4 Social Media Gaffes From Athletes and How to Fix Them

Since this is my last blog post, I thought I would keep things light. Who doesn’t like feeling better about themselves by seeing the hiccups of others every now and again? That feeling seems to be enhanced tenfold when the hiccups come from our favourite celebrities.

So, below I’ve listed four of my favourite athlete-related lighthearted social media screw ups and, since making light of others’ situations doesn’t exactly qualify as a learning experience, how they could have been remedied.

Marketing Gone Wrong

We’ve learned throughout the course about the importance of social media as it relates to marketing (whether it’s personal branding, enticing people to buy a product or service, etc.). Here we have a couple of examples of how not to do marketing and sponsorship in the social media age.

The gaffe: NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz posts an unedited template of a tweet about how happy he is to be going to (enter city here). Let’s hope this was the work of Fultz’s social media team because this was a pretty embarrassing and easily avoidable situation that there really isn’t any excuse for.

Markelle Fultz Instagram post

NBA draft pick Markelle Fultz’s draft-day Instagram gaffe

The solution: One word – proofread. In the post, rather than specifying which city Fultz would be playing in and for which team he would be playing, the caption included (city name) and (team name) instead, showing the importance of double- and triple-checking content before it goes out.

In fairness, the rush to get the Instagram post out was probably motivated by the sponsor, Tissot, wanting it to get out ASAP. The post got a lot of buzz so it probably all worked out, but putting out an incomplete post isn’t the best route to take.

The gaffe: NFL player Desean Jackson provides a peek behind the curtain of how promotional tweets in sports actually work. In advance of the ESPYS award show, Jackson tweeted what appeared to be a request from a sponsor, NOKIA, to tweet about how much he was enjoying himself at a NOKIA-sponsored pre-party.

Desean Jackson tweet

A “mistake” tweet by Desean Jackson that received a lot of buzz.

The solution: Again, pretty simple – proofread. Whether or not it was Jackson himself who tweeted it (my gut says a member of his team is to blame), it’s a very avoidable mistake. Still, the humour of the tweet apparently worked in Jackson’s favour as it generated a lot of buzz.

So perhaps I’m wrong and posting content not yet ready for public viewing is actually the way to go if you want to get a lot of attention.

Personal vs Private

The more common mistake made by celebrities and average joes alike is letting your personal life bleed onto your social accounts. In the below two examples, the results were hilarious (well, maybe not for the guys who made the posts.

The gaffe: Lance Armstrong puts his cell number on Twitter. This was likely a result of some confusion between thinking he was sending a private message but instead posting a tweet for public viewing, but it doesn’t make it any less funny.

The solution: Maybe don’t just give your phone number away willy-nilly on social media (or, if you do, don’t do it on your public account that has millions of followers). Even through direct/private messaging, though, there’s always the chance of getting burned by one of the biggest risks of social media – that anything can be leaked.

Maybe next time Armstrong can use the resources at his disposal (agents, PR reps, etc.) to get contact info privately.

Lance Armstrong tweet

Lace Armstrong slips up and posts his cell number to Twitter

The gaffe: Draymond Green posts a dick pic. Not really any other way to say it than that – one of the perils of living in the Snapchat age. Given the often…promiscuous use of Snapchat, it’s not surprising that this would happen, it’s surprising it hasn’t happened more often.

The solution: It sounds pretty simple but apparently it bears repeating that if you’re a celebrity, you should probably avoid taking pictures of your genitalia when you’re using any kind of social media. Whether or not celebrities choose to send those types of images is entirely their prerogative, but maybe save it for texting.

Or, the much simpler solution: don’t take dick pics.

Do you have any favourite social media gaffes to share? I’d love to hear them!

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Promo for Twitter: Rember when Lance Armstrong gave his cell # to all of Twitter? He’s not the only athlete to trip up on social media http://wp.me/p3QRy0-gPshttp://wp.me/p3QRy0-gPs

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How Are Sports Fans Using Social Media?

To this point in my mini blog series, I’ve focused my attention on how professionals (be they leagues, teams, or athletes) can use social media to their advantage in the sports world. This time around, however, I’m going to focus on the people who make professional sports so profitable: the fans.

Social media is a hub for a wide array of topics, but – at least in my biased opinion – one seems to dominate the social media world: sports. Whether it’s pre-game, post-game, in-game, or (to a lesser extent) on off days, the kind of buzz generated by the sports world on social media is unmatched (“social media channels see spikes in user activity for sporting events” as one site put it).

How Do Fans Engage?

There’s a certain sentimentality about the sports world on social media – I know that when I scroll through Twitter during big events it seems like everyone else is watching the same thing I am – but that doesn’t do much to give real, quantifiable numbers in terms of engagement.

Fortunately, some companies have taken a deep dive into sports fans’ use of various social media platforms to discover what trends, if any, exist. One of the most interesting findings from a 2013 survey is that, in general, more fans use Facebook compared to Twitter, but on game days fans are 1.5 times more likely to use the latter (this sums up my activity pretty much to a tee).

