Five Social Media Lessons for @Messina2012 About His Chimichanga Tweet

Feb 15, 2012
9:41 PM

Social media is quick and social media is brutal. If you are going to use platforms like Twitter, expect to be called out, no matter who you are or what you do. EVERYONE is now a web page, and every profile is just as important as every other profile. The ability to quickly send out a message to thousands or even millions is powerful. But just like any power, you must respect it or else it will bite you in the culo.

We have been covering countless instances where social media gaffes have led to US Congressmen resigning for tweeting pics of their junk, major beer brands removing ads that were offensive to the NYC Puerto Rican community, Taco Mayors getting called out for their ignorant comments, and major networks perpetuating stereotypes with lame-ass comedy in the name of Latino unity. Add to the mix the whole clueless comments by major political candidates and their deep misunderstanding of how to gain the US Latino vote, and you ask yourself: DO PEOPLE IN POWER TRULY UNDERSTAND THAT THE DIGITAL WORLD IS FLAT NOW? Do they realize that their tweets, shares, notes, comments, and opinions are open to more scrutiny and criticism? And do they even realize the the most effective way to actually "be ahead of the story" and be "in control of their message" is to respond quickly, honestly, and without the traditional old media (and slower) response?

No. They still don't get it.

Take the case of Jim Messina, the campaign manager for Obama 2012, who this morning at 9 am EST probably thought that the following tweet would get him some chuckles and earn him some points. (Lesson #1: It is clear that Messina doesn't really "get" Twitter, especially since he has less than 200 tweets and doesn't understand that to be effective on Twitter, you truly need to ENGAGE and RESPOND to the stream. 197 tweets is a sign that all your profile does is a bit of one-way communication, which in the land of Twitter, is a major #FAIL.) Here is the tweet:

Lesson #2: Really really know what you are tweeting about. There is really no Latino we know that associates his or her cultural identity with a chimichanga. What if Messina tweeted out the following?

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Fried chicken? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer Blacks."

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Chopsticks? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer Asians."

"Line of the day from WAPO's Dana Milbank: Whiskey? It might be the only thing left the GOP could offer the Irish."

and so on and so on.

The point is this: if you are going to get into the world of ethnic identity and treat a group, ANY GROUP, as one monolithic voting bloc, you will truly need to understand the complexities of cultural identity and stereotyping. If you don't, here's some advice: don't make your views public.

Lesson #3: If you are going to tweet something that you REALLY want to put in context, you have ways to do it. First, call out the profile of the person you are quoting. Second, add a link from the column you are referring in the tweet. What you DON'T do is set up it with a Obama 2012-approved tweet of the day seal. And you definitely don't make the tweet appear that the campaign manager of Obama 2012 is endorsing a columnist's dumb and stereotypical line in the interest of appealing to US Latino voters. That was Messina's Twitter mistake. After that, once the tweet it out there, you become a like a Roman prisoner in the Coliseum, waiting for the crazed lions to pounce on you.

Lesson #4: If you DO tweet out your mistake, be prepared to respond and respond quickly. Messina's Twitter account failed big time in this instance. We kind of gave this same advice to Amaury Nolasco last month, but we will say it again: once you tweet out to the Twitterverse, you are fair game. It is rough out there, it is tough, and if you are not ready to respond and respond authentically, you are only adding fuel to the fire.

And then profiles like @SooperMexican are ready to attack and guess what, that profile, even though the Sooper is a bit too partisan for our taste in most instances, he knows how to play the Twitter game and for that we give him props and respect. Sooper made this story Messina's Twitter mistake and Messina let him do it. Messina lost the momentum of the story because he didn't respond quickly enough. Well played, Sooper. Too bad you don't do the same when GOP politicians talk about electric fences killing illegals, Arizona sheriffs push racism in their policing tactic or when people in general insult Latinos with dumb ignorant comments. We would love to have you speak out against that, too. But it's cool, you do what you do and you stay true to yourself, and that is why even though we don't agree with you on everything (although today we can share one big chimichanga together), we still respect you because you are honest and stick to your guns.

Lesson #5: When you DO respond with another tweet, don't hide behind the intent of your first tweet with something like this:

Instead, be humble, be authentic, be apologetic. Use humor. Say you screwed up and that you are sorry and that your intent was to just quote a column you read that day. But don't tweet, hey, we still know better even though I had previously tweeted something that would piss off a sector of people whose vote I am trying to court.

Granted, in the end ChiminchangaGate (or whatever it is called) will not turn the tide for the GOP. Like Ricky Ricardo used to say, "You got a lot of explainin' to do." However, Democrats and the people in influential positions of leadership in the Democratic party (like the President's campaign manager) are just having a big Latino Panderfiesta when they tweet out thoughts like Messina's.

Leave the chimichangas to Taco Bell. Focus on the real issues that will gain you the Latino vote: jobs, the economy, a passage of the Dream Act, a more realistic and comprehensive immigration policy. Focus on that and leave Twitter to the people who know Twitter. Let the GOP try to figure out how to truly capture 25% of the US Latino vote. They will be lucky if they get 15%, but chimichanga tweets don't help.

And while you are at, @Messina2012, just say that you goofed and move on.