Social media already a topic before athletes move to the next level
Three years ago I wrote one of many pieces (there were a few before that) about athletes’ social media posts that can come back to bite them.
That week my list of do’s and don’ts were prompted by an NFL Draft social media debacle for one prospect. I’m re-upping those points after The Washington Post ran a story about how sports agents dig into players’ social media histories before they sign. Reaction to that story: they’re just doing that now? To be fair, several have been for years.
I wrote the 2016 post after now-Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil saw his stock fall when a pre-NFL Draft photo of him smoking out of a gas mask bong appeared online in the event’s early minutes and became the talk of what should have been a night about fulfilled dreams and goals for the future. You’d think that episode would have been lesson enough for those who came after him. But it happened again last year when Wyoming quarterback’s racist tweets surfaced. This year’s social media nugget dropped into NFL headlines early when Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa told a reporter that he deleted politically-charged tweets. (Note to Bosa — someone has them, I promise.)
Whether you aspire to be a professional athlete or a car salesperson, scrubbing alone may not matter, but sure, it can help. Screen shots are easy to save and they become ripe for misuse for someone set on damaging another person’s reputation.
That said, here are the do’s and don’ts I mentioned. Good luck to all of the football players that will hear their names announced during the this year’s NFL Draft in Nashville. I hope you’ve trained for this weekend on and off the field.
- Beginning in at least middle school, request that educators and coaches teach athletes about responsible social media. Raise the level of those lessons with new instructors each year. Parents, learn to use social media and share responsible habits with your kids.
- Create a social media account and secure an unsuspecting password.
- If you anticipate a high-profile life move, change your password. Shoot, when the calendar changes each quarter, change your password!
- Always consider who will see a post. If you’re an athlete, that means [potentially] the world.
- Before you post, ask yourself how viewers will benefit from reading or seeing a post. Will they be educated, informed or entertained (in a way your grandmother would approve)?
- Review the post before you hit “send.” Review it again. Does it incriminate you? Does it hurt others? Review it again. Ok, one more time. If you’re confident it’s good, hit “send.” (If you’re not sure, consult with a trusted advisor or sports PR and social media specialist … we want to help.) Use your DELETE key liberally.
- If you are caught with a post such as Tunsil’s, whether you send it yourself or not, own it, explain it and move on.
- Share your password with ANYONE. The only exception is your agent or publicist (not their assistants or interns, just them).
- Do anything that may be perceived improper or illegal. Cameras are EVERYWHERE.
- Get into social media spats with fans. Most that initiate them are just in it for a few seconds of “fame,” so don’t waste your time and aggravation.
- Post something and think you can later delete it. Anything posted on the internet is there FOREVER if someone truly wants to find it.
©Gail Sideman; gpublicity.com, 2019