2016 NFL draft: Social media hits and misses

BY: Beth Miller @BethTalksSports

PRO Account Director 

Image from Fox Sports

Image from Fox Sports

Social media can be a professional athlete’s best friend or worst enemy, depending on how they choose to use it. Last week’s NFL draft class was no exception.  SportsPR took a closer look at some of the top Twitter moments of the draft to give you the good, the bad and the ugly.

THE GOOD

JARED GOFF

We’ll call Jared Goff the “Brand Man.” His Twitter feed was filled with shout-outs to sponsors such as RedBull, Pantene, Gillette and others. Brands clearly jumped on the chance to partner with the number one overall draft pick, and leverage what would be a huge day for fan and media visibility. Goff is in an ideal situation to use social media to his advantage and create a substantial secondary income via sponsorships. Assuming he’s a smart kid, and we do, Goff will continue being a player on and off the field whom brands will want to get behind.

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT

Getting drafted in the first round will certainly put you in the headlines, but Ezekiel Elliott may walk away from this draft being remembered more for his self-made crop top than his 4th overall pick. The Twitter world went crazy for his red carpet outfit selection, although those in the know recognized it was a direct jab at the NCAA for its no crop-top jersey rule. The self-proclaimed “hero in a half shirt” obviously has a sense of humor, and used the draft and social media as his personal stage to make a statement.

JOEY BOSA

It looks like Joey Bosa, selected 3rd overall to the San Diego Chargers, decided the NFL draft was a prime time to join the Twitter world.  After his first tweet ever, Bosa already had more than 200K followers. It’s likely his sponsorship with @official_metrx required him to be on Twitter, so it will be interesting to see how active he’ll be moving forward — or if it will simply be a sponsor promotion tool. As the PR & marketing world knows, if Bosa wants to continue getting sponsorship opportunities, he’ll need to stay on top of his social media activity to make it worth the investment dollars.

JALEN RAMSEY

The athletes who win on social media are the ones who engage with fans. Fans want to feel connected to their favorite athlete and a response, or retweet can go a long way in building and maintain a fanbase. Jalen Ramsey was a RT’ing machine during the draft, thanking everyone for their support. Granted a lot of these were his fellow NFL’ers and college buddies, but if he can engage with his fans in the same way, he’ll set the stage for a larger fanbase that will follow him throughout his career.

THE BAD

ROBERT NKEMDICHE

Nkemdiche’s last tweet was 10/30/15. Could this have been a strategic move to avoid distractions during the college football season? Perhaps. But for an athlete with some questionable off-the-field behavior, Nkemdiche may need to consider re-entering the social media world and using it as a platform to create a positive image as he builds his NFL career — and a day like the NFL draft could have been an ideal time to do it.

THE UGLY

LAREMY TUNSIL

Social media was not kind to Laremy Tunsil during the draft.  Shortly before the draft began, a video was posted to Tunsil’s Twitter account showing him smoking what looks to be marijuana out of a gas mask. His agent claimed the account was hacked, but Tunsil went on to admit it was in fact him in the video, while unclear who posted it. His 13th pick by the Miami Dolphins was much lower than expected, demonstrating that an untimely tweet can be extremely damaging.

Tunsil’s social media troubles didn’t end there. After his selection, two photos were posted to his Instagram account showing text messages between Tunsil and an alleged Ole Miss assistant AD discussing giving Tunsil’s mom money for an electric bill. Then, in an odd sequence of events, Tunsil was asked in his press conference if money was exchanged between him and a coach, and he replied, “I have to say yeah.” Tunsil was then interrupted and quickly escorted off stage.

What will come of all of this remains to be seen, but it’s a good reminder to athletes to monitor their accounts closely and change passwords frequently. And of course, avoid any behaviors that could be detrimental to their career.