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Why Coaches Should Embrace Social Media

When we are on campus doing social media education sessions with student-athletes, we also do sessions with coaches and staff. Part of that is to better equip them to have meaningful conversations with their student-athletes about social media use, and part of it is to help them understand how/why they should be active on social media. Slowly but surely, coaches are coming around to the idea that it is beneficial for them to be present on social media. For those who work in social media this seems like a no-brainer, but for many it is still a tough thing to embrace.

One of the topics we hit on with coaches is how powerful social media can be for recruiting. As Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops stated after he was asked why he created a Twitter account in 2012, “Strictly for recruiting. Got to. Gotta reach ’em.”

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It’s time to stop using Snapchat

I’ve sat staring at this screen, typing and deleting, for about 30 minutes. I’ve written probably 20 paragraphs and end up starting over again. And I keep simply coming back to this:

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Announcing new offerings through Fieldhouse Leadership

Three and a half years ago I began a journey. A journey that has taken me, along with friends/colleagues, to more than 65 collegiate campuses to talk with tens of thousands of student-athletes, as well as thousands of athletics administrators. Building and running Fieldhouse Media has been some of the most rewarding, difficult, exciting, stressful, beautiful times of my life. I’m tremendously encouraged about the road ahead for Fieldhouse, which has now become a full service digital strategy and training firm. 

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Protect what you’ve built

While on a recent trip to do social media training with student-athletes at Wichita State University. Before I spoke they had Jody Adams, head coach of their women’s basketball team, get up and speak about winning championships and what it meant to be a student-athlete at WSU.

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What if your athletics department stopped using social media?

I just returned from the NACDA and CoSIDA conventions in Orlando. A week full of networking, connecting and learning from the best in the business. As has been the norm over the past few years, social media was a hot topic. There were a number of panels dedicated to discussing social media, from how to engage with fans to getting your story out to the media to handling it on a personal level – and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s a topic that, truth be told, could use its own conference.

The good news is that athletics departments are continuing to rethink their goals and strategies on social media. We are constantly examining our approach, measuring results and adjusting as needed. There’s a desire to do more and to be better.

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Noisemaking vs Storytelling

100,500.

According to a recent study by OneSpot, that is the average number of digital words consumed every day by the average US citizen.

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Who are you creating for?

After weeks or months of planning, you finally launch a new campaign on social media that your department is pumped about. You saw another program do something similar, saw how successful it was for them and thought this would be great for your fans as well.

You launch, and your mentions on Twitter are filled with peers from athletic departments across the country, praising how great your idea is. They are sharing it, asking about the process behind it and looking to copy it. You’re feeling great. Your hard work is being noticed.

Then you check to see what your fans are saying. They have to love it, right? Engagement must to be through the roof. You just know that they’ll be commenting, sharing, retweeting, replying, clicking.

Nothing. It seems that the only people who thought your idea was great are your peers. So what happened? It worked for another university, so why not you?

Wisconsin can see what Auburn did on social media and do the same thing. That idea, after all, will be unique to Wisconsin fans. They might see something Miami did and think, “Wow, that’s amazing. How can we do that but better?” We live in a copycat industry, and that’s perfectly ok. What works for Auburn might be great for Wisconsin. It might spur Wisconsin to get creative and innovative and make the idea even better. (The use of Auburn, Wisconsin and Miami are completely random here, by the way)

But here’s the thing. What worked great for Auburn or Miami might not work at all for Wisconsin. Why? Audience.static.squarespace-2

IMAGE COURTESY OF MARTIN FISCH, CREATIVE COMMONS 

Recognition from our peers is great. It makes us feel good – especially after we’ve put in the time and energy to launch what we think is a great idea. But our peers aren’t our audience. That seems obvious, but too often we launch ideas, campaigns, platforms, promotions without putting our fans first. We’re thinking about our fans, of course, but we’re not catering to them. As a result, the ideas fail. It’s not that they were bad ideas or bad content. They just weren’t great for the intended audience.

We’ve had a lot of conversations with programs lately about social media strategy, and many times the conversation quickly turns to what another program has done. That’s not a bad thing – we can always learn from other programs – but it has to start with your fans.

What works for your fans? What content is valuable and resonates with them? What causes them to act? The only way to know is to talk to them, listen to them, test and measure and test again. Know your audience like the back of your hand.

It doesn’t matter how awesome your idea was if it didn’t connect with your audience. Don’t let your work go to waste. Remember who you are creating for.

Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletic departments get the most out of their social media efforts. To find out more about us or to join the more than 60 schools utilizing our services for their athletics department, contact us today.

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