20/10/2010

By Rob Weatherhead, Operations Director, Latitude Express

The number of celebrities using Twitter seems to be growing by the day and it seems particularly prevalent in the world of sport. Some of the biggest and brightest names in sport us the microblogging platform on a daily basis and provide an insight into their daily lives. Many of them also use Twitter to communicate between themselves and engage in light hearted banter, much to the amusement of their followers. Over the weekend however this banter got a little out of hand as jibes were taken to heart and harsh words exchanged.

The main perpetrator of the banter was current Derby captain and ex Wales international footballer Robbie Savage. Initially engaging in some banter on Friday with Rio Ferdinand which went down well with their followers, Savage then engaged in a similar “conversation” with PGA tour golfer Ian Poulter. Poulter however didn’t seem to take Savage’s jokes in a positive light and things got a little out of hand from there.

The conversation continued in this vein for a while before it fizzled out but things then only got worse when somebody suggested Rory Mcllroy should get involved next and the young Northern Irishman made it very clear what his views on Savage were in one simple tweet!

The followers of Savage seem to enjoy his use of Twitter for berating other sportsmen, but it seems some of the recipients don’t always see the amusing side.

Whilst I am sure most of Savage’s comments are done in a light hearted manner, this is surely a PR disaster waiting to happen if this continues. Savage himself probably hasn’t got much to worry about unless he makes the mistake of involving his employers in his tweets. But tour golfers such as Poulter and Mcllroy have sponsors with whom they have lucrative contracts with. Mcllroy was hardly a shining example to young fans in his tweet and this is not what sponsors want to see from someone representing their brand.

We have already seen a number of sportspeople get in trouble for not thinking before they tweet and I think we will see a few more stories before people start to learn their lesson.

It may be innocent banter, but when sponsors and large sums of money are involved the sportsmen involved are taking a risk. Anything you tweet is in the public domain, and unless you want something out in the open, it is worth keeping your beak shut!


Rob Weatherhead works at Latitude Digital Marketing, you can follow him on twitter at @robweatherhead