Wienergate – or – The Pen is Mightier

By Amanda Smyth Connor

Or – Junk Mail. (I’ll give you a moment to let that one sink in.)

This wiener refuses to resign
This wiener refuses to resign

Thank you, Anthony Wiener, for being the inspiration for this cautionary blog post and for so humbly giving yourself over to newscasters and comedians across the country who simply cannot get enough of the Wiener jokes.

However, all joking aside, using social media responsibly is harder than you think. The temptation to tweet a picture of my naughty bits out to all of my loyal followers is almost too much to bear some days. Yet, I do my best to follow a few simple rules of social media usage, and while I may not be perfect, I feel pretty confident that you won’t find any nudie pics of me online any time soon. (You’re welcome.)

1. Think before you Tweet. Whether you are tweeting as yourself or tweeting on behalf of a client, think before you press that little “TWEET” button. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck make it even easier for you to impulsively tweet anything you like, but for the love of the Fail Whale, read your tweets through, spell check yourself, and then re-read your tweet again. Can this tweet be misconstrued? Am I offending any clients, readers or customers? Am I blurting something out that I may later regret? Am I tweeting from the right account? Does my junk look good in this Twitpic? Measure twice, tweet once.

2. Stop. Collaborate and listen. In the words of the great “Vanilla Ice,” if you have any doubt in your head that what you are about to post, update or tweet may not be 100% kosher, ask a friend. Get a second set of eyes on that social media messaging before you send it out into the world wide web … where nothing can ever really be taken back.

3. I stand by this now but will I regret this later? You may feel strongly about an opinion or position now, but putting your thoughts and opinion out there while news is breaking or tempers are flaring may mean you’ll have to eat your words later when questioned. I’m not asking you to sensor yourself, but I am suggesting that before you post anything inflammatory, think about how far reaching the effects of your post may be. As I said, once it’s alive on the interweb, chances are that you’ll never be able to kill it.

4. Don’t post pictures of your naughty bits online. No further explanation needed here. And if you need further proof of why this is a bad idea, I present to you: Anthony Wiener’s Apology Speech as Presented by Guilty-Looking Dachshunds.

Amanda Smyth Connor is a community manager for a major publishing company, owns her own wedding planning business, and has managed online communities and content development for many start-up and Fortune 500 companies.  She has been a professional editor for more years than she can remember.