10 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Post Your Apology to Twitter

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Riley Cooper is the latest athlete caught in the middle of an internet scandal. Cooper was videotaped at a Kenny Chesney concert screaming a racist rant because he allegedly could not go back stage to meet the artist.

Though the incident occurred months ago, Cooper took to Twitter to apologize for the incident just last week once the video surfaced. His 3-part tweet acknowledged his mistake and asked fans for forgiveness.

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Riley Cooper made a mistake, just like many athletes have. Posting to Twitter an apology is not an effective form of communication. During scandals, especially those that require a public apology, using Twitter is the worst possible thing an athlete or team can do.

I do not condone Riley Cooper’s actions, nor do I support the type of language he used. However, Digital Sports Voice is created to analyze trends in digital media – and apparently making national apologies is one of those trends. And it needs to stop.

Here are the 10 reasons why Riley Cooper, and all future athletes and teams involved in scandal, should not post their apologies to Twitter:

1. Not everyone has Twitter. A public apology should be public. Chances are you have not hurt or offended the 10,000 people that follow your Twitter handle but the 500,000 fans of your team, the 1,000,000 people in your city and the 10,000,000 fans of your sport. Your apology will not reach those who need to hear it.

2. Twitter is emotionless. The most important aspect of an apology is sincerity. Posts on the Internet show no compassion and no remorse. A press conference shows the player’s face. Fans can see tears in their eyes, the remorse of their actions or the overwhelming sense of guilt. The only thing Twitter can depict is emojis, and people will not take you seriously if there is a crying yellow face at the end of your tweet.

3. Twitter breaks up your message. If you need to make a public apology, chances are you need more than 140 characters. Remember when you would say, “I’m sorry” and your parents would ask you, “For what?” Players have to admit what happened, have to show an understanding that their actions were wrong, and then must make a commitment to avoid repeating the same mistakes. It is impossible to accomplish all of this in an apology on Twitter. If you decide to tweet your apology, like Cooper, your message will be broken up into multiple parts – not a good thing to do. Twitter displays messages by most recently posted, which typically means your apology appears in reverse order from top to bottom, making it hard to read.

4. Twitter is not serious. Most sports teams and players use a marketing voice that is “fun” or “casual” on Twitter. Sports is entertainment. It isn’t suit and tie, it isn’t corporate, and isn’t serious. When your voice has to change from fun to serious, it is hard for followers to understand or relate. For instance, scroll back through Cooper’s tweets and laugh at his jokes, admire his photos having fun, and then read his apology. Still think he sounds seriously sorry? Though the messages are posted on separate days, they are still connected through his Twitter handle as if they were seconds apart. It’s the equivalent of opening a press conference with a knock-knock joke and then apologizing for your mistakes.

5. Twitter and scandals should be kept separated. Don’t associate your Twitter handle with scandal. As stated before, your Twitter account is a marketing tool. It can be used to promote charity events, endorse a new product or sell your auto-biography. Don’t associate it with your mistakes too.

6. Twitter makes your scandal viral. A press conference is played through ESPN, TV reports and printed in the next day’s paper. It seems bad, but it’s not. If you are sincerely sorry, your press conference can help. Apologizing on Twitter creates a wildfire you can’t control. Your apology will go viral, will be retweeted and will receive many, many, many responses. TV reports and newspapers will still cover your apology, but now they will include the Internet backlash. The message in your apology is no longer controlled by you once posted to Twitter.

7. New Twitter followers are not the followers you want. The viral nature of your apology will add followers to your handle. But they aren’t engaged followers. The new population of followers might be trolls, critics and people who provide negative feedback. You effectively ruin your Twitter account as a marketing tool.

8. Scandals are louder on the Internet. The Internet is a dangerous place. There are a lot of people with opinions and a lot of time on their hands – and these people have an equal voice as you on the Internet. That guy who sits I the basement on his sports blog will now have people read his rant about why you should die. All he has to do is link his content to your apology and suddenly his opinion can equate to your voice. This is not true for standard press conferences. Though the blogger can still post his death threat post, people will have a harder time finding it buried beneath articles posting video of your press conference.

9. Twitter is not an official statement. When teams announce transactions there is always a link to the official statement or press release. The team website has credibility and branding, something Twitter posts don’t necessarily have. Twitter is a marketing tool, a way for fans to find or be directed to these official statements.

10. Twitter is not an end. I cannot emphasize this enough: Twitter is only a marketing tool. It is the means to an end, not the end. You can sell T-shirts by linking to your website, but you cannot sell them on Twitter. The same rule goes for apologizing – Twitter cannot be your actual apology.

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