The Rules of Engagement on Twitter

“Quick-tempered staffers locked in battle via Twitter is hardly the stuff of campaign legend just yet, but spats in the Twitter-verse—either spontaneous or calculated—are becoming increasingly common. The reality, warn online strategists, is that plenty of damage can be done in 140 characters, especially if a candidate gets dragged into the fray. And at the very least, exchanges on Twitter can turn into an unwanted distraction for a campaign.

But if it’s a genuine question or even an accusation from a voter, Republican online strategist Vincent Harris says a response is, with little exception, necessary. Understanding that social media is a two-way street, he says, the worst thing a campaign can do is remain unresponsive to legitimate comments and critiques.

“[Staffers] should never say anything they don’t want to be on record,” says Harris. “They need to understand that they’re just as much in the public domain as the candidates are.”