Should Politicians Throw In The Twitter Towel?

By Carrie Kerpen

Oh, #weinergate.

Anthony Weiner will live in infamy as the man who showed his “weiner” to the Twitterverse. But to those that are passionate about social media as a vehicle to change the world, he leaves a legacy that is potentially far more long-lasting in social media.

We’ve written before about politicians who have their aides tweet or Facebook on their behalf, and we’ve written about those who actually share their authentic selves on social sites. Anthony Weiner was one of the authentic tweeters, using his high school photo, and creating hashtags like #conflictedClarenceThomas to add humor to issues of relevance.

With Anthony Weiner’s personal preferences literally exploding (ew) on the internet, will politicians EVER feel comfortable being their authentic selves online? Will they EVER again tweet from the senate floor?

I felt very strongly that this would scare most politicians from being their authentic selves on Twitter. After all, with all of these scandals, one could argue that whatever the DNA makeup  is of someone who has a desire for political success also has a propensity for skeletons hiding in their closet.

I was tweeting about this the other day, and all about how I’ve really lost my faith in politicians everywhere, and their ability to be real. And then, I received the following unprompted direct message.

Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark New Jersey, proactively reached out to me with a DM of hope and understanding, with an authentic message, which is definitely not from an aide.

And, so, Mayor Booker, I thank you. Thank you for being my last hope for authenticity from politicians in social spaces. I hope a few more politicians take a cue from you, and don’t throw in the Twitter towel.

In Dave’s book, he talks about businesses and social media, talking about how social media WON’T help grow your business if your product sucks. It’s the same thing with politicians. If you have skeletons in your closet that can damage your career, then Twitter won’t help you. However, if you want to use social media as a way to communicate with your constituents, if you want to deepen your relationships with voters, if you actually want to change the world….then social media is a great place for you to be.

What do you think? Should politicians go back to more of a one way dialogue to avoid slipups? Share here!

Ben Lieblich June 16, 2011
Just read that Weinergate has ended with the perpetrator's resignation. Big surprise there, huh? Back to your original question, Carrie, there are lots of ways to disrespect elective office. Rep Weiner chose one of the most weird and salacious. But disengaging from the people you represent is disrespectful as well. Whether you like his policies or his actions, Cory Booker is totally present for his constituency. I'd like to see more of his kind of leadership.
Donn James June 16, 2011
My mother always told me to wear clean underwear, ostensibly on the premise that I could be in some sort of horrific tragedy that caused me to lose my pants. This lone tenet made me understand that anything can happen anywhere, anytime. If he can't keep a secret about what's in his pants, why would he expect anyone else to keep it a secret?
Carrie June 16, 2011
Thanks for your comments! Awiselatina, you make a good point about the correlation between tweeting and doing your job effectively. I'm not an expert in the rebuilding of cities, but it seems like Newark has a long way to go but is making strides towards growth and success. Look at how Cory's prominence in the social space led to the 100 million dollar investment in Newark schools from Mark Zuckerberg for instance. I think the combination of being present and being there, and actually responding to constituents, as I'm sure he has responded to you, make for a good case study. Justin, totally agree.
Justin Freid June 15, 2011
It's time for Weiner to throw in the towel on Twitter. His probably needs to be replaced. Politicians like Cory Booker who actively engage with their constituencies (he even showed up to help shovel snow after a Newark resident tweeted that he was having trouble) show the potential power of a short message network. A politician who is honest and forthright and has thick enough skin to deal with the criticism and vitriol such back-and-forths can produce, won't need aids to fill his Twitter feed. The good PR that even just a daily tweet letting the public know what an elected official is up provides outweighs the risk of a couple of off-the-cuff dumb tweets...provided that they're not pictures.
AWiseLatina June 15, 2011
Cory Booker likes to do that. Mr.Mayor spends an inordinate time on Twitter. But instead of sharing City Hall news as he sees it, it's a lot of drivel. He has over 1mm followers, he is on Fourscore, he is on Youtube's Ask the World Leaders. It is evident that he is gathering exposure. Meanwhile, the city of Newark is a gangster infested, killing field. The problem with Social Media is that everybody is -a wantst2b-wishes2b-hopes2b-a celebrity of some sort. It is ridiculously fake and phony. But then, I am not a lover or admirer of the American capitalist, clone & market, lie and hide, paradigm. America is so pebbled with false ads, liars, sexual perverts and under-educated persons that today's youth cannot differentiate between morality and just having fun. There are intelligent Twitterers. Talking about all sort of things. You may want to go on a search mission. Please don't stop at Mr. Look at me, am supposed to be running a city, but I'd rather be using a social marketing app. to pass the time. I am sick of him, and he knows it.

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