Professional athletes have a lot of bad habits. No, I’m not talking about PED and steroid usage. I’m not talking about DUIs, bar fights, or other police blotter news either. I’m talking about social media activity.
Athletes are active and not just on the field. They can get rowdy behind their phone screens. Take Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown as an example.
Mr. Brown Goes to Facebook Live
After the Steelers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in an AFC Divisional Round matchup, the Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin gave a speech in the locker room. Meanwhile, Brown thought it would be a good idea to capture the post-game locker room experience live on Facebook. This meant that Brown live streamed Tomlin talking about the difficulty of facing the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, tossing curses and trash talk at their opponent, and discussing the importance of staying off social media during the week leading up to the game. You can clearly hear Tomlin saying “Be cool on social media” in the video…that Brown streamed live on social media.
Ah, irony. What a fun concept.
Naturally, the video created quite a stir, mostly amongst Brown’s fellow teammates. Tomlin, of course, was the most vocal about Brown’s venture into the film industry. At a news conference two days later, he said “It was foolish of [Brown] to do that. It was selfish of him to do that, and it was inconsiderate of him to do that.” This is the kind of eloquence that makes grown men weep.
It was initially unclear what Brown’s motives were. Did he get caught up in the excitement and emotion of the big win? Did he want to treat his fans and followers to an inside glimpse of his life? Regardless, he wasn’t thinking about the bigger picture and the team as one cohesive unit.
However, earlier this week an nfl.com report broke the news that Brown inked a marketing deal with Facebook, and sources say that the deal is worth six figures.
Conflict of Interest
Facebook also signed Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to a Facebook Live deal. If Facebook continues to offer deals like this to professional athletes, situations similar to Brown’s could arise. Athletes love making money as much as they love playing their sport and in some cases, they love it more. Most head coaches aren’t fans of their players being too active on social media. But when there’s money and attention involved, athletes tend to forget about the bigger picture and will break team rules for a quick buck and some fan engagement.
The Future of Social Media Marketing?
At the same time, it is 2017 and marketing is constantly evolving. Brands need to get creative to stay on top, especially during the live video power struggle social media platforms are currently locked in.
Partnering with Brown was a smart move for Facebook, as the controversy generated a fair amount of interest in its live streaming service. These type of deals don’t hurt Facebook in the least, so expect the company to sign even more athletes. There few things that sports fans love more than the feeling of being in the thick of it with their favorite team or athlete.
But the athletes won’t be hurt either. They’ll get slapped with a small fine, which is nothing compared to their player contracts and endorsement deals. Brown got a $10,000 fine for his misconduct. His Facebook Live deal is six figures and he’s currently playing under a $41,960,000 contract. I highly doubt he’ll be crying himself to sleep after he pays his fine.
At the end of the day, Facebook Live gets more exposure and attention, and athletes get more money. An all-around marketing win – now that’s cause for excessive celebration.