When Sport Goes Wrong….. Do You Have A Social Media Plan?

Something that is often forgotten, or just ignored, in social media and in business generally is the need to plan for what could go wrong.

We all plan for what will go right and how we are going to spread the good news side with community work, new player signings, crucual wins, etc.  If you are a business it could be a new product that is launched or client that has been won.  That is easy and is part of any marketing plan that is put together.

But….and it is a big BUT….. what happens when something goes wrong?  And almost certainly, with the new immediate information age we live in, something will go wrong and sometime in the not too distant future.


It need not be if you are prepared for it.  As part of your planning when looking at involving your club or organisation in social media look at what could go wrong.  Put out scenarios to those stakeholders who would be involved (PR, marketing, sales, playing, community) and come up with some ideas.

It may not be on a scale of a BP but we have already seen examples from Darren Bent (tweeting about wanting to get out of Spurs), Sepp Blatter (active on twitter until the not-given England ‘goal’ and he dissappeared from social media), Tiger Woods and others.  

If Tigers’ team had a plan and could react quickly and effectively could it have prevented the media circus the enveloped him and continues to do so today?  Quite possibly if an immediate and open message had gone out to fans explaining what had happened rather than allowing the runours to build and the silence just intensified everything.  The mess didn’t happen in social media but social media could have certainly helped calm the situation.

With information is so immediate and freely available, the opportunities for disgruntled ex-staff to say something damaging or tweet/photo of a player being drunk out in town the night before a game getting out.  It really could, and probably will, happen to your club or player – the higher the profile the more the plan is needed.

You can come up with most scenarios in your meeting very quickly.  If you then decide how you will respond and who will be doing it then you will avoid any knee-jerk reactions.

The worst mistake a company can make it is respond too quickly and without thought to the consequences.  A traditional PR response is probably not the right one and shutting down all social media communication is certainly the wrong knee-jerk reaction but is often the only one they will know how to do.

My advice to anyone using social media or planning to is simple   Make sure you have a ‘crisis management’ plan and that social media is included within it (burying your head in the sand and hoping it all goes away it isn’t a plan!).  When it does happen make sure everyone sticks to it and knows what to do.

Do you have a plan?

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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