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The problem with Twitter for brands that suck

August 4, 2011

Last week, a footballer for Newcastle United in the UK took to his Twitter feed to complain about the team.

The club gave him a fine, and then forced him to train alone. Then they said they didn’t want him anymore. He’s one of their best players.

Joey Barton heading a ball during a match

Image via Wikipedia

Then came this wonderful quote, in the middle of an article about the whole thing. The article is about how the team really don’t want to lose their best player. This is a quote from the manager of Newcastle:

“Maybe if it wasn’t for Twitter and this instant media it may have got resolved on Monday morning with me and Joey in my office,” he added. “The problem with Twitter – we need to get a hold of this. We have got nothing from the Premier League on how to deal with this.”

I tell you all this not because it has anything to do with the EPL. This has everything to do with brands used to having control bemoaning the fact that it is disappearing.

Two things to note:

1. “The problem with Twitter – we need to get a hold of this.” His sentence trailed off before he got the thought out, but lets pretend we know where he was going: the problem with Twitter is that star athletes have massive platforms. And even though the Premier League (and other sports leagues) offer media training, they don’t appear to be offering social media training. Plus, in the days before social media, if an athlete was passionately upset at a result, the staff of the team would keep him away from the press. With Twitter, there is no keeping passionate people away. Ergo, Joey Barton (or whatever star in whatever league) spouts out posts that make the team (brand) look bad.

2. He’s blaming the tool, not the source of the frustration. Barton expressed frustration with the team’s direction. Alan Pardew, the manager, blames Twitter.

It is relatively easy to blame the tool when people talk negatively about a brand. What is hard is looking at what was said and trying to fix the complaint. Stopping people from using Twitter doesn’t stop them feeling that the club is going in the wrong direction. Social media doesn’t cause people to say bad things. Bad things cause it.

Social media just enables it. People should think about having a policy, but also doing training on the policy. It’s one thing to say: please don’t say bad stuff about us on Twitter. It’s another thing to train people on the cost of saying the bad stuff.

All that said, Arsenal open the season in 10 days at Newcastle, so all this is good.

What do you think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 4, 2011 11:53 am

    You hit the target straight on. Brands should take greater care of why people complain. Resolve the hard part, and the Twitter tantrums won’t even happen.

    Great post!

  2. August 7, 2011 2:10 pm

    Thanks for commenting Rick!

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