Why is social media being blamed for Aussie athletes’ poor performances at the 2012 Olympics?
Whose fault is it that our athletes are not coping with their social media activities at the London 2012 Olympics? Is it the Australian Olympic Committee? The AIS? Who?
It’s all very well that the AOC and the AIS and any other sports management body blame Twitter and Facebook. But it’s not Twitter and Facebook’s fault. Maybe it’s time to outsource some social media management support.
In tears at only getting a silver medal, swimmer Emily Seebohm said straight after her swim that she had spent too much time on Twitter and Facebook, that she’d stayed up too late on the sites in the lead up to her swim. Later, clearly after she had been spoken to by management, sports psychologists and the like, she changed her tune saying she “didn’t think her obsession with social media had cost her the gold medal”. Almost the same words came from Stephanie Rice in an interview with the ABC. Obviously the athletes are now toeing ‘the company line’.
Why? Because someone has been chided by the AOC or whoever for letting these elite athletes spend too much time on social media sites, doing it themselves rather than helping them. No one is helping to manage their social media activities.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, fans were encouraged to write letters and postcards – fan mail – encouraging our favourite athletes to victory. In the 80s it was telegrams, and in the 90s Telstra promoted ‘Hero-Grams’ in the form of text messages and emails.
But one thing’s for certain, this mail was screened. Managing the volume of correspondence was outsourced. There’s no way Dawn Fraser (for example) was allowed to stay up to the wee small hours of the morning reading and replying to fan mail – let alone unscreened fan mail (because there are always those who take pleasure in denigrating others).
Our athletes should have their social media monitored and screened
Fan clubs for celebrities, whether they be musicians, actors or athletes, have existed for decades. In the 60s The Beatles had a team of people opening fan mail, replying to it, and screening what might be shown to the Fab Four for some personal engagement or interaction with a few chosen fans. In other words, dealing with their fan mail was outsourced.
Our athletes at the Olympics, for that matter at any time, should have their social media monitored and screened, and they should be trained in how to deal with any personal engagement. They shouldn’t be expected to do it all by themselves.
Here at One Small Planet we handle social media management and monitor businesses, brands and a few celebrities with what they say (or is said about them) on platforms like Twitter. What we do not recommend, however, is tweeting pretending to be the celebrity – what’s known as ghost tweeting – and outsourcing your social media management does not mean losing authenticity.
That classic Stephanie Rice moment when she tweeted with some unfortunate and offensive language of enthusiasm at Australia’s rugby win over South Africa would not have gained so much momentum had we, or anyone for that matter, been monitoring her account. The tweet would’ve been taken down in seconds and possibly gone unnoticed, and Stephanie would have been counselled. We’ve all heard of a few silly Twitter and Facebook moments with high-profile domestic sports people, politicians and others, too.
Some say they can’t deal with Twitter and Facebook because it’s just ‘information overload’ when it’s really just ‘filter failure’.
Our athletes’ relationship with the press is managed by a press officer. Their relationship with with every other aspect of their lives is also managed by an intermediary.
Outsourcing the management of their social media will take a lot of pressure off, too.