NBC is promoting the 2012 London Olympics as the first social games. Funny I thought they said that about games played in China. Regardless, many of the athletes are tweeting about their experiences. That’s really cool. A fan can really feel like they are getting direct access to the stars they admire because, well, they are.
The Olympic athletes need to understand that what they say on Twitter is there for all to see. Their Tweets, like it or not, define who they are or the perceptions of who they are. Their followers and the blood-thirsty media are evaluating their words and forming opinions. This advice is not just for Olympic athletes, it goes for high school and college athletes too. Some coaches, teachers and recruiters monitor social media so a student-athlete has to be a bit guarded with their social media behavior.
Hope Solo, hurt her brand with her criticism of Brandi Chastain. Hope Solo had nothing to gain with her twitter rant and a lot to lose. She could lose sponsorship opportunities or future TV job opportunities. She was upset that Chastain was unfairly critical of a US defender. She thought Brandi should be promoting the game and the US team instead of criticizing them. Chastain is not on the US team anymore. She is not paid to represent the team, she is paid to analyze the game. Ironically, Solo’s off-putting comments do nothing to promote the US team or the game. Her short-sighted comments were suppose to be supportive of her teammate, but ended up putting her teammate in the spotlight.
Here are 15 random Twitter Rules for Student - Athletes. Please add to this list in my comments section.
1) Build your reputation (or your brand) with informative, interesting insightful or funny tweets. Don’t erode your brand with negative, hate mongering, rants. If you do not like what the media, or a fan, or a coach says about you, don’t get into a Twitter war. You will win by ignoring it.
2) Be real on Twitter and show your personality. You will not get a following if you don’t, but you need to be a bit guarded for good reason.
3) Read each Tweet before you hit send. Take pride in yourself and / or the institution or team that you represent. Ask yourself if the tweet represents who you are or want to be when the tweet is viewed by the world (Fans, current coaches, current teachers, parents, future coaches, future colleges, future employers, friends, family, etc) If the answer is no, delete it. By the way, the NCAA and individual schools monitor social media. Don’t risk your scholarship by Tweeting information that might contain clues to a rules infraction.
4) Be careful about what pictures you tweet or put on your profile. Look at the picture closely and ask yourself, "can the picture be misunderstood?" (i.e. Don’t show a picture of you at a party / bar where you are not suppose to be, Don’t hold up a drink that could look like an alcoholic drink, don’t be in pictures with people smoking, gambling or holding guns, etc.)
5) Don’t put others down. You will come across as insecure. Keep your Tweets real, but lean more toward the positive side of life.
6) Don’t consistently complain about your demanding sports and school schedule. If you are a top HS athlete or a collegiate athlete on scholarship, you are in the top 1 to 5% of people. Meaning 95% of people do not want to hear about your demanding schedule 24/7.
7) Engage with your fans from time to time. Followers love the acknowledgement.
8) Don’t Tweet or ReTweet profanity – makes you look small.
9) It is probably not a good idea to Tweet about religion, politics, race or sexual orientation on your twitter account. You can praise your God, thank Him too, but keep your opinions about other religions that you may not know much out of your Twitter feed. Also, know that if you tweet about politics you are likelygoing to put off 50% of your audience which includes fans, current coaches, current teachers, parents, future coaches, future colleges, future employers, friends, family, etc.
10) After a tough lose, don’t blame others. Don’t tell the world that the officiating sucked, or the coaches did not use you properly, or that your teammates did not execute well, or that the other team was cheating, or the field conditions were terrible etc. You’ll look like a whiner.
11) Don’t announce your aliments on Twitter for opposing coaches and teams to read.
12) Don’t tweet about private team conversations. Locker room talk is meant to stay in the locker room.
13) There is a time stamp on your tweets. Tweet at appropriate times. Study at appropriate times. Parents, coaches and teachers just might be may be monitoring your Twitter account. I do.
14) Follow the Twitter guidelines of your team / coach if they have any.
15) All that said, don't be scared to tweet. Have fun with it.
The Main Point
My son is on Twitter now. He retweeted a comment that I thought hurt his brand. I warned him about it and told him to be more careful.