Some trends to look out for: according to that same survey, Google+ and YouTube showed impressive growth in popularity among fans. Given sports’ reliance on visuals, I can see why YouTube would see a spike, but I’m really surprised Google+ showed so much growth (then again, maybe I’m underestimating its potential).

Interestingly, only 37 percent of the respondents said they use Twitter to follow and discuss sports, which ranked third behind Facebook and YouTube (but, once again, Twitter was tops in game-day usage). Instagram was the least used tool in general, yet fans flocked there post-game (maybe I’m unfamiliar with Instagram’s functionality, but this puzzles me).

What are they saying?

Okay, so we have a good idea of what percentage of fans are likely to use the various social media tools available to them – but that’s only half the battle. The next question is how do fans use these tools to interact?

The New York Giants football team “reported that more than 90 percent of fans don’t attend the team’s games.” That’s a pretty staggering number, but it also begs the question: If they’re not attending games, what are these fans doing?

Chances are, they’re injecting their commentary on the games and the team’s activity, or engaging in discussions with other fans or the team itself. Another possibility, as pointed out in the TechNewsWorld article, is fans are using alternate accounts, such as fan pages on Facebook or “super accounts” on Twitter, to engage.

As the aforementioned survey found, fans also used social media as a way of supporting their favourite teams with their wallets. It showed that 7/10 fans surveyed would be “willing to take action after following or ‘liking’ a brand” and that 61 percent of fans liked or followed a brand because it offered a coupon or discount.

The Role of the Team

Even though this post is mainly dedicated to the fans, to get the full picture of their involvement you have to take into account the role each team/organization plays in all this. Conveniently, given the focus of social media monitoring this week, much of the work teams should do revolves around monitoring.

Knowing when fans are most engaged and specifically targeting their engagement around those times (i.e. rewarding loyalty) is one way to get the most out of the team-fan relationship. As we’ve learned, it’s also important to know the audience – despite what you might think, “Millennials did not make up the heaviest social media user group in 2016.”

I know that figure surprised me, and it wouldn’t shock me to hear that the majority of teams target their social media strategies to Millennials. But it provides a great lesson for any organization on social media: you can’t make assumptions about your audience, you have to know for sure who they are.

How do you get involved in the conversation about your favourite team(s)? Do you see any differences in interaction between social media tools?

Promotional Facebook post: “Teams can communicate with fans, fans can communicate with teams—the sports world is changing.” http://wp.me/p3QRy0-gFn

Promotional Twitter post: More people use Facebook than Twitter to talk about sports. Surprised? You can read about that and more here: http://wp.me/p3QRy0-gFn

The Impact, and Risks, of Twitter on Branding in the Sports World

“How short would Player X’s career have been if Twitter was around during his playing days?”

It’s a question that athletes wouldn’t have even had to consider a decade ago but is now an inescapable part of being an athlete in 2017. Given the immediacy and virality of social media, fans and teams are expected – as they should be – to be on their best behaviour at all times.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Similar to my post last week in which I pointed out how social media is changing the world of sports viewing, Twitter, in particular, is changing how athletes and teams market themselves in the digital age.

Building A Brand

Although athletes have the benefit of possessing a personalized, human element to their Twitter accounts, I would argue it’s the team who have made better use of the social media tool. It’s true that most teams have a pretty boring approach to Twitter – although, thankfully, most social media departments are realizing the need to step up their online games – but some teams have been early pioneers.

The Los Angeles Kings have perhaps the most well-known reputation, at least in the National Hockey League if not the sports world at large, with close to 1.1 million followers on Twitter. They’ve made trolling a regular occurrence and even inspired a best-of list of some of their most memorable and hilarious tweets.

Their social media presence was so successful and notorious it even earned the man behind the keyboard a feature article (how many social media operators can say that?).

(But watch out, LA. The Dallas Stars are coming in hot with some great content of their own.)

Peek Behind the Curtain

As fans, our exposure to our favourite athletes used to be what reporters wrote in the following day’s paper. But with 24/7 access to social media, fans can not only get a glimpse into the lives of those same athletes but also get a better sense of their personalities.

Once again, one of the most notorious athletes for this comes from the hockey world (admittedly, his reputation was one of the reasons I joined Twitter in the first place). Paul Bissonnette isn’t a household name for his play on the ice, but his online popularity is another story, amassing 1.03 million Twitter followers.

As with the Kings’ account, Bissonnette also inspired an uncommon but awesome best-of list of his own. The funniest part about his fame, in my opinion, is that he achieved such notoriety from fans for his what-goes-around-comes-around approach to mocking and at times humiliating fans.

The Risks

As I noted in my last article, risks are simply a fact of life on social media – but that doesn’t mean the risk can’t be reduced. One of the most common risks is pushing the envelope a little too far, which can burn you as some users have learned the hard way.

