Redskins player shows why employers fear Twitter

September 23, 2009

Dear Mr/Ms Employer: can you guarantee that all your employees will show good sense when they use Twitter or other social media? No? Then you have a substantial PR and reputation risk. Like the Washington Redskins today. They won the game against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, 9-7, but apparently some fans at the end of the game weren’t happy with their performance, so they booed them as they left the field.

That ticked off one of the benchwarmers, a rookie linebacker, who tweeted after the game and told the fans what he thought of them. He didn’t stop there but when they engaged them insulted them several times telling them he made a lot more sitting on the bench that they did and asking what they knew about football with their 9 – 5 job at McDonalds. Youch.

Chris Chase on Yahoo Sports commented: This is why the NFL would love to ban its players from Tweeting. There’s almost nothing good that can come out of sharing your thoughts in 140-character doses, but there are plenty things that can go wrong.

What happens when an employee is dismissed? What are they going to say on Twitter or Facebook? What happens when there is juicy gossip going around the office about the nightlife of a senior exec? What happens when an employee gets into a fight with a key customer? What happens when a banker throws a party at a repossessed mansion in Malibu–and a party-goer tweets about it.

It’s the age of transparency alright for good and for bad. And one thing that is certain is that not all things that go on inside companies or people minds is good, but equally certain is that in this age alot of those things will come out and be exposed for all the world to see. The NFL might try and ban Twitter, but, the genie is out of the bottle and Pandora has escaped from the box. Now it is a matter for organizations to be vigilant and prepared to deal with the consequences.


2 Responses to “Redskins player shows why employers fear Twitter”

  1. Kate Lilja Says:

    Interesting case study.

    You really cannot control what your employees say on their own time – whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, at church, at home, etc. Granted, social media makes it easier to publicize opinions. Knowing this, it is wise to be prepared for potential fallout.

    What you can control is your official agency social media accounts. Our Office of Communications manages our active accounts with trained communications professionals who are comfortable with both public and media communications.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kate Lilja
    Salt Lake Valley Health Department

  2. James Golding Says:

    There was a similar incident a few months ago in England where a football (soccer)player named Darren Bent Tweeted in frustration about the hold-up in his move from Tottenham Hotspur to a rival club. Tottenham were touting him about trying to get the best price for him and he voiced his anger at this and their attempts to encourage an auction for him.

    By vocalising his thoughts he gave a distinct advantage to his potential new club, who used this to drive his price down by a few million pounds. He was immediately repremanded and issued an apology, and all other squad member at the club were banned from using Twitter or Facebook to publicise club matters.

    As this players comments directly affected his value and therefore Tottenham’s bottom line, they stepped in and acted quickly. I realise that this example could be considered unique as very rarely are company staff worth millions of pounds as assets but its an interesting insight nonetheless.

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