Why football wants to ban Twittering…

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Over in the UK, Leicester rugby boss Cockerill did it earlier this month and back here in the colony, the NRL’s Penrith Panthers recently had to defend themselves against having done it.

So what is IT? And why is IT such a big deal? 


IT is social media: sites like twitter.com and facebook.com.


If you’re a marketer, you might ask, why are the powers that be publicly discussing at press conferences, how they are directing their advertising spend? Afterall, social media is just another media channel, isn’t it? Well, yes… and no.


Social media strategy is different, because social media is fundamentally different to traditional media and marketing channels. Social media requires an entirely new mindset. Social media engagement means ceeding the sense of control and conversing dialogically (in a two-way conversation) in an interconnected globally networked mediasphere (the new mass market?) where anything can and usually does happen.


So, forget the catch phrases like Web 2.0 (that’s marketing spin derived from five year old techno-speak), if you’re a suit take a deep breath and visualise ‘letting go’…then grab your iPhone 4 or blackberry and Carpe diem! Social media wants you two to get to know each other, before all the kids born with a username and password, lap you again in the Twittersphere.


Unlike every other form of mass media – social media is not something you can learn from a textbook or something someone can walk you through. 


YOU have to ENGAGE. YOU have to PARTICIPATE.


Think of social media as the new cafe, club or after match function. The only difference is, you’re a novice again. If you can remember back to the time when your hands would start sweating just at the thought of a random social approach, well that’s what social media feels like (at first). But just like your adolescent social awkwardness, you’re social media stumbles will soon pass. I promise.


So what are you waiting for Mr Cockerill? Now that you’ve got your head out of the scrum (although I bet it doesn’t feel like it sometimes now that you’re in rugby administration!), why don’t you jump in and lead by example? 


After all, isn’t it about time professional footballers got some help with professionally navigating the new form of media in rugby town? (Beyond ‘Don’t take drunk, naked pictures of you and your friends because they’ll come back to haunt you!’) Because the traditional benefactors of the game (the sponsors) are well-versed and engaged with social media as they seek new ways of developing intrinsic sponsorship values via integration. Worth considering, don’t you think?

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