Ryan Giggs and the power of Social Media

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Twitter has really hit the headlines this week as the Ryan Giggs Gagging order (super injunction) has been the main news piece on TV, radio and all mainstream newspapers.

It seems that social media communication has really put a cat in amongst the pigeons and has made a mockery of England’s privacy laws.

I am less interested in the details of a premier league footballers private affairs (excuse the pun!) but I am fascinated by how this has been a very visible example of the power of social media communication.

The issue centred around a court order banning a newspaper (traditional media) from running a story. Ryan Giggs didn’t want the story to get out so he obtained an injunction, incensed by this someone in the know decided to announce the story on Twitter. The gossip spread and we quickly had a situation where a survey suggested that despite the injunction, an estimated 60% of the population knew it was Ryan Giggs!

What fascinates me is the effectiveness of Twitter as a means of communicating information which somehow seemed more believable and credible because it was a message from someone you know and/or follow.

Ryan Giggs has ended up doing more damage to himself this way than had he allowed to story to break in the national press. If the story had been published I think most intelligent people would have taken very little notice (OK that doesn’t include Sun readers!). Lets compare the two methods;

  • A lightweight redtop newspaper renown for inaccurate gossip
  • A tweet from a trusted contact

Somehow it all seems so much more believable (that it was Ryan Giggs, not the story itself) when you see the information from someone that you know and follow.

This just shows us how effective a message through social media can be, even if the story does originate from traditional media it is noticed and taken more seriously when ‘shared’ by someone you follow via social media.

The nature of communicating is, in my opinion, going through revolutionary change and this is bound to have an effect on every business over the next few years.

Whilst a story of this nature (celebrity gossip) would not be appropriate for LinkedIn I believe the principle (the power of social media communication) still holds true for  information of a more professional nature is a reminder to us all that we have at our fingertips a very powerful communication tool!

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2 Responses to “Ryan Giggs and the power of Social Media”

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Mark – I think it is also interesting from a persoanl branding point of view. See the link to an article in The Economist’s Intelligent Life supplement:

http://moreintelligentlife.com/content/lifestyle/tim-de-lisle/what-giggs-and-tendulkar-have-common

Read that last paragraph in particular. Giggs ahs done a very good job in developing a personal brand, just as one might through the use of social media. A brand which the media and British public (witness BBC Sports Personality of the Year award) have previously lapped up.

So I think what this story also shows is that one’s personal brand – be it it self created online as a “Ordinary Joe Bloggs” or through all media as a public figure – can be blown apart by one’s behaviour. Even in this digital age, actions can speak louder than Linkedin (with a little help from Twitter)!

Final point, I wonder now if Lawyers will advise their clients to bite the bullet and face the press in future, rather than injunct, given how Twitter has cast this story wide open.

Interesting article, I would very much agree. The creator of the sitcom “The IT Crowd” posted on Twitter that Osama Bin Laden had been watching “The IT Crowd” in the videos that were posted of him. The story went viral, and then got picked up by mainstream press. The way he exploited Twitter very much confirms what you said in this article – he posted “broken links” to articles confirming the story, and posted retweets by non existent users to confirm it.

There are people out there who wouldn’t believe the Pope if he announced the sky was blue, but would believe anything muttered to them by a bloke in a pub.


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