Yesterday morning while walking Shadow I took notice of some of the bumper stickers on the cars I was passing. It was a rather interesting array of sentiments and loyalties, slapped on the back end of vehicles.
The messages varied from political and religious statements to favorite causes, teams, or bands. And of course educational affiliations were very present. Here’s a sampling of the bumper sticker messages I found, sometimes alone, and sometimes along with other bumper stickers:
“God Bless the Irish” paired with “Take my Hand, and not my Life” (with a picture of a fetus)
“Planet Fitness,” “POW/MIA,” and “Watch for motorcycles”
“Roburritos” (a local burrito place)
“If knitting were exercise, you could bounce a quarter off my (butt)” with “I love my Pomeranian” and “Warning: Dog Bites Republicans”
“Pittsburgh Steelers” and “Lebanon Valley College Dad”
“A quality public education is America’s promise to every student”
“Buy Fresh, Buy Local”
“walk in love,” and ”CI Records”
“Phillies” and “Baby on Board”
“Semper Fi” and “Lancaster Barnstormers”
Now remember, there is a lot of context here as well. The type of vehicle that sports the sticker in question can impact how we view it. Is that sticker touting an environmental cause on a hybrid or a gas guzzler?
The neighborhood or town is also important. A Dallas Cowboys bumper sticker in Philly would say a lot (and be dangerous). If the car is in motion, how the driver is driving might also color how you view the message on the sticker.
And of course you, the reader, are a part of the equation; your opinions, beliefs, and loyalties will also impact how the message is received, especially if you strongly agree or disagree with the message on the sticker.
In the same way, every tweet, every pin, every item posted or shared on Facebook tells us something about you or your business. For sure, it’s not the sum total of who you are, but it does color how we view you. And that can be troubling. If you’re anything like me, you might even share things that are in direct opposition to your belief system.
But I know that when I look at the messages that people slap on their vehicles, I make judgments about them. I look at their statements, and make educated guesses about who they are. Fair? Perhaps not, but we do it all the time.
As people come across your tweets, just one at a time, they will take them as isolated representations of you and your business. They will use what they see as a way of determining who you are.
Out of context? Perhaps. But reality, none the less.
If they look at several tweets, they might get a better idea, kind of like those cars with two, three, or even more bumper stickers.
We can’t control the way people receive our messages, but we can carefully choose what messages we convey. We think about our Twitter and Facebook content within the framework of everything we say and do, but those on the receiving end don’t always see the whole. They might only see one of the trees in the forest, and judge the rest of the forest based on that one tree.
Don’t labor over every little nuance of every little tweet. But be cognizant of what you are saying and how you are saying it. Understand the wide variety of contexts that others bring to the reception of your message. One tweet can make or break you.