Viewed by most peers and fans as the model professional sportsman, Woods’ phenomenal success is basically unparalleled in the sporting world. He also had a squeaky clean image to boot until the unfortunate events of last Friday, 27th of November. The story seems to keep snowballing with more and more articles cropping up daily. The latest is that he was found snoring in the street by his neighbour, reports the BBC after crashing his car into the hydrant. Who knows what the actual truth is, but it is safe to say that whatever happens, Woods has to be positive in his strategy in limiting the damage to his name/brand as a golf professional and high-profile celebrity.
You can argue that his golfing life has nothing to do with his personal life, but when established sport stars get up to alleged social deviance, all forms of media will put them on the front pages as opposed to the back. You have to be willing take the rough with the smooth when you’re in the constant gaze of the information highway – more so now than ever. As I said in my previous post on sport stars and social media, social media is not simply there as a brand/promotion tool for matches and tournaments when the going is good, but also to communicate with your fans, turncoats and moralists in times of trouble. If anything, being more visible during these situations should show the real humanistic side to a high-profile sports star.
I feel that Woods could be using social media more effectively to interact with his fans as well as righteous moralists to try and control the scandal better. So far Woods has reacted with statements on his personal website in which fans can post reactions. This is an adequate use of social media but if you check out his Facebook page, there’s very little, if any, interaction from Woods himself to thank those supporting him or to defend against those attacking him.
The relatively static personal website medium is rather a one way communication and it is likely that his statements had a ghost writer, which I think can create a distance between Woods and his onlookers. I thought the idea of using social media was so that when you are talked about (and the chances are pretty high that you will be if you’re famous in midst of a scandal) you use it to defend yourself, interact in a two-way conversation so that you can control and influence the communications somewhat. However, some would argue that only fuels the fire more. What do you think? Should Wood’s be doing a better job of managing his social media with regards to this current scandal or is he playing it just right given the circumstances?