As more and more athletes and their agents begin to accept social media devices, professional leagues are also gaining a strong presence on the social networking sites. However, whereas the athletes are publicly posting information that is widely disseminated to a large audience of followers, the various leagues have decided to create much different identities on the popular sites. Leagues are employing personal to create covert, and often fake, identities in order to keep track of its active players and future players. Teams are also using such techniques to filter the talented players with little “social baggage” from those who like to post pictures holding guns, displaying bad drinking habits, etc.
And teams are doing it in a very creative and effective way…
But they’re doing it in a rather interesting and some might argue unethical way. NFL personnel are setting up Facebook profiles that look to be that of an attractive woman. From there, they send friend requests and messages to the players they are evaluating.
If the unsuspecting future NFL star accepts it, suddenly, the teams evaluating them have access to their personal information and photos, which, could raise all sorts of questions about the athlete if they have anything unflattering in their profile.
I have said it many times…new social networking technologies greatly empower the star athlete with an existing large following. It also helps the largely undiscovered talent find additional fans and supporters by exposing a charming or interesting personality. However, these sites can end up killing an athlete’s career if not used correctly.
It is very important for athletes and their agents to hire consultants to teach athletes the best practices for using these social media devices, have those consultants set the athletes up with accounts on the various services that are appropriate for the client (not every athlete should be on Twitter or have a Yardbarker Blog), and make those consultants follow the athlete’s social media habits (including the posting of information, pictures, video, etc).
I have done some consulting work in the past. Another big name in the industry concerning this type of work is Kathleen Hessert, who has really made a name for herself for teaching Shaq how to Tweet on Twitter. Through her company, Sports Media Challenge, Hessert has been able to help many other high-profile athletes become social media pros in a short period of time. It really is not a long process and is well worth whatever the price may be for consulting. The amount of damage one person can do to his/her image and endorsement profile is 100 times the cost of hiring a consultant. Additionally, having a strong social media presence can greatly increase the value of one’s image and endorsement profile, paying for the consultation multiple times over based on additional profits. Now that leagues and teams are tracking athletes on these sites, it is even more important to make sure that your clients have the proper training to manage the potential risks associated with having a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.
I own a sports agency, but that does not mean that I am unavailable for consultation on these issues. If interested, you know the email address! 🙂