Jun 29, 2011 / by Cision Contributor

twitter brand rep

In terms of branding, Twitter is a great way to develop your brand and interact with customers. Negative reactions from social media can cost brands dearly. If a brand is thought of to be controversial, then people are less likely to become asscociated with that brand. In the case of professional athletes, they are the brand. How can examining the way athletes use Twitter help you develop your brand positively on Twitter?

Twitter is rapidly becoming a great way for players to interact with fans just as it is becoming a great way for companies to interact with customers. Fans constantly want to be informed on what an athlete is doing and Twitter allows athletes to instantaneously keep their fans updated. The same goes for brands. Most athletes have Twitter accounts and have hundreds of thousands of followers—but these twitter accounts can boost or degrade their reputation. Many athletes use their Twitter accounts to give themselves more exposure for endorsements, but they are sometimes forgetful of just how many people pay attention to social media. One negative but also positive aspect of Twitter is that so many people use it and constantly monitor it—it can be a double-edged sword. It’s great because it allows athletes to form a connection with their fans, but it gives them little room for error because of the endless scrutiny. Let’s look at a positive and negative example of Twitter usage by professional athletes.

The Example: Rashard Mendenhall, a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who has over 49,000 followers on his Twitter page recently found himself in the middle of a Twitter controversy for tweeting about the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Here is one of his tweets:

Mendenhall Tweet

This, along with subsequent tweets generated a largely negative response from fans and the media. It received endless coverage on sports talk shows such as Sportscenter and Around the Horn, which air on the sports network, ESPN. Not only does this affect fans’ opinions of him, but sponsors’ opinions of him as well. This ended up costing him money in endorsements because companies didn’t want to be represented by him. This controversy isn’t going away anytime soon and it’s too bad because it detracts from his performance and legacy on the field.

The Lesson: People care about the content that is posted on Twitter. They constantly analyze what content people are posting. Be careful when Tweeting about controversial subjects or you could very well find yourself in the middle of a controversy. That controversy may not have anything to do with your product, but it will detract people from your business. Tweet with caution.

The Example: On the flip side, Twitter can also be used by your business to gain exposure in a positive way and interact with fans as well as engage customers. Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco has amassed a following of over two million on his Twitter page. Ochocinco tweets throughout the day to keep fans updated on his whereabouts. On one occasion, he tweeted when the team arrived at a hotel and took the first fans to arrive out on a shopping spree. Events like that demonstrate why he has had so much success using Twitter. He has done an incredible job of promoting himself and staying away from tweeting about controversial subjects. Other athletes could definitely use his Twitter handle as a blueprint for how they should operate their Twitter handle.

The lesson: Keep it light, personal, and genuine. People will engage with you if you draw them in. Since Ochocinco has generated such a large following and has such a broad reach, he is more likely to generate sponsorships and exposure because of his clean reputation on social media. In comparison, Twitter could boost your company’s reputation with customers and help to gain their trust by engaging them and finding out what they truly want. Tweet with personality.

More and more brands are utilizing Twitter, so be sure to tweet with caution and stay away from controversy. Unfortunately, one wrong tweet can make or break your brands reputation. It may not be permanent, but controversies can drag on for long periods of time. Keep your reputation clean so people will want to engage with you. After all, engagement should be one of your company’s goals in defining social media success.

Trey Newstedt Vocus InternThis post was authored by Trey Newstedt, our Vocus/PRWeb summer marketing intern. Trey is a rising Junior and a Strategic Communications major with a Business minor at Elon University. He has served as treasurer of Elon’s PRSSA chapter and was the youngest person to serve on the executive board. Trey is traveling abroad to London in the fall where he will embark on another PR internship. Let Trey know your thoughts on his post in the comments section below.

(Photo credit – Flickr Creative Commons: petesimon)

Tags : social media

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