The operator of the Houston Rockets’ Twitter account learned the hard way that there are limits after he was fired in 2015 for posting a controversial tweet as his team neared a playoff victory. NFL player Antonio Brown was fined for breaking league policy by posting a live video to Facebook just minutes after a game.

And even Bissonnette was forced to step away from Twitter in order to resurrect his career, due to the negative attention his unique brand of online activity attracted.

Most of the accounts listed above are those that I’m familiar with (and enjoy), but I want to know: Who are some of your favourite team or athlete social media accounts that you follow?

Twitter promotional post: Are you following the @LAKings or @BizNasty2point0 yet? If not, you should probably get on that – you’re missing out http://wp.me/p3QRy0-gyS

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How Live-streaming Will Change Your Sports Viewing Experience

Social media and sports are inextricably linked. Twitter, in particular, has become the go-to spot for fans looking to get information and share their opinions, and for teams looking to disseminate that info to their fans and the media.

Until now, though, the applications of social media in the sports world have been very basic. Many teams, regardless of the sport, follow a similar strategy: post general news and info across different platforms and live-tweet games, with very little deviation from the script.

But the social media landscape has changed drastically even just in the last few years – and the sports world, ever full of innovators – has had to adjust. One of those new-wave elements of social media that has slowly crept into the mainstream is the advent of live streaming.

A new way to watch

Live sports is just about the only kind of television programming that has been immune to the declining viewership that has reached almost every other corner of the TV industry. And yet, the sports world hasn’t gotten complacent, opting instead to branch out into social media to reach a market that has been largely untapped.

The National Football League (NFL) was the first of the major North American sports leagues to enter the live streaming business. It signed a deal with Twitter to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games in 2016 (for free, which I found surprising considering the NFL’s hammer-fist reputation), and received mixed results.

The first game attracted more than two million viewers to the platform (the rest hit between 2.6 million and 3.1 million viewers), but not all the news was positive. As noted in the previous TechCrunch article, many viewers were unhappy with the curated tweet list that appeared on their screen (but all things considered, that’s a small problem for the folks at Twitter to have to deal with).

One of the more interesting stats to emerge out of the NFL’s streaming deal, in my opinion, is the millennial factor: 70 percent of the audience for games was under the age of 35. That millennials are such a highly coveted demographic to reach and Twitter was able to achieve such great success reaching that market speaks to the kind of potential this type of programing has for advertisers.

In poking around the web for this blog I was surprised to see how many other leagues have agreements to live-stream games. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, and Showtime Sports (boxing) all have streaming deals with Facebook.

Already entrenched in the live-streaming business because of its deal with the NFL, Twitter also signed a deal with the PGA tour to broadcast multiple events for the 2016-17 season.

New frontiers

While broadcasting games has been the most commonly utilized application of live-streaming on social media, it’s not the only application. Non-game content – television shows, exclusive Q&As, behind-the-scenes-content, etc. – has found a home on social media as well.

Twitter was once again at the forefront of this movement, signing separate deals with the NFL and National Basketball Association to broadcast non-game content. As part of each deal, the respective league would produce a digital show that Twitter would have the exclusive right to stream.

The NFL deal, in particular, is interesting because it also includes a partnership with Twitter-owned Periscope to provide other exclusive coverage, such as video of pre-game warmups. I’m interested to see if, as it was with game broadcasts, other leagues follow in the NFL’s footsteps in offering more than just TV-based non-game content.

Question and answer sessions are also commonplace on live-streams now, both from the leagues themselves and from sports networks. For leagues, it’s a strategic move to give face-time to high-ranking officials, such as with MLS commissioner Don Garber; and for sports networks, they can promote their personalities or conduct exclusive interviews (as TSN did with members of the New Orleans Saints).

The dark side

Of course, as with anything on the internet, there’s also a negative side to this exciting new function of social media. At its core, live streaming is unfiltered, which can cause some serious issues in terms of monitoring what is broadcast.

As it relates to the sports world, unfiltered streaming means users at a sporting event can turn on their phone and broadcast everything in front of them to all of their followers (and even the public at large). Though there aren’t many documented cases, there are a couple of notable examples of live-streaming in a negative fashion.

During the lucrative Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout in 2015, multiple users in the arena used Periscope or Meerkat to broadcast the fight to fans worldwide. The fight still made close to $400 million, but I wouldn’t find it any less concerning that fans were able to get a free feed of the fight.

In another case, one English soccer fan had just under 150,00 views on his live stream of a Premiere League soccer match. As with the Mayweather-Pacquiao bout, nothing came of this stream, but once again it makes me question how staff at the multiple sporting venues worldwide plan on addressing the issue of fans exploiting this technology.

So now I want to hear from you. Have you ever watched a live sporting event from a social media stream? Would ever consider it? Let me know in the comments!

Promotional posts

Twitter: Did you know you could have watched live @NFL games on Twitter last season? Welcome to watching sports in the digital age #smsports *bit.ly link*

Facebook: “Live streaming of sporting events…promises to become ‘undeniably mainstream.’” Do you agree?

*link*