughts to a universal audience.

It’s better to quit than twit.

How to engage your social media audience | KOTAW Content MarketingDIY  Disasters

It’s not Twitter’s fault. Twitter is just a tool. And a tool doesn’t make anyone an expert.

I could buy out Home Depot’s entire inventory of power drills, and I still wouldn’t be able to build a table — or even hang my Pottery Barn sconces properly. I am not a carpenter or a woodworker or any kind of builder or fixer.

Except when it comes to words. Tools like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn make me a better word artisan because they add power to my messages. They make my job easier, faster and more efficient.

Social media can provide unparalleled power to your content marketing strategy if you learn how to use the tool.

Telephone Twit?

When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, the first words he spoke on the device were “Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.”

It was about as interesting as a Twitter post that says, ‘Here’s my link. Click on it.”

The telephone did not make anyone a telemarketer or a witty conversationalist. It was just a tool that expanded the possibilities of communication. Social media does the same thing.

It makes it possible to inform, educate and engage your audience in ways neither Bell nor my father ever imagined.

Or it can make you look like a silly rabbit.


Don’t be a twit — post a comment below! (please) I really welcome your thoughts about social media and how it has affected your personal or company brand


  1. Meghan L. says:

    The entire time I was reading this article, all I kept thinking was “Yes, yes, YES, I completely agree!!” My favorite line: “If you don’t have anything to say, keep quiet. Don’t broadcast your lack of thoughts to a universal audience.” This is just too funny because it’s so true. Entertaining and informative article!

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      It’s hard to keep quiet when your news feed keeps flashing before your eyes and it seems as if everyone is talking. You want to jump in and say something so that the world knows you exist. I feel the compulsion every time I’m on Twitter or Facebook But I try — and usually succeed — to rethink what I wrote before hitting the enter key. I wish there were a warning button that popped up before you published your comments: “What you’re about to send is going on your permanent record. Does it belong there?” Thanks for writing, Meghan — your thoughts are keepers! :)

  2. […] Katherine's father in pre-Twitter days. Trix are for kids. And Twitter is for twits. If my father were still alive, that's what he would have said.  […]

  3. Crosby says:

    The character limit on twitter means that in order to construct an interesting tweet, the tweeter must be a) creative b) witty c) direct. The problem is, many people simply lack these characteristics, even in non-twitter land — they are slightly dull, lacking in the sense of humor department, and have the unfortunate tendency of rambling on and on.

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      In real life, some people are marvelous ramblers, but usually because they are (a) creative and (b) witty. Twitter deserves credit for teaching us the art of brevity. Thanks, Crosby, for joining the conversation here.

  4. Mandi says:

    We live in an ego-centric world, where everyone thinks their every thought and action merits broadcasting. It’s — at least in part — the result of the reality TV phenomenon that taught the world that anyone and everyone — no matter how banal, stupid, crazy or inadequate — can become an object of public fascination.

    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thanks for commenting, Mandi. You’re right about reality TV — and that’s edited! No one needs an editor to post their thoughts on social media, but many will wish they had one when an old tweet comes back to haunt them. There are some celebrities I follow on Twitter and, while what they say in that forum is probably not damaging their careers, it does diminish their brands. I would hit the “unfollow button” on several if it weren’t in my professional interest to keep tabs on them. Based on your well-reasoned argument here, Mandi, I believe you and Twitter will get along just fine!

  5. […] It was a painful lesson — “irascible” doesn’t begin to describe the real-life Lou Grant — but it is one that I’ve repeated in gentler terms to all of my personal and corporate branding clients. […]

  6. Glenn says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your father. You’re absolutely correct — Twitter is much more likely to die of boredom than scandal. Sure, a people can ruin their reputation by posting something scandalous — but the public is fascinated by that. The old saying holds true: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But when followers are bombarded by snooze-worthy, meaningless tweets, that’s when social media is in real trouble.

  7. […] the same as that of content marketing, even though the original intent may differ.  For example, Trix cereal’s brilliant advertising campaign has captivated audiences for over 50 […]

  8. OMG! I laughed out loud after reading the title – darling, you definitely are a ‘word artisan’. In fact, I believe that social media does NOT add power to your messages. Au contraire, YOU make social media marketing more powerful and fun through your spectacular articles and word plays.


    • Katherine Kotaw says:

      Thank you, Kit! I actually believe social media can dilute your message — if there is little strength in what you’re saying. It’s one thing to be boring in private, quite another to make blandness public. You, Kit, are never bland or boring, which is why your voice is so distinctive on ANY platform. Keep writing!!

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