The news that David Moyes will become the new manager of Manchester United seemed to be announced by an over-eager social media team before either party was ready to confirm the news.
A post on the Premier League champions' official Facebook page early yesterday afternoon claimed a deal had been reached for the current Everton manager to take over the reigns from the retiring Sir Alex Ferguson next season. The only problem being that the news had not been officially confirmed by either club.
Although the post was quickly taken down, a link to a form allowing fans to leave their "personal welcome messages for new manager David Moyes" remained active on their Facebook page long after the post was deleted.
The damage caused by this slight of hand appears to be minimal, as Moyes' managerial appointment was confirmed by Everton on their own social media channels soon afterwards; possibly earlier than they would have liked, having been pressured by the "leak" from United's media team.
Social media has become an important tool for sports teams, specifically football clubs, to engage with supporters and keep them firmly up to date with team developments. But this is not the first time an overly enthusiastic social media executive has caused a marketing headache for their clubs.
Last summer, a post on a website for a business relating to the owners of Liverpool FC appeared to claim that the club had agreed a deal to sign Fulham's American star Clint Dempsey. Fulham strongly denied the deal, and the PR disaster culminated in Dempsey signing for rivals Tottenham in the dying seconds of transfer deadline day. It is thought that Liverpool's "leak" angered their Fulham counterparts and caused the deal to collapse.
What this, and previous situations serve to prove is how important it is for businesses from ALL sectors to keep a close eye on their social media presence, and take the management of their Facebook and Twitter accounts very seriously as part of an overall reputation management strategy.