By Kelda Wallis
The Premier League has taken a timely step by publishing a new set of social media guidelines for players ahead of the upcoming football season. High profile figures like footballers are followed by thousands, in some cases millions, of people on social networks making their lives more public than ever before.
It is great that players can have a direct link with fans: from Wayne Rooney showcasing the first-look of his £30,000 hair transplant on Twitter to Joey Barton’s constant posting of Morrissey lyrics, social media provides us with a unique insight into lifestyles of the rich and famous.
This can be a great thing, but all too often it can take a turn for the worst. In a fit of rage, Darren Bent angrily used social media to tell his then Tottenham bosses which clubs he would and would not like to be transferred to, while Arsenal’s Emmanuel Frimpong was recently in hot water after tweeting a racist term in response to fan abuse.
Unchartered ground is being covered and it is clear these players needed a set of concrete rules and guidelines to steer them clear of trouble. Similarly, employees across all kinds of working environments need a clear outline of where the line is, so they will be much less likely to cross it.
Given the increasingly integral role the likes of Twitter and Facebook play in 21st Century life, we’re amazed at the number of organisations that haven’t yet created any level of internal social media guidelines for their employees. One step out of line can be shared with a global audience within a matter of minutes: potential damage that is easy to inflict but potentially difficult to undo.
This is serious stuff, and recently there have been a number of high profile cases online where people have fallen foul of the law or damaged their employer’s reputation. We think all organisations – from sporting bodies to financial institutions, schools to charities should provide guidance to employees on how to conduct themselves online.
Organisations have a responsibility to educate and support individuals on the acceptable boundaries when discussing their professional lives in, what are effectively, public spaces. However, we believe it is wrong to simply ban social media from the workplace; even if employees are prohibited from posting 9-5, there is nothing to stop them posting potentially damaging content out of hours.
People need to be told the effect a certain type of post could have when seen by colleagues, competitors and business partners. This is particularly pertinent when internal guidelines are aligned with contracts of employment.
It’s great to see an organisation such as The Premier League taking positive action as social media can be a massive force for good when used in the correct manner. We are delighted to see that, rather than putting up barriers and washing its hands of the matter, the organisation is helping players get the most out of social media as well as understanding its pitfalls.
About the author
Kelda Wallis is a business manager at Tempero. Tempero provides social media strategy and management for some of the world’s largest brands and organisations. Its core services of strategy, insight, moderation and engagement come together to form the complete suite of elements required to run effective and efficient social media activity 24/7 in over 15 languages. Tempero’s highly trained team of 170 social media professionals not only protect the reputation of household names, but also provide customer engagement and detailed insight into social media behaviour. Tempero was founded by Dominic Sparkes and Jasmine McGarr in 1999. The client list includes brands such as Activision, Sony, Orange, NSPCC and many more.