While the media seems to be nothing short of possessed by Congressman Anthony Weiner's [D-NY] digital indiscretions on Twitter in these last 10 days, I actually think that there is a teachable moment here for people in politics & business alike because we see powerful people [typically men] getting embroiled in sexual peccadilloes on a regular basis these days. What can people in business learn from this latest scandal when it comes to navigating the rocks & shoals of social media?
Five Social Media Business Takeaways From The Weiner Scandal
- Twitter can help to create & build a business or personal brand but it can
just as easily destroy it if not used prudently
- Twitter can be a fantastic PR tool when used correctly BUT remember:
once something is asserted on twitter, you cannot obfuscate, dissemble,
or even become suddenly silent when asked a straightforward question [is that a picture of you]
- The cover-up is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS worse than the original
"crime" or action. Trying to hide the truth speaks to [a lack of] trust,
integrity and leadership. We are all flawed so people will forgive human
failings because there is no such thing as a perfect person but are also less inclined to do so when they you lie about them
- Privacy as we used to know it has gone the way of the horse & buggy. Now the best the average person can expect is the illusion of privacy but there is absolutely ZERO privacy if you are a public person who is accountable to the people for your job. To that end, one could easily argue that Weiner wanted to be caught. Be that as it may, there will always be people watching you; people who are not only just waiting for you to fail [or to otherwise make a fool out of yourself] but also waiting to share your failure with everyone all over the internet. Do not make their jobs any easier by doing it yourself. Remember, once something is on Google, it is there for perpetuity
- When tweeting for business, it is NOT the place for satire or dark humor
although in Weiner's case, his name makes it almost inescapable because part of what has been feeding the media is the copy-rich double entendre which makes for attention-grabbing headlines. Nonetheless, humor can easily backfire & can therefore create awkward spin. Remember that something is funny only when people are laughing with you, not at you
Never Put It In A Picture
These points are perhaps best summarized by an odd pair of political bedfellows, Martin Lomnasney & former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer who was caught in his own sexual escapades. Nomnasney, a state senator & political Boston ward boss from an earlier era said, “Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.” Spitzer then added a critical addendum “never put it in email.” My guess is that Weiner's postscript would be "never put it in a picture & post it!" Or as I said in a previous post, "social media giveth & it taketh away!"