The Drum recently published this article by We Are Social's Editorial Director, Rory McClenaghan, providing five pointers for all Premier League football stars on how to manage their social channels. They've been kind enough to let us reproduce it below.
There was a time when footballers earned tuppence ha’penny and all they did was, well, play football. But those days are long gone, Granddad. If you haven’t got your own line of perfumes, cooking sauces, luxury blankets, or condoms, you’ll be laughed out of the dressing room.
But it’s not all huge pay cheques and tasteful product endorsements. Players today must face up to the dreaded fact that they are role models. In the old days that just meant signing a few programmes after the game, but in this social media age, being a role model is a whole new ball game. An unwise post could upset impressionable youngsters, provide ammunition for opposition fans, or worst of all, damage your commercial opportunities.
Players are not just humans, they’re personal brands, but unlike actual brands who employ professionals to manage their social channels, most of these lads are out there on their own. So with the glorious circus that is the Premier League beginning again on Saturday, here are a few pointers for footballers who want to keep their sponsorship deals and avoid making headlines for the wrong reasons.
Know your audience
Outside of the realm of hip-hop, outrageous displays of wealth tend to go down badly when your fans are a lot worse off than you are. Perhaps Joleon Lescott was channeling Rick Ross when he tweeted this pic of a pricey looking motor.
— Joleon Lescott (@JoleonLescott) February 14, 2016
Arriving as it did hours after his side lost 6-0 at home to Liverpool, it didn’t go down that well with Aston Villa fans. Lescott used the classic “it went off in my pocket” excuse, but it was too late. Still, at least he wasn’t pictured using £20 notes for toilet paper like ex-Villa defender Liam Ridgewell. The moral of the story is, we all know you’ve got a few quid lads, no need to brag about it. Brains before banter As a role model, humour can be tricky. If you don’t know when to stand down the banti-aircraft guns you could easily find yourself in Bantanamo Bay. A good rule of thumb is to have a think about any large sections of the population you could offend before posting. Comments which are questionable in the dressing room should definitely not be aired in front of thousands of followers, as Leicester City’s leviathan centre-half Robert Huth found out when he engaged with a charming twitter account called @CockOrNoCock. His ill-advised entry into the gender debate saw him slapped with a £15,000 fine and a two-match ban. Anything you say may be given in evidence Football fans have long memories, so it’s a good idea not to say anything on social that could later be used against you. Slagging off another club is a good one to steer clear of, because who knows, you might just end up playing there one day. That’s just what happened to philosopher-turned-footballer Joey Barton, who questioned the wisdom of moving to Burnley in May 2014.
@GaryMurg We might be crap. We may well be really over rated but at least we don't have to live in Burnley!
— Joseph Barton (@Joey7Barton) May 4, 2014
Fast-forward to August 2015 and he’s packing his bags and moving to Burnley. Well, at least he didn’t tweet that he was a Celtic fan then go on to play for arch-rivals Rangers.
Read it before you post it
Sometimes bad phrasing can undo the best intentions. All poor old Cristiano Ronaldo wanted to do was give away some free pants to promote his new underwear line. The competition began innocently enough: “Upload your best, craziest and funniest fan image showing your love for CR7 and win a trip to meet Cristiano Ronaldo and see him play a match! The first prize covers three lucky people, so bring a grown-up and your best friend,” he posted. Sounds awesome, right? But the mood turned sinister with Cristiano’s chilling tweet to close the competition.
To be fair Cristiano probably doesn’t run his own Twitter account, but hopefully he gave whoever was responsible a dressing down afterwards. PS Yes, Cristiano Ronaldo wasn’t a Premier League footballer when this happened, but he used to be, so it definitely counts, okay?
Learn to laugh at yourself
Wealthy footballers are often accused of having lost touch with reality, so as a player you should see social media as an opportunity to connect with fans and remind everyone that you’re just a normal bloke. Humour’s a great way to do this and if you’re not sure about what you can and can’t laugh about (looking at you here, Robert Huth), just laugh about yourself. If someone stumbles across your tweenage Myspace account and shares a picture of you posing in the shower wearing shades, your mum’s cardigan and a set of rosary beads, just embrace it, like Tottenham’s Dele Alli.
A lots changed in 5 years ??? pic.twitter.com/JLyUDNbxI4
— Dele Alli (@Dele_Alli) January 12, 2016
So there we have it, five pointers for all the Premier League stars who will definitely be reading this. There is sure to be a trophy cabinet full of social media fails in the coming season, but by remembering who pays your wages, not burning too many bridges and not taking yourself too seriously, your social media presence can turn you from a 2D image on a screen into a real-life human.