It took a “heartfelt apology” from Ashley Cole to the FA to prevent a ban following his ill advised tweet in the aftermath of the FA’s independent panel decision to ban John Terry for his comments towards Anton Ferdinand.
Whether you think it is a force for good or evil, what is clear is that Twitter, Facebook et al have given individual players a chance to have their voices heard without censure.
The FA has since launched a new code of conduct which covers England players’ use of social media, both when on duty with the national team and when playing for their clubs.
With social media once again on both front and back pages, here are 5 things to consider to help you avoid/deal with a social media crisis:
Accept that social media is now a part of modern football. An outright social media ban is one option but many clubs recognise that Twitter etc can be a useful way for fans to connect with players on a level never before possible and enhance the reputations and profiles of clubs, players and sponsors
Educate your players. Get input on how they use social media and where they think the boundaries of acceptable conduct lie. Players need to know what consequences their actions might have and where the risks lie. Teach your players the value of social media, how to use it and what is not acceptable.
Develop a robust social media policy. Make clear what is acceptable and what is not. Set out the consequences for a breach of the rules. Get buy-in from your players: a code of conduct is much more powerful if it has been drawn up in collaboration with the players themselves rather than being imposed upon them.
Offer your players a social media adviser. There should be a point person for them to turn to for advice on a tweet and to answer any questions they might have.
In a crisis, rely on your social media policy. Take quick and decisive disciplinary action and set an example for other players.