Celebrities and personalities who are paid to tweet do not necessarily need to disclose they are being paid, the competition watchdog says.
But they need to be careful about whether their tweet or Facebook post is truthful and whether they have actually road-tested the product or service.
That was the conclusion of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission after examining tweets by celebrity chef Matt Moran and singer Shannon Noll that had promoted South Australia as a tourism destination. They were outed by ABC's Media Watch last month, which had established that each had been paid $750 to tweet about Kangaroo Island but had failed to disclose the fact to their followers.
The NBA held their first Social Media Awards recently, and our medals for most deserving winners are:
FRANCIS: Francis Leach here, joined by Sean Callanan, the Digital Sports Guru here on Grandstand Breakfast, looking at sport in the digital realm each Saturday morning, good day Sean how you going?
SEAN: Good day Frank, good thanks.
FRANCIS: Question is, can I get paid to tweet? Or should I get paid to tweet? And are sports stars being paid?
SEAN: Well, yes, yes and yes and – and it depends. It depends where you are. Because what we saw this week in the UK that Wayne Rooney and NIKE, caught the ire of I guess the people that look after things and said we don’t like the fact that you’re running a Twitter campaign and not telling people that it’s a NIKE, that it’s an advert in effect.
FRANCIS: So basically give us a break down of what Shrek was doing? He was – he was sending out a few tweets while picking up his NIKE gear.
SEAN: So the tweet itself in question was he tweeted “My resolution is to start the year as a champion, finish as a champion #makeitcount and then the link was Go Nike Got Me Make it Count. Now to me, you know, I’m pretty savvy and I understand the space, but that looks like a NIKE ad and if you’re a sports fan, you know, most of us would – who would know Shrek, or Wayne Rooney as you – you know would know he’s a NIKE guy, um, you know now there’s talk that oh should he have put a hash tag ad or a dollar figure on it or some way to declare and disclose that it was an ad, and that’s where they’ve fallen – fallen foul. But you know there’s definitely other ways for brands to get around this kind of stuff, but yeah I think it’s a little bit you know overhanded I think by the authorities in this case. Because you know where does it stop as far as you know what – on athletes in particular, but celebrities are doing it as well and there’s you know publicists, there’s a whole PR industry that sort of make this sort of thing happen, and you know in the radio industry it’s always been a thing for the you know the cash for comment kind of thing. So it’s sort of come into – into the Twittersphere and sort of treating as a new medium, there has been some changes in the – in the US around it, but just recently the ACCC in Australia have said it’s all okay. Where they had, there was a bit of furore when celebrities or at least celebrities I’ll put in inverted commas, Shannon Noll and I think Matt Moran the celebrity chef, they tweeted about Kangaroo Island.
FRANCIS: That’s right. They were saying what a great place for a holiday.
SEAN: Yeah what a great place for a holiday, and they got paid $750 for the tweets.
FRANCIS: I think – I think – I think you know what in terms of the relationship between the person tweeting and the person following, there’s a – there’s an act of betrayal in a sense that if you are being paid to say something and you don’t disclose the reason that you’re saying that Kangaroo Island is a great place is because someone is stuffing a shirtload of money in your back pocket, then it is an act of deception and I think that while it may be shouldn’t be legislated against, those people should be called out for what they’re doing, which is basically trying to – trying to well pull the wool over people’s eyes.
SEAN: Well exactly and – and again where does it – you know where does it stop. You know you see – you know you’ll see athletes or celebrities raving about a restaurant. Did that mean that they didn’t have to pay – did they just do that to not pay their bill, you know so it does end up in that sort of grey space, but you know then who manages it when someone just wants to have an unabashed recommendation, I love this place because of this service or their quality or whatever and it’s just my recommendation. So a lot of people do follow you know specific people for you know their recommendations and their advice on topics and stuff, and athletes are always looked up to.
FRANCIS: What do you advise your athletes? Because you do a lot of work with different sports clubs both here and in the United States.
