• 6 times high-profile people lost sponsors because of social media posts

    6 times high-profile people lost sponsors because of social media posts

    Smart sportspeople can get the upper hand with sponsors — but some will always misuse social media and face the consequences.

    The entire country seems to be only just recovering from the news that people who hit a ball around for a living might not be emblems of moral fibre (shocked, shocked!). I am, of course, talking about the ball-tampering scandal that has seen three members of the Australian cricket team suspended, including captain Steve Smith, who has resigned in disgrace. And the response from the brands associated with cricket has been swift.

    This despite the scandal being far from the worst thing Australian sportsmen have ever done — not by a long shot. For some reason this has hit Australia right in the patriotismSmith was dropped by Sanitarium (maker of Weet-Bix), David Warner was dropped by LG; Warner and Cameron Bancroft were both dropped by Asics.

    In addition, Magellan has terminated its deal with Cricket Australia while sponsor Qantas’ Allan Joyce publicly said he was very disappointed about the incident. (Almost a disappointing as Qantas not paying any tax in 2017.)

    But you know what’s quite interesting? This has all happened without social media really getting involved. Usually, for sponsors to drop high-profile athletes, it takes a monumental stuff-up on a social platform or a groundswell of social media pressure on a brand. In this case, it seems brands took it upon themselves to be moral arbiters.

    People have (mostly) learnt how to use social media

    Now, it’s true, this doesn’t happen as much as it used to, at least not with sportspeople. Athletes of previous generations were a lot less savvy and social media was much younger; its power wasn’t quite as understood. (However, there are still some dum-dums, as we’ll see below.)

    These days, it’s just as likely to be a sponsored athlete taking a brand to task.

    More and more we’re seeing athletes taking it upon themselves to call our their sponsors when a brand representative — or CEO — says or does something not in line with the sportsperson’s ethics or beliefs. Both Steph Curry and Misty Copeland were vocal about disagreeing with their sponsor Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank when he publicly supported President Trump.

    This makes sense. After all, companies these days are using an athlete’s own brand for leverage even more than they used to. Sports people and influencers are their own businesses and through social media are potentially more powerful than their sponsors. Indeed, the pressure by Copeland and Curry resulted in Under Armour releasing a statement ‘clarifying’ the CEO’s remarks.

    However, it still bears repeating that all social media is publishing and people will see it — especially if you’re a high-profile person. So here are six times high-profile people lost sponsors — or worse — because of their social media posts.

    Content warning: LOTS of homophobia (though I won’t directly quote any).

    1. Israel Folau

    This one is hot off the press, so no sponsor has made a move just yet — but I’ve got my fingers crossed. Rugby jackass Israel Folau recently made homophobic statements on Instagram and Wallabies sponsor Qantas is now said to be reconsidering its sponsorship of the team. Folau has not made any attempt as an apology. On the contrary, he’s now posting cherry-picked bible verses on social media, digging his heels in to the controversy. Hot tip, mate: you’re a rich and famous sports star, not a persecuted victim. Persecuted actually describes the people you said would burn in hell.

    2. Stephanie Rice

    Speaking of the Wallabies and massive idiots, who could forget Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice’s infamous tweet when the Wallabies won the rugby against South Africa? It was the heady days of 2010, where a famous gold medallist with a huge social media following felt comfortable to tweet the f-word for gay out into the world wide web. Jaguar, her sponsor, promptly dropped her, despite reading from the classic Aussie Sports Apology playbook: ‘I’m sorry if I offended anyone’.

    3. Rashard Mendenhall

    Rashard Mendenhall, running back for American football team the Pittsburgh Steelers, was dropped by sportswear brand Champion after tweets that were interpreted at the time as being sympathetic to Osama Bin Laden. The news story had just broken about Bin Laden’s death and Mendenhall, ambivalent about celebrating, tweeted, “What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…” Throw in another tweet about 9/11 being a conspiracy and Mendenhall was toast.

    4. Andre Grey

    Steph Rice wasn’t the only one being a homophobic pest on Twitter in the early 2010s. In 2012, British footballer Andre Grey took to Twitter to spout violently homophobic nonsense. The tweet was live for, oh, only four years before his team Burnley found out. His punishment? Suspended for four months. Doesn’t quite seem right, does it? Maybe this list should be of people who got off rather lightly considering…

    5. Anthony Weiner, various other politicians

    US Democratic politician Anthony Weiner’s social media scandals are so extensive they have their own Wikipedia page. The most famous was in 2011, when he ‘accidentally’ tweeted a photo of his private parts out to his followers, later claiming he meant to send it privately to a 21-year-old college student. Uh, yeah, that didn’t make it sound any better. The immediate fallout was Weiner resigning from Congress but Weiner (yes, everyone noticed the joke too) just couldn’t help himself. Sexting scandals followed in 2013 and 2016. He currently resides in Federal Medical Center, a prison for people with mental health issues.

    Mark Thornton, a potential candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party (turn around three times and spit), was in some hot water last year. In front of Senator Hanson herself, Thornton was asked at a press conference about a sex shop he owned and very questionable social media posts from its account. His penalty? He actually didn’t get kicked out because, you know, One Nation.

    (Oh but Canadian politician Jad Crnogorac from the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives was kicked out of her party for several social media posts that were racist and made fun of rape.)

    6. Nate Diaz

    In 2013, then-up and coming lightweight UFC fighter Nate Diaz took to Twitter after…look, it doesn’t matter what it was about. He said something homophobic (notice a pattern here?). The UFC suspended him for 90 days and fined him $20,000 for breaking its code of conduct. Has Nate learnt his lesson about running his fingers on Twitter? Eh, not really.

