Social Media Lessons Learned from Weinergate

June 17, 2011 - Posted by BMS

Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned yesterday, after failing to weather the social media storm created when he accidentally posted what was a very private photo to his very public Twitter account and subsequently lied about it.

With one errant keystroke, Weiner cemented his legacy as (another) politician caught with his pants down, rather than as a Congressman with significant legislative accomplishments. Follow these social media lessons to avoid your own Weinergate.

Weinergate Can Happen To Anyone

Social media is having an increasingly large impact on how your brand is perceived, both positively and negatively. And it’s not just pictures of you in your underwear that can garner a bad social reputation.

Remember last week’s YouTube video featuring returning U.S. troops complaining about Delta Airlines’ baggage fee?  It took less than a day before Delta yelled “Uncle!” and reversed their policy, but the PR damage was already done.

How about Comcast?  They have been slammed repeatedly in social media with viral videos, tweets and negative blog posts. Entire websites, such as, have even been established by irate customers.

To be sure, it’s not just the customers who could be harming your business’ reputation via social media.  Sometimes the damage is done from within.

During the recent uprising in Egypt, shoe designer Kenneth Cole’s attempt at humor fell flat when he tweeted “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at”

Then there’s the infamous Chrysler Twitter “F-Bomb” scandal, in which someone posting to @ChryslerAutos mistakenly thought he was on his personal account, rather than the corporate, when he hit some traffic and filled his time by tweeting obscenities about Detroit drivers.

Monitor Your Social Reputation

The combination of new technology and consumer generated media has significantly strengthened the voice and influence of consumers. So, it’s imperative that you take control of your company’s social reputation.

  • Carefully consider who can post to your social media accounts.
  • Avoid using the same program to manage both personal and corporate accounts
  • Monitor your social channels regularly
  • Remove offensive content immediately should any appear

Social media is a great way to connect with and engage your customers, but simply using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook is not enough.  Though important, social networks are only part of the equation. Message boards, user groups, social bookmarking sites, podcasts and niche online communities are other channels to be considered. A little research will show you where your customers are socializing and that’s where you need to be.

To establish and nurture a great social reputation, you need to invest in the development and implementation of a solid social media strategy.  Unless you have a dedicated in-house staffer to handle your SM program, you might consider hiring a professional.   Social media pros can help you develop your marketing strategy, set up your SM accounts, provide optimized content, acquire fans and followers, and coordinate content syndication.  After your program is launched, they can maintain and monitor your program, engaging your customers, building relationships and fostering good will for your brand.

Whether you hire a professional team or handle it in-house, your social media program should adhere to a few basic guidelines:

  • Be authentic
  • Be respectful
  • Listen to and understand your audience
  • Provide valuable content
  • Above all else, avoid posting images of body parts unless they’re relevant to your brand.

What’s the worst social media gaffe that you’ve come across? What were the consequences?



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