May 6th, 2016
Brands, celebrities, professional athletes as well as large and small companies, non-profits, government agencies, politicians, and people like you and me use social media every day to connect, engage, inform and entertain.
Today, social media is more mainstream than mainstream media itself. It is in everyone’s pocket and capable of traversing the globe in nanoseconds. While many may question the ROI of social media, the past few weeks have reminded us of the influence and impact Twitter has in particular, and the implications one simple tweet can have on a career or a brand.
Whether you are a fan of mixed martial arts or not, it is very likely you have heard of Conor McGregor. The brash MMA fighter from Ireland has taken the UFC by storm and is quickly becoming MMA’s version of Floyd Mayweather, commanding multi-million dollar paydays for his most recent fights.
On April 19, Conor, only 27 and considered in the prime of his sport, took to Twitter and announced his retirement. As of today the shocking announcement has been retweeted 165,000-plus times and shared more than 147,000 times. It also garnered global publicity on every major sports outlet as well as mainstream media. The ripple effect created a PR nightmare for the UFC as Conor was scheduled to be part of the main event for the promotion’s milestone 200th event.
Six days later, Conor un-retired and informed the world he was back on the UFC 200 fight card, and the MMA world went into a tailspin yet again. The only problem with this proclamation was that it was not true. In between the time Conor “retired” and changed his mind, the UFC already cancelled the fight and was in damage-control mode to restore order following the rogue tweets by its superstar fighter.
As a result of this social firestorm, the tweet produced worldwide exposure and cost Conor reportedly $10 million in earnings.
Last Thursday the NFL hosted its annual draft. Among the talented college recruits, Laremy Tunsil was considered by many one of the top picks, but a tweet that emerged during the draft dropped his stock significantly. The tweet in question showed Tunsil smoking from a gas mask bong. Although the account was hacked, it still did not erase the perception of Tunsil’s questionable behavior.
Compared to the contracts of the top four in this year’s draft, Tunsil, the 13th pick in the draft, lost at least $12 million in earnings potential, according to Spotrac.
Tunsil’s situation is another reminder of how social media can influence business decisions and impact the perception of your persona or brand.
College football in Texas is bigger than the state itself. But a university this week will one day learn if the social media actions of an assistant coach will change how it is perceived by high school athletes, impacting its ability to recruit players for its program.
Texas A&M assistant coach Aaron Moorehead jumped on Twitter to convey his displeasure of a highly touted recruit breaking his verbal commitment to the team. Although Moorehead never mentioned the athlete by name, his tweets about loyalty and accountability caused a social backlash with many high school athletes weighing in on his poor behavior. And a second recruit has decided to reverse his decision to join the Aggies.
Moorehead has since apologized, but the proverbial damage is done. Social media has impacted Texas A&M’s recruiting mojo this year and perhaps in years to come. That said, it will be interesting to see if Moorehead will be able to keep his job among this PR maelstrom.
These recent scenarios underscore the power of social media and how it can impact the bottom-line whether its sports or any other industry. Personal and professional brands must use discretion before they hit the “tweet” button, or be prepared to suffer the consequences.