    These days, there’s no reason smart athletes and high-profile people can’t get leverage with their sponsors — but there will always be those who just don’t get it.

    Need help with your social media? Let us know.   

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  • Walking the walk: How (not) to be taken seriously on social media

    Walking the walk: How (not) to be taken seriously on social media

    How are you coming across on social media?

    In my previous career as a magazine editor, I would often come across a strange phenomenon. Contacting athletes for a feature or interview, I was often struck by how many did not match what they put out through their social media channels.

    I’m not talking about Photoshopped images and Instagram filters. This was more about how they would choose to interact with the world. Athletes who preach focus, consistency and dedication barely put in the effort to use proper punctuation in message. Posts that castigated others for being lazy came from people who couldn’t be bothered to fill out a Q&A. Those who spoke of respect and ‘getting it done’ every day took weeks to reply to an email.

    And often those who tried to motivate people with platitudes like ‘if you want something, you just have to hustle’ would lose their motivation when our media outlet would try to engage with these athletes, be it setting up a meeting, asking for some content, an image or anything that might help their brand out — suddenly they weren’t very motivated. So much for hustle.

    Obviously in the fitness industry these kinds of posts mostly refer to fitness. Still, it struck me that these athletes who presumably wanted exposure and potential business would not apply their successful philosophies in one area (fitness) to how they dealt with the rest of the world (media, business, etc.).

    (Indeed, it’s no coincidence that those who manage to apply one discipline to another are often very successful.)

    Helpful hints

    However, it is possible that some people do not realise that this is how they are coming across. In fact, I’m sure most of the people I’m thinking of would be horrified to know. In that spirit, here are a few helpful hints to being taken seriously outside of the social media world (aka the real world):

    • Don’t preach consistency and attention to detail when there are spelling errors all through your social posts.

    • Don’t bang on about hard work when you can’t be bothered getting back to people in a timely manner.

    • Check each post before it goes out and evaluate it for what you’re actually communicating. Is it something that fits with how you genuinely see the world or have you jumped on a bandwagon?

    • Don’t go on about staying humble and having respect in your social posts when you’re rude to people who want to contact you.

    • Understand that when somebody gets in touch, they are a potential client, customer or contact. If you are truly too busy, send a quick reply acknowledging that you received their message and you’ll endeavor to get back to them when you can.

    These obviously don’t only apply for those in the fitness industry. Anyone who uses social media to engage with clients, customers or fans should be aware of how their non-social media behaviour can impact their perception and reputation.

    Takeaway message

    If you’re a social media personality trying to inspire your followers to do ANYTHING — buy your product, become your client, follow your page, whatever it might be — don’t go against what you’re saying in your posts in your dealings with your fans, the media and, by extension, the world in general.

    Sure, we all have personas online. Our social media presence does not equal the sum of our value as a person. That said, if you’ve decided to have a social media presence, what you put out there better be at least somewhat representative of you as a person.

    And who knows? Maybe you’ll even become more successful as a result.

    If you’re an athlete or business that needs help with their social media strategy, get in touch with us at Hook Media.

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  • One simple social media concept many people get wrong

    One simple social media concept many people get wrong — and how to get it right

    These days, many people have a social media business page that is a separate entity from their regular, personal profile. Unfortunately, all too many of them don’t understand the distinction between the two — and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the fitness industry.

    In the current social media landscape, most athletes have to operate as their own brands, even those with sponsorships. Maintaining a professional and effective brand should be job number one for fitness industry personalities.

    However, what you’ll often see is so-and-so professional or semi-professional athlete sharing what might seem like benign memes and pictures (though also potentially inflammatory political rants or just plain bizarre non-sequiturs) that make that athlete’s fans wonder why they follow your page in the first place. Even if they’re entertained briefly, they’re losing the sense of what the athlete represents.

    Think about it this way: imagine a car company doing that. Imagine Honda, in between sharing its new model roll-out, posting that viral video of the sloth trying to cross a busy road. Funny, right? Professional? Not so much. Even if you wouldn’t be offended or upset, you’d probably just be put off by the plain weirdness of it. You might even stop taking the company less seriously. One thing’s for sure: you might think twice before purchasing something from them.

    There have been cases of high profile athletes losing sponsorships because of inappropriate content posted online on their business pages.

    You might think you would know better than to do something stupid like that and risk your employment but you never know a) what will offend your audience and b) what unintended effects your posts might have.

    So, what is the one simple social media concept many people get wrong? Your business page is, now get ready for this…for business.

    As an athlete with a business page, you have to work out how you’re going to present yourself online as a business. Decide early and have rules about what is appropriate content — this isn’t about scolding you for what you shouldn’t do, it’s thinking about what your followers will not only expect but WANT from someone like you.

    If you’re a bodybuilder selling personal training spots or training programs, your social media content should be in the realm of instructional videos and exercise tips. That’s why people follow you, right? That’s where your money will come from. So, why sabotage that with material that is (get ready, I’m about to use a buzzword) off-brand?

    Similarly, if you’re a company that sponsors athletes, give them clear guidelines on what they can and cannot be posting on their business page. If they’re a bit of a hothead or a big mouth, maybe suggest they keep their personal page set to private so it doesn’t impact on your business. In fact, everyone should do this anyway.

    Remember: the internet is written in permanent ink.

    After all, if you really want to post memes and dumb joke, that’s fine. That’s what your personal page is for. Seriously, it’s not that hard to set your privacy settings so only your Friends can see what you post.

    TL; DR? Don’t post dumb stuff to your Facebook business page. Save that for your personal page.

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