Social media management Even the most optimistic social media executive at Dulux, the paint brand, would not have woken up this morning in the hope of seeing the company’s name among the UK’s top trends on social media. This is paint, after all, and there are plenty of other things going on in the world. In terms of brand awareness, it has therefore turned into quite the day for Dulux.
At long last, everyone is talking about paint. Such is the power of football, and “football Twitter”, that even something as mundane as a commercial partnership with Tottenham Hotspur can suddenly lead to nationwide attention.
Does it matter that this attention is entirely due to some mischievous activity on the Dulux account, rather than the news of the partnership itself?
Just minutes after the deal was announced, the official Dulux account had suggested that their “Dulux dog” might do a better job at centre-back than Tottenham’s current defenders. Another post showed a picture of an empty cabinet, emblazoned with the Tottenham badge, featuring the caption: “For sale, unused trophy cabinet”.
All PR is good PR, as they say in the corporate world. It’s certainly made Dulux a topic of conversation, and more cynical readers might raise an eyebrow at how this has all panned out.
Tottenham are presumably less pleased with the outcome, and one wonders how such events might alter their relationship with their “first ever Official Paint Supplier”.
In the football world, it is emphatically not the case that all PR is good PR. Just ask Phil Foden and Joe Hart, two of the latest players to find themselves in a spot of social media bother.
When he should have been celebrating his fine performance in Manchester City’s victory over Borussia Dortmund last night, Foden was instead scrambling to delete a post that had appeared in his name, asking “are you ready” to Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe, City’s opponent in the Champions League semi-finals.
It is hardly the biggest social media gaffe committed by, or on behalf of, a professional footballer. But it is evidently, and understandably, not the sort of thing that Foden
wants to be presenting to the world.
Hart’s incident was far more embarrassing: in the aftermath of Tottenham’s humiliating loss to Dinamo Zagreb in the Europa League, a message appeared on the goalkeeper’s account saying “job done”. Hart swiftly apologised on behalf of his “social media team”.
To which the obvious response is: how many people does he employ to post occasional Twitter and Instagram messages in his name?
“Unfortunately stuff like this happens,” Hart said. “Just know it didn’t come from any other place other than a typo.” Gary Neville, a former player who is well aware of the power of a well-managed social media account, has a simple solution.
“Lads, run your own accounts,” he tweeted. “Your independent thought and authenticity is at stake. It’s your voice, not anyone else’s.” If only it were so straightforward.
There are a couple of points to make here. One is that a small minority of footballers clearly cannot be trusted by their agents (or entourages, or management teams, or whatever bubble they have built around themselves) to manage their own accounts.
Who can forget, for example, when Victor Anichebe, the former Sunderland striker, uploaded a post that read: “Can you tweet something like… unbelievable support yesterday and great effort by the lads! Hard result to take! But we go again!”? Or when Joleon Lescott, tweeted a picture of an expensive car after Aston Villa lost 6 -0 to Liverpool in 2016?
He claimed it was an accident and that the image had been sent from his phone in his pocket while he was driving. The other, more serious point, is that having a “social media team” allows a footballer to distance themselves from the nastier side of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram without having to compromise on the brand they are trying to build for themselves.
Gareth Bale, who has posted 930 times on Instagram and has more than 43 million followers, happily admitted last month that he stays away from social media because of the “toxic people trying to say negative things”.
Maybe such an approach is not as “authentic” as sponsors and fans would hope but in the cynical, ugly world of social media, it is increasingly hard to know what is real and what isn’t.
This is an area of society where everything should be questioned, even a couple of tweets by a paint company, and it is hard to blame footballers for wanting to keep their hands out of the fire.