Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
University of Michigan's Catfishing of Its Own Athletes Under Scrutiny
Posted on February 2nd 2013
The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing? Or is it just a spin on the truth? When University of Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon went before a crowd on Friday and explained how the athletic department had hired a media relations firm to teach their student athletes a lesson by “catfishing” some of them online, he probably didn’t think through the ramifications of how this type of social media training might be perceived by the public.
Later that same afternoon, associate athletic director Dave Ablauf issued a statement clarifying his boss’ statements. Ablauf, who is head of the department’s media relations, talked about the original intent of hiring the PR firm to catfish the student athletes.
"We use it as an educational process," Ablauf said. "It wasn't catfishing. It's being misconstrued. They didn't go to that extent (like Te'o's situation). There was no interaction like a catfish. They weren't going down that path. This wasn't us trying to trick anyone."
Earlier in the day, it was revealed by various news stories that members of a media relations firm used an attractive female staffer to go online and try to forge relationships with some of the Michigan athletes. Later, at a team meeting, some of their interactions (and the female media staffer) were revealed. Using a person, real or imaginary, to try and forge a fake relationship online looks like trickery to the public.
Brandon mentioned that some of the athlete’s responses to the woman online were inappropriate. But wasn’t that the intent of the exercise—to create a situation where student-athletes would be tempted to act inappropriately? Are the student-athletes to blame for their solicited responses? With a little digging, a media relations firm could probably find some genuine examples of Michigan student-athletes acting inappropriately on Twitter to use in their training. It's understandable that the public finds something disturbing about this “method” of social media training.
There were no details given about the rest of the training Michigan used so it is inappropriate to make a judgment on their whole process. However, it should be noted that the practice of teaching by shame and humiliation should only be part the equation, if used at all. Shame and fear alone are not good motivators for learning. Schools would be wise to take a page from the University of Washington playbook and teach athletes to build their own brand with the support of the school.
Athletic departments are panicking, and they needn’t be. There are many firms out there, including ours, that have a program that teaches student-athletes how to develop a personal brand on social media and protect their privacy. Using trickery and humiliation may produce short term success, but it will not produce a lasting understanding of how to use social media to build a positive personal brand. There is a difference between educating these kids and managing them. Educating them is a longer process, an investment with positive rewards. Hopefully, we will see more universities taking their duty to educate student-athletes seriously and start reproducing the kind of model that the University of Washington has created.