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By now just about everyone has heard about, and weighed in on, the reported telephone conversation between, allegedly, Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend. While the authenticity of the recording is still being debated, along with the punishment, if any, for the owner, this is not a post about bad owner behavior.
This is about social media.
Because this whole Sterling phone call, if it indeed was him, started with his objection to his girlfriend’s posting on Instagram. Ah yes, Instagram, where you can upload photos to the world. She apparently did so, and he didn’t like it.
Instagram is just the latest in a long line of social media channels that people, businesses, teams and athletes use to stay connected, get out information and ‘skip the middle man’ of media and preach directly to those who have deemed they are interested by ‘liking’ or ‘following’ your page. We follow celebrities on Twitter to get a sense of their lives, we ‘like’ a team on Facebook to get inside information and, often, ticket and event deals.
So yes, most of the time, social media is a good thing. Except when it isn’t.
We could fill this page, and more, of reports of athletes tweeting before they think about some issue, then immediately taking it down.
For example: Earlier this month the Dallas Mavericks were fined $25,000 by the NBA after public address announced Sean Heath sent off a series of three not-so-flattering tweets aimed at the refs who worked a Mavs vs. Warriors game.
For many organizations, especially those who are strapped for cash and personnel (like many sports corporations) it seems logical to bring in a college intern (since anyone under the age of 30 ‘gets’ social media) and entrust him or her to your most direct line of communication to your followers. Often, it works out fine. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Social media is never going to go away, and in fact it’s a marvelous tool for tight-budgeted organizations who want to communicate to their fans and followers directly. But your organization needs to do it responsibly and regularly.
A few tips:
1) Create an editorial schedule of what you will post (when and by who).
2) Decide what channel will communicate what information (you don’t have to use all social media platforms, just those that make sense for your audience).
3) Make regular posts on your social media channels so fans become accustomed to your news feeds.
Yes, social media is, in large part, a great tool for all of us to use. But we must remember to use it wisely, and strategically, to impart information, burnish the brand and share messages directly to fans.