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:

For my friends in higher education and college athletics, it’s time to stop using Snapchat as a marketing tool to reach students. We must be educators (and parents and coaches) first, marketers last.

Snapchat is, of course, the sexy new tool (if we can still call it new). In the last year, brands/teams/schools have been rushing to the platform to reach the coveted teenage crowd. They throw stats at you like 77% of college students use it every day. 85% of their users are under 24. 700 million snaps are shared per day.

Enough numbers to make a marketer start salivating. Enough numbers to cause us to get no less than 3–5 calls each week from athletic departments wanting help with a Snapchat strategy. Calls that we’ve had to repeatedly end with, “Sorry, we won’t help you. Good luck.”

Enough numbers to make this opinion an unpopular one.

I’ve written enough about Snapchat from a marketing perspective (you can read all of those posts here). This isn’t about marketing, though. It’s not about trying new platforms to see if you can better reach an audience. It’s about setting an example, holding ourselves as educators to a higher standard about the message we send to students.

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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. 

Most of the time, as you are probably well aware, my conversations on campus are centered on social media, from educating student-athletes and staff to working with marketing and communications to develop a department strategy.

Somewhere along the line a new conversation started to take place, mostly with ADs and senior leaders. Over lunch or dinner or brief moments in their offices, we would begin to discuss what was happening in the department and in college athletics as a whole. I got to hear about their frustrations and challenges, as well as their hopes and dreams.

I was no longer just the “social media guy.”

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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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Noisemaking vs Storytelling


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


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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Fieldhouse Media adds social media consulting to its service offerings

In the past two and a half years we have spent time on over 50 campuses, presenting to over 30,000 student-athletes, coaches and staff members on how to use social media well. We have helped them understand not only how to tell their story and develop their reputation online, but why that is necessary. Today, we are excited to offer something that focuses on the athletic department as a whole.

While most athletic departments and conferences are utilizing social media, many still have questions – a lot of them. Questions about strategy, content, audience, purpose, return. You’ve heard it said that if athletics are the front porch of a university, social and digital media are the front porch of athletics. We believe that to be true. We also believe that, regardless of the size of your department or budget, you can make an impact with how you use social media.

Our team has over 15 years of combined experience in creating content online. From Fortune 500 companies to non-profits, CEOs to small business owners and individuals, we understand how to help brands succeed in the digital space.

You have a story to tell online. You have fans that want to engage in that story. We are excited to help you tell it.

Contact us today to learn more.

Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to helping student-athletes and coaches use social media in a positive, appropriate way through education and monitoring. To find out more about us or to join the over 50 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today


Social Media Use of Student Athletes: 2014 survey results

We recently conducted our second annual survey looking at the social media use of student-athletes, or what we call the iAthlete. You can read the results from last year here. Truth be told, we could do this survey several times per year given how often the social media landscape changes.

To the administrators who passed the survey on to their student-athletes, we can’t thank you enough. We had nearly 500 responses. This information helps us serve you better when we’re on campus doing our social media education sessions, and we hope that it is also useful for you as you interact with your student-athletes on this topic on a regular basis. Let’s get to it.


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