SEAN: Well the idea is yeah you’ve got to say, you know, the fans have got to know that that’s you know that it is a sponsor or it is – you know it is a plug, and so if you know – if Wayne Rooney had of taken a picture of his boots and said I’m ready for the game, he probably would of got away with – you know would have got away with it, because they’re his tools of the trade, you know it is – it is an endorsement. I think where they, where they do get into – can get into a bit of strife is where they just send them to a – to effectively to a branded campaign type site, without – without any prompting. Now I think, you know, in my case and this Wayne Rooney one, it’s got the hash tag, it’s got the word NIKE in it, you know I don’t think there’s any misconception of that’s where you’re going. I think it’s when they do have a shortened URL, and say oh check this out, this is awesome, and it sends them to somewhere to buy stuff, that’s the kind of stuff where you can get really big backlash. Then again, you know, if you use a hash tag and you know put in, and I even saw Dave Swan who’s you know really dry humour you know and he was talking to Sharon Welling over something, and he goes well if you do want a car you could go down to Freeway Ford or something like that, and he goes hash tag shameless plug, you know.
FRANCIS: You know what you’re getting.
SEAN: Yeah and you know what you’re getting.
FRANCIS: You know what you’re in for.
SEAN: Exactly. So if – if you do it along – along those lines, you know you’re okay. But it is sort of this John Mayer who was really early adopter on – on Twitter – – –
FRANCIS: Singer and guitarist?
SEAN: – – – the singer and guitarist and he was chatting with fans, and then he got caught out when he just pretty much did a tweet, loving this Campbell’s soup or it was something along those lines and it was – it was so off – off his own voice, it was so obviously written by someone in a PR or an advertising department that handed him a tweet and said please do this, and he copped it, left, right and centre, this was really in the early days of Twitter when there wasn’t really means for you know in the States a lot of people put hash ad or hash dollar, so you sort of had the idea. There’s even platforms that say you know this is a sponsored tweet and they put sponsored on it.
FRANCIS: So the real thing here for clubs, sports people and for organisations is to make sure that people know what their watching when they’re watching it, and that trust then is maintained. You can be advertising something, just let people know that that what’s your intention is, what your intent is.
SEAN: Yeah and that is important because like what you are building is trust with your fans, and you know and it only takes – – –
FRANCIS: And that’s what you sell in terms of what you ask them to do when you’re consulting with football clubs and sports organisations that it is building a relationship and relationships are built on trust.
SEAN: Yeah exactly. And you know and it only takes one or two bad tweets for people to go oh no that’s you know I can see what you’re doing now, and it’s you know it’s not – not what I want. And it’s quite, you know with the NIKE thing it’s quite strange, it doesn’t have to be all straight from the player. You know we’ll talk about it a little bit later, the NBA Social Media Awards happened last week and the player that won for the most mentions on Twitter isn’t actually on Twitter.
FRANCIS: There’s an achievement.
SEAN: Yeah so there is an achievement. So Kobe Bryant won the – the Most Mentions on Twitter award, now why did he win that? Yes he is you know one of the great players and he’s electrifying and everything, but NIKE actually had a campaign that unlocked certain parts of the NIKE website and unlocked deals when – when Kobe Bryant went into Black Mumba mode. So when he took over a game he just sort of went into a certain type of mode, and they graded the mentions on Twitter and when enough people were talking about Kobe Bryant it unlocked a certain part of the website. So that’s how you can do a digital campaign, have a guy in front of it, like he’s not on Twitter himself and he didn’t have to promote it, but it was – it was crowd funded, crowd sourced, you know and it’s quite funny- – –
SEAN: – – -that he won most mentions.
FRANCIS: Have we got a podium for this week?
SEAN: Yeah so just looking back at the Social Media Awards for the – for the NBA, there was a couple of medals there, the ones we thought most deserving, I thought Social Breakout Award to Jeremy Lin, we’ve spoken about Lin Sanity and you know amazing performance but then he was using social media before he became big, you know you can find YouTube clips of him doing spoof videos before he was at New York, so great job there. Gerard Dudley from the Phoenix Sons, it was good to see him awarded because he’s effectively he’s one man ESPN, but I really think they could of analysed the smaller markets and given some awards for those mid market teams that are really connected with fans.
FRANCIS: There you go, excellent stuff. Good on Sean, where can we find you on the Twitterverse and elsewhere?
SEAN: SportsGeekHQ or @SeanCallanan or SportsGeekHQ.com.