This week on ABC Grandstand, Sports Geek discussed the need for monitoring social media usage from sports stars.


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There have been a number of instances with athletes from all over the world using Twitter (and Facebook) unwisely. Stephanie Rice found herself in hot water, as did Carlton’s Brock McLean.

You can check out Sean’s #digisportfail Pinterest page for more examples as well as at Complex Sports for their 100 Biggest Twitter Fails in Sports History.

Monitoring Social Media

To help monitor athletes on social media, we are bringing a product into the Australian sports market to train athletes which, in turn, will protect their brand as well as their clubs.

Twitter is public and can be tracked, but what about Facebook?  It is causing big problems in the NCAA and in the pro market in the USA.

Australia’s Nick D’arcy and Kenrick Monk, both in the Australian Olympic team travelling to London, shared gun photos on private Facebook accounts but it still went viral. How long until we read the headline – “Sponsor drops team due to athlete social media”?

Take a look at some of the samples found so far by the new athlete social media monitoring tool UDiligence.

London 2012 – The “Social” Games

We finished off the segment discussing the Olympics, which kick off in about a fortnight. Billed as the “Social” Games, the Official Olympic YouTube Channel doesn’t let people embed their videos, forcing everyone to go to the YouTube page.

As we wrote on Facebook, does that make this an anti-viral video?

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

Want to get these clips in podcast form? Subscribe here or Add to iTunes.

Podcast transcription

FRANCIS: Sean Callanan the Sports Geek joins us on the program. Sean great to have you part of the program once again. Well social media’s massive as we know, Twitter, Facebook, but elite sporting stars are getting a bit too heavily involved aren’t they?

SEAN: Well there’s a bit of that and it’s really around protection of the club and protection of the brands that are associated with the clubs and also protection of the personal brands of athletes, and we’ll definitely see a lot of that in London, the IOC is very, I guess one way for them is heavy handed in protecting its digital assets, so there will be a lot of monitoring of social media and what the athletes can and can’t do. But yeah if you’re coming, it’s going to be harder and harder for – for clubs specifically to sort of track what – what the athletes are doing. So we’ve seen some instances, just even the last couple of weeks in the AFL with the Carlton boys and Twitter, you know being a little bit loose and replying back to fans and swearing and things like that and really teams can’t have that anymore, because eventually a sponsors going to come along and say look we can’t have our – our brands affected and damaged by you know what these players are saying online. So Twitter is one that’s – that’s public, that anyone can track, so all the fans see that kind of thing, but I really think the tip of iceberg is – is Facebook. So all the – you know most players, athletes and a lot of the people in you know all the athletes going to London will have Facebook like everybody else is, you know 800,000 million people on – on Facebook and they’ll use it like you know the listeners would. You know you’re following your friends with – your mates from school, your mates you muck around with, your cousins and family and – and as everyone does you know you’re stalking your mates from high school, which is pretty much how most people are using Facebook and you know and how athletes were. So I don’t – I don’t begrudge them doing that but what they’ve got to realise they might have all the best privacy settings in the world and think that oh it’s okay I can post stuff here and only my mates are going to see it, and that’s where the problem comes in for clubs, they’re not – most clubs aren’t going to be friends with – with the players or the athletes, so they can’t see what they’re posting on – on Facebook, but if they post something inappropriate and we saw that with the Nick Darcy and Kenrick Monk you know look at us we’re in a gun shop photo, that was posted to Facebook. And all it takes is one of their mates or so called mates if they’re gone and share it, to share that outside their – outside their circle. So from a – from a – from an athlete point of view you’re only as – your privacy settings are only as good as all your mates for one, but from a club point of view how do you go about training athletes what’s right and what’s wrong. So you can do all the training in the world but it does come down to eventually you know some of these players are going to slip up or they’re going to use a word that they don’t realise is offensive to a certain segment of your – of your fan base or – or a sponsor or they might say the wrong thing about a sponsor. Or in the IOC’s case you know the list of things that they can and can’t say around – around the IOC and around the Olympics and they can’t share certain pictures from inside the – the Olympic Village and things like that. So there’s now products that track the activity of the athlete and alert – alert the teams that oh this might be something of concern, so it will trigger on specific words, whether they be swear words or anything like that, that might cause problems.

FRANCIS: In a lot of ways Sean it’s all new isn’t it for the Olympic movement because if my memory serves me right, Facebook was in, in 2008 in Beijing, but I think Twitter was in its infancy wasn’t it – - –

SEAN: Yeah Twitter wasn’t around.

FRANCIS: – - – it really has grown since then hasn’t it.

SEAN: Well that’s the thing, London is supposed to be the social games, because you know Facebook and Twitter are so big now and all, you know, a lot of the athletes will be doing it, you know unfortunately for the volunteers, the volunteers aren’t actually allowed to be using social media as part of the IOC, which I think is a big – I think it’s quite disappointing.

FRANCIS: Because of security risk?

SEAN: Oh I don’t think security risk I think it’s just unfortunate for the fans because you could just imagine maybe some of the insights or little snippets that volunteers might be able to get whether it’s you know a photo with a great athlete or something. So I think the controlling nature of the IOC isn’t quite as social as social media really is. So that’s where I think you know I’m sure they’ll do great numbers of a social perspective but a good example is they released the 2012 song yesterday from Mews, and they released it on YouTube, and YouTube naturally gets shared everywhere and people watch it in all different places. Now I went and shared that video on Facebook and the notice came up IOC says it won’t play on this website, you’ve got to go back to YouTube. Which is almost you know it’s an anti-viral video, it’s – it’s not going get to all the places it can because the IOC is trying to be so controlling to only play our videos on our sites and only – only do the things we want you to do. So it does become pretty hard and it will be interesting to see how much monitoring and how heavy handed the IOC are.

FRANCIS: Time’s on the wing, but are they a bit too controlling the IOC?

SEAN: Yeah I think they are.

FRANCIS: You think so?

SEAN: Yeah I think they are because they’re trying – they’re trying to be very protective of their TV rights and there’s a misconception that if you let people share video clips and things like that, because the athletes can’t share any video, whereas all the other big leagues have really dived into social and they’ve shown the more active they are, the more engaged the fans are and the thing is the TV market’s a different market, we – we use social media to alert us, hey there’s a gold medal game with the Hockeyroos, turn over, flick the channel, that’s how the – that’s how the sports fan is now. And if they try to restrict that conversation you might miss that gold medal game. So hopefully – hopefully the fans will end up overruling and providing so much information that it will happen, but yeah I still think the IOC might be a bit too controlling for its own good in this case.

FRANCIS: And I know you love it, but is there too much of it, social media?

SEAN: No I don’t think, I think – I think every fan will take as much as they can and it’s, you know, it’s up to each one. So you know can take in whatever you want. So there might be too much for some people but you don’t have to follow every single account.