It's great to see that the Sunderland hierarchy are making a conscious effort to be more transparent with the fans. The growing disconnect between the club and us - the fans - has been a worrying and on-going issue for the past few years. It is good to see they are taking steps to address this on social media and I hope to see more of it during the upcoming season.
However, there is a time to try to be transparent and a time to not say anything at all.
This tweet is a great example of when they have failed in their attempt to be open and honest with the fans on social media. Billed as "Media Watch" and a chance to round-up the media stories around potential transfers, all this tweet does is make the transfer situation at the club less clear to the fans.
For instance, why would the @SunderlandAFC account tweet about transfer rumours based on third party quotes from Sunderland manager Simon Grayson speaking to the media when they have a direct line to the manager and can ask him themselves?
I'm not saying that they broadcast our actual transfer targets on social media. That would be beyond foolish as the clubs who own our target players would just hike up their asking prices and make life difficult for us.
But that only makes their decision to tweet about rumours of our transfer targets more baffling. Are they confirming that we are after these players? Or are they using that annoying eye emoji to suggest that we are not after those players?
And if they are confirming that these bids are official, then surely we have put ourselves in a terrible negotiating position. What I’m trying to say is there is no logic to a tweet like this, either way you look at it.
In trying to be transparent with the fans and share the media stories around transfer targets on social media, the club have just made the situation seem more opaque.
The desire to provide more information and treat the fans with more respect is admirable but doing it in this way looks feeble and shows a lack of authority. It is up to newspapers and fan sites to discuss the media stories around the club. It is up to the club to share facts and information. That is the honesty we are looking for – not transfer rumours, just facts that we would not otherwise privy to.
The official social media accounts for @SunderlandAFC should only share official news. I don’t want to see the club tweeting transfer rumours, I want to see the club tweeting pictures of new signings.
I implore the club to look at West Ham as a case study on how not to run your social media account – particularly when it comes to transfer news.
In 2015 they made the baffling decision to give Jack Sullivan, son of co-owner David Sullivan, his own ‘news column’ on the site and free license to tweet about transfer rumours. He also wrote several guest articles for The S*n. Safe to say, the column didn’t go down too well with the West Ham fans – many of whom labelled the experiment as “embarrassing”.
We are certainly looking for more of an open and honest dialogue between the club and the fans this season - and I appreciate that the club are trying to bridge the gap. But sometimes – particularly when it comes to transfer rumours – it would be wise for the club to listen to Irish philosopher Ronan Keating and “say it best when they say nothing at all”.