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Fiona Hinds

Social Media for sports professionals

Fiona Hinds
Joint Head of HK Sport

27 July 2016
Cristiano Ronaldo has over 40 million followers on twitter. Wayne Rooney has over 11 million. Social Media and sports professionals go hand in hand, it’s really easy to use and allows athletes to engage with fans, but tweeting the wrong thing takes two seconds and could haunt you for the rest of your career. We’ve put together a few pointers to help sports professionals tackle social media.

Top 5 tips for tweeting safely

  1. The FA: Ashley Cole received the highest ever fine (£90,000) for tweeting that the FA were a “bunch of t***s”, even though he apologised before the FA brought the charges.
  2. Your club: Rio Ferdinand’s final season should have been memorable for the right reasons. Instead, it will be remembered for the three-match ban he received for describing Ashley Cole as ‘choc-ice’.
  3. The police: A student called Liam Stacey sent a few tweets about Fabrice Muamba back in 2012. He had no previous record and apologised the same day (once he had sobered up). Even so, the tweets were so offensive that he was sent to prison for 56 days.
  4. Your sponsors and the ASA: Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshere got into trouble with the Advertising Standards Agency (a government watchdog) after they sent tweets on behalf of Nike, but made it look as if they were their own words.
  5. Your next club: When you’re looking for a new club, will you be able to add value to your deal by pointing to the number of shirts you could sell? Or would fans just think “Isn’t that the guy that accidentally posted a picture of himself with no clothes on”?

Top 5 resons to think before you tweet

  1. Don’t tweet when you’re angry: Text a friend instead, or write out the tweet but don’t press send until you have taken a little bit of time to calm down and reflect.
  2. Don’t get drawn into petty debates with fans: Fans are always going to tweet you just to get a reaction. Don’t rise to it. Focus on the fans who want to support you and your team.
  3. Ask your agent or your lawyer before you tweet about a product: You could jeopardise your relationship with your sponsors if you are seen to be supporting a rival product or company. Don’t tweet photos of yourself wearing the “wrong” brand.
  4. Ask your club for guidance or hire your own social media manager: The chances are your club has a social media manager. They will be able to give you a list of things not to tweet about, and should be available to tell you whether particular tweets are a bad idea.
  5. Ask yourself “would I ever say this in an interview?”: If it’s too rude for an interview, then why is it OK to tweet it? Anything you put online can be quoted in the papers, just as an interview would be.

Howard Kennedy acts for a significant number of sportsmen and women and we understand the sports industry from both a legal and commercial perspective. We are here to help you with issues that affect your business and personal life.

Get in touch with Fiona Hinds for more information on how to reduce the risk of social media turning ugly for sports professionals.

Let’s have a conversation about taking your professional sporting career to the next level