When an athlete’s profile rises, so does the potential for social media miscues -- which can range from minor slip ups like Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson tweeting that Baltimore Ravens supporters are the “worst fan base,” to major PR problems, like homophobic tweets by NHL player Tyler Seguin earlier this year.
Even mascots mess up. In the NFL, Atlanta’s FreddieFalcon, recently apologized for a tweet about suicide and the team’s disappointing season.
But one rising NFL star is turning his social media habit into a business platform for his personal brand.
A group of social media marketing students at Emerson College was recently issued a challenge: Tweet at celebrities to get them to visit. They chose New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman and tweeted invites at him with the hashtag #Edelman2Emerson. And one night in late October, the man also known as @Edelman11 showed up.
The wide receiver told the class social media is a great way to interact with fans, but players need to think before they tweet.
“You gotta be careful with social media," said Edelman, "especially as an athlete. A person that’s under the microscope.”
Edelman’s fifth NFL season has been a breakout year. But long before he became Tom Brady’s top target, the 27-year-old started tweeting for fun.
“The adage is true. The harder you work, the luckier you get," says David Gerzhof Richard, a marketing professor at Emerson. He says Edelman’s growing social media stats -- more than 130,000 Twitter followers and 90,000 Facebook likes -- mirror his on-field performance.
“He was working on his social media platform before he found himself in the limelight and so, I think he was very well-positioned to take advantage of that situation," he says.
That’s why Edelman hired the agency Superdigital.
Superdigital’s creative director Assaf Swissa says, “The second you start doing traditional endorsement stuff, that’s when everyone’s going to get turned off.”
He says, don't expect to see offers like coupons and promo codes from Edelman: “Twenty percent off and you know, five dollars off and that kind of thing. That’s a bummer. That’s not really what anybody wants to see.”
Swissa says Edelman is personally involved in every post, so his personality shines through. That authentic style just helped him land an endorsement deal with Puma. But Superdigital’s head of strategy Alan Ringvald says authenticity on social media is risky.
“These are just people. And sometimes they have opinions. And sometimes those opinions aren’t popular.”
Social media strategy is all well and good, but Edelman himself says when it comes to picking up a lot of followers, nothing compares to scoring a touchdown.
From Michigan to Maine and parts in between, power outages that began before Christmas continue. Storms brought down power lines. More winter weather is forecast for coming days in many of the affected areas.
Driving while "texting" or while "holding" your cellphone falls under the category of "distracted driving." And while a lot of states have already cracked down on it, Russ Martin with the drivers' group AAA says there’s more to come in 2014.
"One of the most high profile distracted driving laws that are going to be coming onto effect on Jan. 1 is a ban on hand-held cellphone use in the state of Illinois," Russ Martin said.
Also, California will start enforcing a law that bans anyone under age 18 from writing or reading a text while driving. And Oregon is increasing its fines for texting and talking on a hand-held from about $142 to up to $500.
Rahi Abouk is a professor at Ohio University* and co-authored a study looking at whether texting bans work. He says initially the number of fatal accidents goes down but, "The bans become ineffective on fatal accidents and drivers return to their previous behaviors after three to four months.
In other words, it has the lifespan of the average New Year’s resolution.
A Russian ship carrying an Australian scientific expedition has been trapped since Monday. But a Chinese icebreaker is expected to soon free it from the ice. Other ships are also on the way. The 74 people aboard the MV Akademik Shokalskiy plan to then continue their expedition.
The diplomat, Mohammed Chatah, was a senior aide to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Chatah was also a critic of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the militant group Hezbollah that is allied with the Syrian leader. At least five other people were killed and about 70 were injured by Friday's blast.