We recently published the results of our 2016 survey on the social media use of student-athletes. Thanks to the more than 1300 college athletes from every level of competition who took the time to take part in the survey. If you are a coach or administrator, take some time to dig through the numbers. It’s our 4th year to do this survey and the information, we believe, is really valuable. It gives us good insight into this group as it regards to their social media habits.
Some highlights/takeaways from the results
Each year since 2013 we’ve compiled survey results from college athletes about their social media use. As we spend time on campuses around the country, it’s important that we continue to pay attention to trends in the platforms they use and their behavior on these platforms. The information is also important to coaches and administrators as they are the ones spending time each day with the players. The more informed they can be, the better and more relevant their conversations around this topic will be. We can’t have coaches out there trying to have a conversation about the use of MySpace and expect student-athletes to pay attention. You can see the results from 2013 here, 2014 here and last year here.
We collected responses over the last few weeks. In total, we have over 1300 student-athletes respond. We’ll analyze the results in a later post, but here are the numbers.
What does every coach want? For his or her team to be as healthy as possible to produce wins and create a winning culture. The same is true inside each department. What if we focused the same amount of energy to help grow each team member to their highest possible level, while creating a culture where everyone plays in their sweet spot? What would that look like? What impact would that have on your team and athletics department?
That’s the idea of a 100X Leader. That is what we intend to help you do.
As we head full speed into a new year, it’s always good to step back and reflect on the previous year. To understand where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going. And, hopefully, to celebrate. Thanks to you, 2015 brought us many reasons to celebrate.
Kirk Herbstreit, in my opinion, is one of the best analysts in college football. He knows his stuff, he relates well to fans, he let’s you know where he stands, and he has fun. I’m a big fan. That said, Kirk – and the media members, coaches and administrators who agree with him – needs to re-evaluate his position on student-athletes using social media. Kirk went on ESPN Radio this morning on the Mike & Mike show. When asked what advice he would give to coaches, he had this to say (courtesy of 247 Sports):
“My recommendation in the future for all coaches – and I don’t know if you could control this – is get players away from social media; college players,” Herbstreit said. “Because what I find is it’s counterproductive. And I know it’s freedom of speech and you guys should get on this topic some time. And I don’t know how you’d control it. But I’ve never seen a team as active as Ohio State on social media and kind of going back-and-forth, whether it’s the fans, or media, or whatever it might be.
“You can say it doesn’t affect you, but at the end of the day it does. I would do everything in my power if I were a coach in today’s climate to say, ‘Hey guys, camp starts August 1 and your phones and social media, they get put on the sidelines until we’re done playing. You’re not going to engage. You’re not going to get involved. Because there’s nothing good that comes out of that.’
“I think in some weird way, that may have had some sort of impact on Ohio State, because those guys, they were tweeting more than they were practicing it seemed like sometimes. Those guys were really, really active – and kind of cute – on social media. And they need to put that away. All teams, in my mind, needs to put that stuff away.”
“It’s not always what they tweet out and what they send, it’s what they read and what people can say to them is the thing I have a problem with.”
Many things keep administrators up at night. One of those things, not surprisingly, is what their student-athletes are doing online. “What are they posting? Who will see it? Will I get an email at 2:00 in the morning about it? Will I wake up to find one of our players on Deadspin for something she tweeted?”
What players post is out of the control of administrators and coaches – no matter what policies you have in place. It’s one of the main reasons social media education is so important. Given how much time college students spend online, and how much of a magnifying glass is on what student-athletes post, we must be intentional to educate, equip and empower them to use it well.
In our leadership sessions with teams and departments, we use a tool to decrease gossip and drama. It’s a visual tool that asks 3 questions.
Today we have a guest post from our friend Morgan Crutchfield. Morgan is a writer and photographer who studies the dynamics of social media and sports. Find her on Twitter @CentralMorgan. Enjoy!
Social Media can be a scary thing to tackle as a coach; the need to address athletes’ social media usage may be overwhelmed by fear of failure to cover all the issues or intimidation related to opening a Pandora’s Box by talking about social at all. Attempts to create guidelines start to look like exercises in making long lists of don’ts and the ever-changing landscape of apps and platforms seems to create more work and more room for error. But as we learn more about athletes’ relationships with their teammates and peers, we’re learning that a restrictive social media plan is not only not effective for teams, it fails to capitalize on the power of positive social.
While there is certainly value in setting boundaries with your players and possibly even providing examples of social media disasters to prove the point, educating on what not to do should only be a small part of the plan. Because while social media can be a gateway to some exceptionally negative consequences for athletes who use it only as a megaphone for poorly thought-out posts, it can also be an incredibly powerful set of tools to help athletes build both team unity and self image.
Where should you start? Like any skill on the field, wise social media use starts with practice, so I’ve developed a “drill” that will help your athletes understand how to use social media for good and at the same time will utilize the networks they’re on for hours at a time .
Blueprint: a detailed plan of how to do something
We talk a lot about social media use of college athletics departments, and of course how student-athletes and staff use the various social media platforms. We tweet out a lot of links to something inspiring that one department did, or something unique that another program published. These ideas help to get creative juices flowing, to see what works for others that might work for you. The problem is that, without an actual strategy, none of these are really helpful. You don’t just throw graphics or videos or stories up independently of one another. Each has a place in your overall brand story, each serves a purpose in establishing and furthering your voice. You got a lot of RTs on that great pic but what now? That funny YouTube video you posted went viral, but you didn’t have a plan in place to capture that momentum. You are doing social media, but you aren’t really doing social media.
In our visits to over 80 athletics departments and conferences, we ask a lot of questions and learn about where people are succeeding and where they are struggling when it comes to social media.
These discussions (along with our work with athletics organizations and studying the social media industry as a whole) resulted in a presentation that we’ve given over the past two years at a number of events, on creating a blueprint for social media success in college sports.
When it comes to our digital and social media efforts, we’re all in search of compelling content. The perfect image, the emotional video, the perfectly-timed GIF or Vine. “What will our fans respond to?” “What will resonate with them?” “What story can we tell?”
This is a commendable and necessary pursuit. We’re a visual society. Images and videos win. They capture our attention, stir up emotion and can cause us to take action. Keep pursuing that.
Where most teams/brands/organizations go wrong on social media is in the area of listening and responding. A recent study by Socialbakers showed that 80% of US companies don’t respond to questions on Twitter. 60% don’t respond on Facebook. [insert facepalm GIF]
876,000. Do a Google search for “How to reach Millennials” and that’s the amount of results you get. Spend any time on social media, at conferences (sports and otherwise) or in marketing meetings and that topic is guaranteed to come up. I’ve been lucky enough to address this topic on panels at a few conferences. It is the question of the year right now and everybody is searching for answers.
The problem is that asking how we “reach” Millennials is the wrong question. To reach an audience isn’t difficult. You’ve chased Millennials from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter to Instagram to Vine to Snapchat to _______. You are reaching them but you aren’t engaging with them (as a result, they aren’t engaging with you). We put so much effort on this idea of “reach” that we miss out on the fact that Millennials, like any other generation, are people. People who want to be heard, to be interacted with, to be cared about, to belong. They don’t want to be sold to (who does?), they want to be a part of what’s happening.