Blog

4 ways student athletes can deal with haters on social media

One of the arguments against allowing student-athletes to use social media is how accessible it makes them to fans. Fan, of course, is short for fanatic. To say that people are passionate about sports would be quite the understatement. Online, that passion and fanaticism can and is taken to extreme, and sometimes flat out disturbing levels. We’ve seen “fans” wish death upon athletes through Twitter, call them racial slurs, tell them they are horrible and should give up their scholarship, and any number of other criticisms you can imagine.

Tweets like this are unacceptable. I’m no legal expert, but I firmly believe that legal action should be taken when somebody threatens to take a gun and 30 bullets to a team bus. This is something the Supreme Court is actually considering.

It’s the ugly side of Twitter for many public figures. In an article on Mashable, Bill Voth of Spiracle Media, who works with a number of professional athletes, had this to say about the topic, “Trolls are getting louder and more powerful, and I think ultimately this is one of the biggest threats to Twitter itself.” He’s right. Student-athletes are humans (and, for the most part, kids). Nobody deserves this type of abuse. If something isn’t done, it may drive public figures away from the platform.

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How many social media platforms should you be on?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest. The list of social media platforms you can be on is seemingly endless. Every time a new one pops up and gains traction, brands start foaming at the mouth about how they “engage” on this new platform.

“They already have 40 million users!”

“That demographic is exactly who we need to reach!”

“If you ain’t first, you’re last!”

To be fair, brands should do their due diligence. You don’t want to get too comfortable with where you are and miss out on what could be a legitimate opportunity to add real, measurable value to your fans. But too often, brands have FOMO (fear of missing out). As a result, we stretch ourselves too thin.

To create a presence on a new platform requires us to take time and resources away from our current platforms. As a result we end up being average, at best, on many platforms and great on none. Average, of course, isn’t what we are looking for. Average doesn’t cut it. Your fans don’t want or deserve average.

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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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