Where will this end?! I’m of course talking about the fine implemented by The FA on Federico Macheda, the Italian youngster on loan at QPR from Manchester United.
He has been fined £15,000 and warned about his future conduct after using abusive language on Twitter after being left out of the match day team recently. He said; “Totally p***** off…this is not what i deserve. F..k all!!!!”
You can understand his frustration as he went to the club to gain first team experience that would help his new club with some goals and his own game to ensure he goes back to his parent club with a chance of making the first team. This has not been the case and so he took to Twitter to vent his frustration in the one public place he had access to.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you will know that this is certainly not the first time its happened and most definitely wont be the last. For the last 3 years there have been regular instances of this happening.
So what, if anything, could be done about this to help?
For the bigger profile players, those who are obviously earning a good wage there could be some options worth exploring. This is also a point in which someone with social media experience can help them.
In the US, I recently read about the use of Amy Jo Martin’s company Digital Royalty vetting the twitter updates of Joel Stein, the top man at the TIME Magazine. Something they also do for Shaq O’Neill, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Dana White from UFC. What this does is enable some sense checking of what should go up and when, something that the king of advertising David Ogilvy said is one of the keys to writing when he said;
“Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.”
(taken from an internal memo by Ogilvy to his staff with 10 hints to learn to write well)
So if the sense checking is done by yourself or someone else, it doesnt matter as long as it happens. With so much at stake for people at this ‘celebrity’ level, the merest slip up can be front page news.
This does not mean being draconian or the scrooge who wont let someone have any kind of personality on social media sites. It means finding a happy medium that can really make a difference.
So how would it work?
How about something simple: the player hires a person or company to help him/her with their online sites (much as they would do with their website). Then once they want to make an update they text/email/BB the message they want to add to this person, who then adds it to the relevant platform.
We still want some real time interaction of course and if these are set for certain times, as some athletes do already, where they answer questions directly. There are still many opportunities for interaction and it not to come over as cold, bland or distant.
What this does do is make them think twice about what they are going to post and also enables them to sense check it past another person. They may then come back and say ‘are you sure you want to say that?’
With so many platforms out there that could be jumped on (is pinterest going to be next?) there is going to be a time when they just cant look after all of them them by themselves. Certainly not if your Rio Ferdinand, Lewis Hamilton, Wayne Rooney, RvP or the like.
We still want them to voice their opinions of course and not have all of them turn into the next Michael Owen of Twitter (boring!). We want to find out more about their personality, what else they do aside from sport, interact with them and get the latest news.
This isn’t new thinking, we have been doing for brands for quite a long time now. Where it is appropriate there should be no reason why the same couldn’t happen more to the top sports stars (and other celebs). Of course we should still push for sensible, awareness training of young (and older) athletes to give them the confidence and insights to go onto these platforms with their eyes wide open.