The Sun and PR Week have both covered a story today about footballers being banned from social networks by their clubs (specifically Manchesters United and City). Footballers and social networks, particularly Twitter, aren’t often the best mix: see Ryan Babel and Darren Bent for further details.
Despite the freedom of speech argument, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. When it comes to social media a certain amount of common sense is required, and without wanting to resort to stereotypes, footballers aren’t considered one of the more sensible facets of society, so perhaps a blanket ban is best. Fans are still going to go and watch the match/purchase merchandise etc., and at the end of the day that has to be the consideration of the business – does a presence on SM by individuals have a positive effect on the bottom line? In this instance I don’t think it does.
Having said that, Bent has learnt from his mistake in the summer, and he now provides an intriguing insight in the day-to-day workings of a professional footballer’s life. As long he steers clear of engineering transfer moves on Twitter again, he could become a case study of how public figures should operate online.