Golf Editorial

Golf Tour Arrogance & Unresponsiveness in Social Media

Recently, I tweeted to a Ladies Golf tour, Australia’s ALPG, asking about its 2018/19 tournament schedule – which was empty.

I did not receive a reply.

Recently I tweeted to a Ladies Golf tour, Europe’s LET, asking about its 2019 tournament schedule – which was empty.

I did not receive a reply.

Recently, I tweeted South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, asking if the Joburg Open would be played late this year as usual.

I did not receive a reply.

Several times recently I tweeted the Asian Tour asking about its tournament schedule.

I did not receive a reply.

Do you perceive a pattern here?

Conversely, I recently tweeted a Ugandan internet service provider, Africell, regarding the usage of vpn’s; I receive a clear reply, via public tweet, inside 5 minutes. I immediately signed-up with Africell; it earned my business.

Going back to golf tours, I’ve tweeted to the European Tour perhaps 70 times over the past 6 years, asking legitimate questions like: ‘Have you ceased to publish stats’, ‘Is such-and-such a tournament cancelled or rescheduled’, ‘Do you know your new site doesn’t work properly’, ‘Which courses are being used this week?’ etc.

I’ve never received a reply. Not one. Ever.

However, I’ve noticed the European Tour does responds to tweets from players such as Lee Westwood, for example. The conclusions to be drawn are obvious:

  • Some tweeters matter more to European Tour than others; there’s no egalitarianism here, and;
  • European Tour’s twitter account does not exist to be helpful to its twitter followers. What happened to growing the game?

One of those ignored twitter followers may, in a few years’ time, be the CEO of a major business, sitting down with his marketing execs to decide whether to sponsor a European Tour event.

Now, to any pro tour, I’m Joe Nobody. Also, I may annoy them on occasion by deliberately and publicly highlighting errors in their: sites, apps, schedules, player profiles, site functionality, etc, and that’s not designed to win me brownie points. But, ultimately, such engagement will be helpful to a Tour organisation. If it takes notice.

So, why would a tour not answer a simple, usually helpful, question from a (demonstrable) golf fan?

I don’t know, but I suspect the answer lies in dinosaurs. Here are persons in positions of authority within tour organisations who may be clueless about social media, half-assed or ignorant as regards customer service delivery / quality and blissfully unaware that some of their windows to the world in the form of modern media can be of significance.

These are the types of persons who by 2012 were thinking. ‘What’s an app?’. Who, by 2014, when they finally (sort of) understood what an app was, most likely after talking with their grandchildren, went into the office the next day and said ‘We must have an app; but don’t spend too much, it’s a modern fad and will die-out.’

And who, in the ensuing years, steadily made so many restrictive rules & threats about the company’s engagement in social media that the persons actually trying to deliver service through those channels are today terrified of getting in trouble so, when they’re in doubt or a topic may prove sensitive or embarrassing, they naturally do nothing.

However, if the answer is not dinosaurs then these organisations may really be in trouble! Arrogant, flawed, corporate cultures and paradigms can and do survive until their inevitable extinction.

In the modern age, as a business, you’re more exposed than ever before in history. A simple tweet, post or pic can turn into a public relations nightmare, at warp speed. This means, whether current management & board members like it or not, as a business you are more accountable than ever before.

What’s the answer?

Simple, be accountable, proactive even.

If, as a business, you are going to be involved in social media then embrace it; reply to questions, be irreverent sometimes, admit mistakes and apologise, be responsive, extinguish fires immediately and publicly – not by burying your head in the sand and hoping they’ll go away! Sometimes, they don’t go away.

If you’re a CEO or business manager and you truly believe you don’t have the time or resources to support your social media presence then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

Here’s a newsflash for you. “Social media engagement is not a one-way street”. Just because your marketing manager convinced you he or she could use social media to attract new customers, and you’ve invested company funds in that pursuit, it doesn’t mean the two of you can thenceforth sit and push your marketing messages out into cyberspace and ignore everything that occurs as a consequence of your actions; especially responses or questions from the public.

If you think your business can operate in some magic digital vacuum where everything that happens in your social media space will be positive and the remainder can be ignored or swept under the carpet, then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

If you think you can ignore what your own social media channels are telling your business about itself and that ‘irritating noise’ in any negative form is meaningless, then get out of the social media space! Now! Please!

Finally, a simple plea.

If you receive a legitimate question from a twitter follower. REPLY TO IT!

 

© Copyright MJ Miller (Mike) 17 November 2018