Over this last weekend, I watched a rather strange conversation unfolding on twitter. All at once it was morbidly fascinating, darkly amusing, and a bit perplexing.

Guy Kawasaki (yes, that Guy Kawasaki) replied to a tweet by an acquaintance of mine concerning her review of Canva. Her tweet linked back to a blog review of Canva’s suitability to commercial print.

I watched the brief flurry totally entranced. As a software company, we are firmly in the Tech world, and in particular, I am something of a Guy fan. At the same time, my software is written specifically for the printing industry and we have done so for the last 20 odd years. We’ve picked up a thing or 2 about commercial printing along the way.

So it was from my middle of the fence position that I read, re-read and digested the conversation, trying to extract some great Universal Meaning from it.

Here’s what I gleaned about conversing on twitter (and I’m not making any judgements or assumptions about Katherine or Guy)

Make sure you’re both having the same conversation.photo2

It was clear to me that there were two different conversations going on. Katherine was seizing the opportunity to give some valuable inside industry feedback about Canva. Guy on the other seemed to be stepping into the ring ready to have a friendly joust. Not the same conversation at all. So of course it went downhill after the first tweets were exchanged.

Know who you are conversing with.

Guy is something of a celebrity, so Katherine was clearly at an advantage here. However, her blog review has been out for months, and Katherine is fairly well known, liked and respected in the world of print globally. I’m quite sure Guy wasn’t prepared for the greater #PrintChat community to watch, and comment on the exchange. #Printchat trends at least once worldwide almost every week, and while the community of active participants may not be huge by social media standards, our combined following (ie passive viewers of the #PrintChat stream)  is not a small by any means, which leads me into my final point.

photo3You never know who’s watching on twitter

Opinions are great, we all have them, and twitter is a fantastic platform for expressing them. When you’re doing stuff for your business however, it pays to be a bit diplomatic. Don’t censor yourself by any means, just maybe hold back on the rhetoric and watch your tone. It can so so easy to be misinterpreted when you only have 140 characters to work with.  I don’t think any less of Guy, or Katherine after watching the conversation, it was far too mild for that, I do know that some people in my network thought badly of him though. And that’s the point really, you never know who’s watching when you publicly express yourself.