Anthony Weiner is the butt of a lot of jokes. Not because he's a ridiculous-looking guy, or one who dresses oddly, or has a dumb campaign gimmick to get himself noticed. And surely it's not because he's a politically controversial guy with views that most people cannot relate to.
No, it's because he is a social media dumbkompf. All of his political problems are because he has no clue how to use (more specifically, not use) social media to bolster his personal image and branding bottom line. There's more to it than that, though. He's made mistakes that aren't even related to his, shall we say, penchant for taking selfies.
In fact, his other social media gaffes are only serving to make his sexting problems worse. Considering the size, budget and scope of Weiner's campaign in New York, you'd think they'd have access to a social media expert of some kind. Instead, the campaign's social media efforts are more akin to a geriatric monkey whose never seen a smart phone before or had access to Twitter. Except the monkey wouldn't be able to type in coherent English, so few would know if they are mistakes.
Let's start from the beginning.
When Anthony Weiner announced his candidacy for the office of Mayor of New York City, his initial campaign showed a lot of social media promise. His official announcement putting him in the race was on YouTube in a bold and, it turns out, smart move. It got him the attention he needed to get started and it proved that he was savvy with new media. Or at least, it seemed that way.
The early campaign was well-balanced and handled well. They had their ducks in a row and canned responses for questions about his sexting scandals from two years before (dubbed Weinergate) that had caused him to resign his office in the U.S. Congress. He was fielding the inevitable questions well and turning the topic back towards political issues through a concerted effort both through in-person interviews and a strong social media presence.
Then, just as things were looking great for the campaign, another sexting scandal dropped and the cohesiveness of the campaign (and Weiner's presence in the media at large) immediately collapsed. While Weiner the candidate was busy (at first) denying that any sexual text messages or tweets had taken place, online accounts and captures of the New Weinergate were proliferating. Apparently ignorant of what was being said about him online, Weiner continued to blatantly lie to the press.
Then, when he did finally admit it, Weiner did so in a way that fell flat to those watching. While the attempt to create a sort of personal moment, involving his wife and family to show that he had core support at home, was a nice attempt, the tension was obvious and the suddenly lack of personality from the campaign on its social media outlets was plain. Since then, it's almost as if the candidate himself has been handling the campaign's social media work -- or, worse, it's in the hands of an intern -- because the messages have become disjointed and horribly timed.
This follows his regular campaign, which has seen huge shakeups and a loss of support from the public at large. To the point that when Weiner held a recent press conference, only one reported attended and the crowd was so sparse that photographers on scene from the campaign were seen standing around rather than take photos of such a demeaning turnout. Rumors that Weiner has been trying to hire fake crowds of supporters to bolster his image have not helped his chances either.
All of this because Anthony Weiner was not able to grasp how important social media is and how open and sharable things we post to it can become. Your personal image and the perception of those around you hinges on how you comport yourself. As our online presence becomes more and more crucial to our success, knowing how to properly manage your online reputation is paramount.
The next person searching your tweets and Facebook posts may be an employer, voter or reporter. How will you come across to them?
Follow Craig Agranoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lapp