Two years after resigning his congressional seat in the wake of sexual photographs sent to female followers, Anthony Weiner is back on Twitter, the scene of the scandal. Instead of returning to his original @repweiner account, he opted to get tweeting under a new one, @AnthonyWeiner, a move he dubbed “a fresh start” Here are a few tips for the "Weiner brand" as it wades back into the danger zone—some of which can apply to any tainted brand that has embarrassed itself on Twitter.
- Let them get their laughs out
Whether at a press conference or a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, Weiner needs to open up the floor for questions and, more importantly, jokes. Saturate the internet with Weiner humor all at once by the end, tweets like “You’ll rise again Weiner. Good luck.” will incite barely an eye roll.
- Two handles are not better than one
By disregarding his original tainted handle, Weiner is also losing the 68,036 followers he amassed on @repweiner. Yes, a handful of those followers received his infamous selfies, but if Weiner's goal is to rev up his mayoral campaign and rebuild his image, he could use the extra 59,924 pairs of eyeballs (his new handle has only 8,112). If he stays with the new account, suspend the old one: It’s confusing and still features tweets claiming he was #hacked. If he decides he could use the nearly 60,000-follower boost, then delete those denial tweets (they're all over the internet anyway), change the handle, drop the new account, and get cracking on that fresh start.
- Just say no to Direct Messages (DM)
DM confusion has felled many a high profile tweeter, Weiner among them. There are very few appropriate reasons for Weiner to send direct messages to followers, so it’s best for him to just nix that form of communication altogether. There are other, more foolproof ways to get in touch.
- Keep good company
When it comes to whom Weiner should be following, he needs to keep it strictly professional politicians, local charities, even a favorite author or two. The media will be scrutinizing his Twitter activity more than ever, looking for potential pic recipients: Don’t let them find any.
- Define the new @anthonyweiner
Even if Weiner's return to Twitter is purely about the mayoral race, it is also an opportunity to rehabilitate his image. He should be tweeting about policy, but also including personal tweets and twitpics of his young son, Jordan, universally-adored wife, Huma Abedin, and the family's activities together. This will reinforce his reformation and give followers a glimpse into his off-duty life. America loves a redemption story, and Weiner’s return to the Twitterverse might be the ticket if it’s handled correctly. After all, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank weathered a gay prostitution scandal and was re-elected 11 times, not to mention serial philanderer Newt Gingrich, whose political career is alive and well. If Weiner plays his cards right, a collection of embarrassing cell phone pictures won’t be able to stand between him and Gracie Mansion.