The New Year is quickly approaching and, with the New Year, comes resolutions. If I could guess, I’d say that a popular resolution for 2012 might, or at least should have to do with improving Twitter behavior. I don’t need to dwell on how powerful social media can be, but I do want to reinforce the point that Twitter can either make or break a reputation. Reputations can be ruined in the short time it takes to type 140 characters or less. 2011 was a hell of year for bad tweets – here are my thoughts on the absolute worst:

1) Gilbert Gottfried: In March, millions of people were devastated by the deadly earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Following the disaster, comedian Gilbert Gottfried tweeted a slew of insensitive remarks including:

@Real Gilbert: “I just split up with my girlfriend, but like the Japanese say, They’ll be another one floating by any minute now.’ ”

Result? Gottfried lost his job as the longtime voice of the Aflac duck. To make matters worse, 75% of Aflac’s business was done in Japan.

Bottom line: This guy has no class. He didn’t think about the impact of what he was tweeting and therefore, this is a great example of what not to do via Twitter.

2) Ashton Kutcher: There is no need to rehash the ongoing Penn State scandal; we all know how unfortunate the entire crisis has been … well all of us except Ashton who tweeted this to his 8 million followers:

@plusk:”How do you fire Jo Pa? as a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste, #insult #noclass. ”

Result? Ashton chickened out and turned his Twitter account over to his PR team.

Bottom Line: Isn’t that running away from the problem? Instead of showing followers that he learned a lesson and would be more aware in the future, he took the easy way out and quit. That’s no way to rebuild your reputation, but honestly I’m not sure I care.

3) Anthony Weiner: In May, Congressman Weiner tweeted a lewd photo of himself that he meant to send as a direct message to a 21-year-old college student. Instead of admitting to his wrongdoings, he denied the accusations saying his Twitter account was “hacked.”

@RepWeiner: Insert lewd image here and use your imagination.

Result? It took two weeks for the truth to surface, however, the media pressure eventually caused him to admit to his errors. He resigned shortly after.

Bottom Line: He is a sad personality and ended up making matters worse. Tell the truth and get on with it.

4) Rashard Mendenhall: Pittsburgh Steelers running back’s Twitter reaction following the death of Osama Bin Laden:

@R_Mendenhall: What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side … ”

Result? Anger and outrage and the loss of an endorsement deal with Champion.

Bottom line: Really? You do know who Osama Bin Laden is right? Also, you play in America … right?

5) Kenneth Cole: In February, the hasthag #Cairo was a trending topic due to the protests in Egypt. The controversy was anything but a joke … except to the fashion designer who tweeted:

@KennethCole: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at -KC”

Result? The twitter sphere ripped Cole apart, who later deleted the post and apologized on his Facebook page saying the tweet was, “poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

Bottom Line: Probably not the best idea to use the uprising in Cairo to promote a new fashion line, not to mention that it definitely wasn’t funny. Careless and stupid and enough to cause consumers not to buy. What does deleting really do anyways … we all already saw it.

6) Alec Baldwin: Alec Baldwin was ejected from an American Airlines flight after refusing to shut off his iPhone despite several requests from flight attendants. Baldwin had a public meltdown on Twitter.

@AlecBaldwin: “Let’s play a game called Mass Unfollowing. I want to crash this act and start again. But, tonight at 10 PM, NY time, unfollow me.”

Result? It is not clear how many of his followers actually unfollowed him, but his Twitter account was later deactivated.

Bottom Line: Did Ashton give you advice on Twitter troubles? Yet another celebrity feeling entitled. Alec, man up.

Cheers! Happy New Year and Happy Tweeting.