Social Media Training for Athletes Sparks Media Frenzy

I read this article on PR Daily where a blogger / journalist at a press conference for the Univiersity of Michigan Athletic Department tweeted out that the players as a whole had been “catfished” as part of their team social media training by social media firm 180communications. I had intended to simply comment on the blog post, but the system wouldn’t let me, so instead I am blogging my response.

Brandon said the athletic department catfished several athletes to teach them the dangers of social networking. Very interesting.

— Kyle Rowland (@KyleRowland) February 1, 2013

Professionally, I absolutely agree with the practice of 180communications > with all new Sparkle Agency clients who have already established a social media presence, I or my agency team members will find & follow all their social media accounts, and provide them with a comprehensive “audit” of their social media brand and what is readily-available information that can easily be found by recruiters, reporters and law-enforcement officials, not to mention how it shapes the perception of potential clients and employers.

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People are very sensitive to being looked at, and watched, but they are also trying to generate awareness of themselves and build a brand, so 180communications in this way is doing exactly what they’ve been hired to do – educate the athletes on the impact of what they share on open, public social media channels.

We use it as an educational process. It wasn’t catfishing. It’s being misconstrued. They didn’t go to that extent (like Te’o’s situation). There was no interaction like a catfish.

”– Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf,
to the Detroit News

The athletes were not “catfished”, unless the person who friend requested / followed their profile didn’t use a real profile. And even if they did, it would be a valuable exercise in maintaining privacy and personal safety while growing a professional career online (do you blindly accept friend requests from anyone & everyone?).

What many people misunderstand about social media, Twitter especially is that your activity there IS archived permanently. Even IF you tweet thousands of times a month and your Twitter feed is fast and long, anyone can search Google for the text in your tweet and have it returned with 1 click.

i.e. > copy & paste these words into Google right now & see what it returns: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” – Google SERP #1 result is @jkrums original tweet from 2009!

That can be incriminating. A lot of people have also been caught by having images taken and shared of their tweets, so even when they try to delete the tweets, the evidence is still being shared, out of their control.

My rule is don’t EVER share anything on social media that isn’t OK for public, viral consumption. Most, if not all, of my content will never go viral, but if & when something does, I know I’ll be happy about it. At the very worst, I may be mildly embarrassed or mortified but I’ll still be benefiting from personal information (NOT private information) gaining viral spread & traction.

What do you think? Were the athletes “catfished”? Have you ever researched someone’s online profiles before making a choice to hire them, date them or purchase from them?

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