What Can We Learn From Wayne Rooney’s Naughty Nike Tweet?

It’s the morning after the night before, and we’re sure a lot of you are as disappointed/unsurprised as we are that England’s Euro 2012 campaign has come to an abrupt end. For everyone else who thinks they’ve finally escaped football for another two years…well, we’re sorry. In light of events last night (and last week) we’re going to be evaluating Wayne Rooney’s performance – on Twitter.

Trouble stalks Wayne Rooney like a mischievous shadow, and true to form our favourite England player with a hair transplant was at it again last week. However, his latest indiscretion had nothing to do with old age pensioners or kicking a Montenegrin but rather plugging Nike on Twitter and passing it off as a personal comment.

Way back in January, Rooney posted this contrived little gem of faux motivational blurb:

“My resolution – to start the year as a champion, and finish it as a champion…#makeitcountgonike.me/makeitcount”.

Apart from not making it clear what his plans are for the middle of the year (a brief dalliance with mediocrity and a football lesson from Andrea Pirlo, apparently), the obvious issue with Wazza’s tweet is that it’s not immediately clear that this is a piece of marketing. The Advertising Standards Agency agreed and this week decided that Rooney’s tweet, and a similar one by Jack Wilshere, could no longer appear in their current form.

Nike protested that Rooney’s strong association with the brand, the Nike URL and the ‘make it count’ hashtag were all obvious signs that the tweet was promoting Nike, but the ASA stated that not all of Rooney’s followers would be aware of his sponsorship deal with Nike or of the ‘Make It Count’ campaign.

Like the Katie Price/Snickers case before it (a series of bizarre tweets which had even the most esteemed and cynical tweeters convinced the artist formerly known as Jordan was having a complete personality breakdown), the Nike/Rooney case gives us all a couple of things to mull over when it comes to social media marketing.

The ASA has confirmed that any marketing tweets made by a ‘personal’ account need to be tagged with either #spon or #ad to avoid any repercussions. So if you’re planning on getting Rick Astley to tweet about your dog grooming services, make sure he knows his hashtags.

Perhaps more relevant to brands without the budget to afford ex-80s popstars, however, is the effect Rooney’s marketing tweet had on his followers. This wasn’t a case of the ASA monitoring Rooney’s feed for unscrupulous activity – they were called into action by a follower who felt so betrayed by their hero’s corporate sell-out tweet that they sold him down the river. Even the followers who didn’t bother calling the ASA took some offence to Rooney’s tweet.

The lesson to take from this is that you need to love your followers and remember that Twitter is a two-way street. I’d argue Wayne Rooney doesn’t do Twitter particularly well – yes, he tweets a few words about the football now and again and engages in ‘banter’ with Piers Morgan (which, by the way, is the quickest way to get unfollowed by me), but there is relatively little to be gained in the way of interaction or conversation from following Rooney.

Rather than going for the hard sell, Twitter is all about building trust relationships and brand reputation. People use Twitter for conversation (and follow celebrities in a vain attempt to talk to them), so good tweeting is all about engaging with your followers as people rather than wallets.

Tweeting about your brand and products without engaging with your followers is like going to the pub with some mates and talking about yourself all the time. Actually, in Rooney’s case, it’s like going to pub, talking about yourself and then trying to force your mates to buy something. Think about how they’d react – that’s what your followers would think of you too, except instead of a series of awkward phone calls and dodging you in public, they can discontinue the relationship by simply pressing a button.

I think the Twitter account for our client American Soda is a good example of how brands should ‘do Twitter’. Note how there’s no hard selling in the timeline, no demands to look at products. Instead, there’s a lot of talking to customers, addressing their issues and needs and tweets that’ll aimed at their interests rather than their wallets. Wayne could learn a thing or two!

Chris Smith
  • Written by on 25th June 2012 at 11:38
  • “Chris Smith is a copywriter and social media manager at Fluid Creativity.”
  • Google+