Amidst browsing, I stumbled upon a little gem posted by Socialite Life titled, “10 Athletes To Follow On Twitter.” The post from Sunday explains the good, the bad and the ugly, all of which are entertaining. Selections are anywhere from basketball and football superstars to “snarky” skateboarders. This got me thinking…we could all probably learn how not to tweet by examining a few micro-blogging faux pas.
Here I’ve put together three simple rules for athletes on Twitter:
1. Don’t disrespect your followers. Number six on the list is Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, Chad Ochocinco (@ochocinco). The Socialite Life post notes one of his tweets, “In the gym for what I call Upper Body Mondays,most of you are on lunch I assume right?” These are your fans; don’t insult them. Life in the NFL doesn’t last forever; if you’re smart, you will value your fans because they’ll sustain you after the NFL.
2. Grammar counts. Many athletes already deal with a standing stereotype of being stupid. Instead of feeding the fire, prove them wrong. At the risk of sounding like a journalism geek, good grammar is sexy. A tweet from USA Tennis player, Andy Roddick (@andyroddick) reads, “Not to people who say ” direct message me. I have a great business opportunity for you”. Don’t tweet me that. :)” I’m pretty sure the tennis hottie (now, not so much) meant to say, “Note” instead of “Not.” According to the article, Tennessee Titans quarterback, Vince Young (@vinceyoung10) tweeted, “Anyone once to play golf?” Not only that, he corrected himself, tweeting, “Wants my bad.” Anyone wants to play golf? Nice try, but no. Bad grammar makes people look stupid. Even though Twitter is a place for speedy updates, take the time to read it over.
3. Too weird is too much. A little weird is funny. A lot weird makes people question. Athletes are brands (and so is everyone else for that matter). To maintain your brand, you must not feed negative ideas of who you are. When a photo of Olympic gold medalist, Michael Phelps (@PhelpsTheFish) smoking out of a bong infiltrated the media in 2009, he was doubted more than anything as a role model. After such a public incident shaking his brand to its core, rebuilding his image should be a priority for the years following. Instead, the swimmer posts tweets like “I think I saw a ghost last night… Or it was one realistic dream…kinda of cool but weird…” Socialite Life goes so far as to speculate that Phelps was under some kind of influence while tweeting. If you’re already treading deep waters, you can drown your career in questionable tweets; no pun intended.
The moral of the post? Be careful what you tweet. Learn from these guys what not to do whether you’re an athlete or not, famous or not; everyone has a brand to protect.