Who’s guarding your Weinergate?

June 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

So far this week has been all about that sad clown, Rep. Anthony Weiner. Or more specifically, about his habit of sending young women half-naked self-portraits using his TweetDeck account. Then lying about being hacked, reversing himself in the most humiliating way, and begging forgiveness from a disgusted American public.

We don’t blame him for crying.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-D)The lifelong work he put into his political career just got the industrial airport super flush. The question on everyone’s mind: How could anyone be so stupid? Was he blinded by the glare off his waxed chest? What this seemingly boils down to is an egomaniac, who may have thought he was techno savvy, making a stupid mistake with Twitter’s Direct Message (DM) feature—essentially turning a private message public through a typing error.

For national politicians as careless as Weiner, all it takes is a healthy disregard for the power of Social Media, and the foolish belief that only your staff needs to worry about Internet technology, and your goose is cooked. Maybe “Weiner” will become a new slang term for bone-headed social media move by a politician. As in, “yeah, his career was going places until he pulled a Weiner.”

On his behalf, Weiner has since stammered that he thought his actions were “frivolous.” Well . . . most of America doesn’t agree, Tony. Nor do they like a politician who outright lies about fooling around on his wife, then admits everything because he suddenly realizes he is the worst liar on the planet. Rep. Weiner found himself smack dab in the middle of the first big Social Media political scandal, and on the same day that Steve Jobs introduced the iCloud—the hidden place where everyone’s information will be stored. Funny how these things happen.

So should others be worried about using new media now?

Yes and no. Social Media is a lot of things—but primarily it is a tool and it really depends on the person using that tool. That’s why businesses can’t entrust their Social Media to any Joe Schmoe or chest hair-waxing cheeseball like Weiner. And it’s why you really should dedicate time and resources to its constant maintenance. You can try avoiding it, but like it or not, Social Media is here to stay. The 2011 Social Habit report, just released by Edison Research and Arbitron, found that 46 million Americans check social media sites multiple times every day—and that number is only growing exponentially. A recent survey found that 70 percent of small businesses are using social media.

If you’re a small business, don’t let scandals like Weinergate scare you. Keep things professional and you’ll be fine. Just look at the payoff. You don’t need to buy all that expensive television or print advertising space to stay competitive. New media can allow you to build your own community of friends and fans and develop a kind of brand loyalty that those other traditional media outlets could only dream of. Of course, you won’t always be able to control the behavior of your communities—but that’s just another reason why constant monitoring is necessary. Take it seriously.

Jim Blasingame, a columnist at Forbes Magazine, writes in his June 6, 2011 column: “Think of your website as the living room where you entertain new friends and social media communities as the den you share with close friends.”  Indeed, websites are still important. They should make a solid first impression and not confuse or annoy the viewer with too much information or bad design. A website should instill confidence and show a clarity of purpose when it comes to messaging or selling points. And there should be no scantily clad photos of anything—unless you’re in the porn industry.

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