Athletes & social networks: Think before you speak

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Using social media (i.e. social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter etc.) for sportspeople, clubs seems to be more necessary (and easy) than ever, but, careful, inappropriate way of use can make a serious damage. There are some good and bad examples of social media using.

When I talk about Twitter I just can’t miss Lance Armstrong: he was (and still is) definitely one of the first (and most exposed) athletes who knew how and why to use it. When he was injured, the first photo coming into public was from his Twitter profile. He also announced birth of his son Max via this social network (see post bellow). Of course, he had a reason, which made sense – being a media by himself, he tried to avoid tabloids. It’s a great way to communicate, engage with fans and give them the information you like from the very first hand.

Leo Messi is not that much into social media, but he made great impression with joining  the Facebook (see page bellow) not so long ago. “Lionel Messi joins Facebook, reaches 6.7 million fans, gains 40,000 interactions in a few hours”, were the most frequent comments. Well, the truth is a little different: Messi didn’t get almost 7 million like fans in a single day; he just posted his first update.

The story – like in case of Armstrong – makes sense: FC Barcelona posted “Messi’s joining the Facebook!” where the Catalan club didn’t actually say if Messi’s joining to the Facebook or he’s just posting for the first time. The viral effect was like tsunami; Argentinean was trending topic on Twitter and topic number 1 on the blogs etc. With smart Barça’s press release, which was published world-wide, he got – for that I’m sure – at least extra million of Facebook fans.

On the other hand, there are some negative examples. Some of the NBA players were posting on Twitter during or right after the game (!?!), that’s why is not surprising that NBA has a ban in place on social media from 45 minutes before game time until after players have finished their responsibilities after games. “NBA Social Media Policy” is a serious thing!

The NFL has similar restrictions. It has confirmed a reputation as the “No Fun League” by banning all social media activity by players, their representatives, and team personnel both during and 90 minutes before and after games. It’s also not surprising when the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back Rashard Mendenhall made some controversial comments via Twitter about the death of Osama bin Laden (see post bellow), causing Champion to end his endorsement contract.

These are some of the examples of how (not) to use social networks. Every single athlete has to be aware of the (social media) consequences. It’s better to think twice before posting wrong. “Think before you speak” should be the slogan for everyone before social media activities.

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