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Kanye's Twitter Feud Is A Lesson In What's Off Limits Online

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KANYE WEST WIZ KHALIFA
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What started as online promotion for his new album Waves soon turned into Kanye West apologizing for his online behaviour and regretting his part in a Twitter feud with fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa.

After posting a tweet teasing his new album name, Waves, rapper Wiz Khalifa responded with tweets questioning the album name and West's use of the word Waves.

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Annoyed by Khalifa's response, West started on a long rant, eventually questioning Khalifa's ex-wife Amber Rose's character (Rose is also West's ex girlfriend) and even dragging Khalifa and Rose's three-year old son, Sebastian, into the mess.

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The online response resulted in backlash from fans and media coverage questioning what areas should be off limits in online "word battles."

You or your business may not have 18 million followers on Twitter, but the lessons from this impulsive online exchange can serve as a lesson for anyone who has an online profile. When you communicate instantly through social media, it's easy to find yourself caught up in an emotional exchange with another user who is criticizing you or your brand.

Often there is no one there to tell you to pause and think about your response, and a post that is either inaccurate or offensive can have you rushing for the keyboard to right the wrong and push back.

Here are a few PR lessons from the Kanye West Twitter feud that will prevent you from having to issue an apology for your own online behaviour.

Tweets are permanent and the online community is watching

Remember that when you post a tweet or any online comment, these words now live forever and can't be taken back. You may be able to delete your post, but all it takes is a quick screen grab from another user and your original post lives on.

Are you comfortable knowing that your post will be on your profile forever and that there is no delete button? Think carefully when you post, knowing that your words are permanent.

Handle emotional responses with care and post after consideration

With 24/7 access to instant online communication, the next tweet about you may come as you check your mobile while out with friends for drinks or late at night when you are home and exhausted after a busy day. Wherever you are and whatever your frame of mind, the best response to an online post that brings out emotion is to stop, sit and wait.

Don't post impulsively, even if the post is factually inaccurate. Think about the post and how you want to respond. You may even consider consulting your PR/communications team to get their advice since it can be hard to think clearly when your character or brand's character is being attacked.

Remember why you are online and the message your are trying to carry

While Kanye's passion is music, sometimes we have to remind ourselves why we are online and what we want to communicate. Especially as a brand, this "return to basics" helps us to ensure that our posts are consistent with our values and what we stand for.

If we are online trying to promote and engage around animal welfare, for example, straying too far from this topic, and your passion for animals, starts to dilute your online brand and may have people questioning who you are and what you stand for.

Don't attack personal character -- there are some areas that are simply off limits

When someone provokes you online, it can be easy to fall into a war of words that has you questioning the ethics and quality of one's character. Keep these questions offline and to yourself! Bringing someone's character, their family members, their associates or anything personal into your online engagement will likely have you reaching for the delete button in regret.

Stay factual and civil when responding, if you think the tweet is worthy of a response at all. Engaging in a twitter battle is never a good idea. Stick to one or two factual responses and then take the dialogue offline to continue the conversation, if needed.

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