On Social Media, Student Athletes Need Models Instead of Critics

Student-Athletes have a lot of critics. From fans to media to opponents, even parents and coaches can, at times, be critics. It seems everyone has an opinion on what they should do. When it comes to shaping behavior, what they really need are models. Critics tell them what not to do, while models show them what to do. 

At practice, coaches spend a significant amount of time reinforcing good technique, good habits, good decisions. If you continually tell a player to not drop the pass, they end up focusing so much on not dropping the pass that, of course, they drop the pass. There's so much tension and anxiety around not screwing up.

Instead, we coach them on what needs to happen in order to reach the desired goal of catching the pass. We focus on good route-running skills, timing and proper hand position. When they drop it, we step out and show them how it's done so that they can see it. They can visualize it. We model the right way to do it. Then we send them back out to practice it over and over until it becomes second nature to simply catch the pass. The fear of dropping it is no longer there. 

When it comes to social media, too often we are doing the exact opposite. We are coaching them on what not to do, continually criticizing their poor behavior and decisions. We bring in speakers who are unfamiliar with social media, who only know the negative side of it and try to instill in them a fear of messing up. We have coaches who don't use the platforms preaching that same message. They only thing they know about social media is what not to do. When that's all you are focused on, you are bound to slip up.  

What student-athletes need on social media are models. Someone to guide them on how to use social media well, to help them develop goals for their social media use. Leaders who can explain what that looks like and why that matters. Someone who uses it often and can show them how powerful social media can be when used with a purpose. They need coaches, staff members, people in the community and business world to follow online who can show them what it means to use social media for more than just talking to your friends. People they can learn from and model their social media behavior after. 

As educators, it is our job to model. To preach purpose over fear. To prepare them for success online. We have the opportunity to shape how they view and use social media. Are we taking the best approach?

To quote John Wooden, "young people need models, not critics. 

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

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. They won 8 conference titles last year and she was acknowledging that they, as a program, have a target on their back.

"Protect what you've built." That was her challenge to them. It was powerful statement, one that resonated with me beyond the realm of sports. 

As individuals, your freshman student-athletes have an identity, a reputation. They were recruited for their skills but they were also recruited for their character. They've worked most of their young lives to get to this point. One emotional tweet, one unfiltered Facebook post, one immature Instagram picture, one offensive snap sent on Snapchat and that can all be undone. They have to be intentional with their social media use. They have to protect what they've built. 

Your non-freshman players have been on campus for at least a year. They've been working, practicing, executing on the playing field and in the classroom. They've won championships, they've helped rebuild programs. They represent athletics departments and universities with proud traditions. Their actions, on and off the field, matter. What they do on social media is being watched. Watched by teammates, coaches, administration, fellow students, the community, fans, opponents, media, family, potential employers. They are men and women of character, trying to establish themselves in this world - both as athletes and as individuals. Social Media can play a huge role in helping that, but they also need to be mindful to protect what they've built. 

There's a lot of weight on the shoulders of collegiate student-athletes. At a young age they are expected to represent teammates, coaches, administrators, the university and the community on social media. That's not always a natural or easy thing. That's not something most of us have ever had to deal with, especially when you add social media to the mix. 

We have to walk alongside them. We have to educate them, guide them, mentor and prepare them. We have to help them to protect what they've built

 

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

Are you building a community or an audience?

Audience:

A group you give information to.
A group you talk at, not with.
A group you are separated from.
Requires no participation.
 

Community:

A group you listen and respond to.
A group who shares your passion.
A group you get from as much as you give to.
A group where more than the one with the microphone contributes.
 

To build an audience is quite easy these days. To build a community is hard. It requires you to be intentional, to be present. An audience listens to you while a community engages and moves with you. A community has a purpose.

When it comes to your digital and social media efforts, you can build an audience or you can build a community. Which are you building?

 

Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletics 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.
 

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.

At the end of the day it boils down to creating memorable content on social media for your fans - students, parents, community, alumni, potential students. Content that stirs up emotion, causes them to act (click, share, buy, etc) and makes them feel more connected. One way to evaluate this is to ask ourselves a tough question:

Would anybody notice if you stopped posting to your social media accounts?

Are we creating content that matters, that connects and has a purpose or are we just filling up timelines because we think we are supposed to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc?

We are fighting for the attention of our fans, trying to stand out above the noise rather than simply add to it. That's no easy task. To do that, we must create unforgettable content. Content that keeps them coming back for more. 
 

Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletics 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.

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. For perspective, here are the word counts of some of the greatest novels in history:

To Kill a Mockingbird:     99,121
A Tale of Two Cities:       135, 420
The Catcher in the Rye:   73,404
The Hobbit:                     95,022
(source: commonplacebook.com)

Process that for a moment. We read a novel every single day. A novel made up of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds. Of blog posts and news articles, emails and texts.  

This is the battle you face in regards to getting the attention of your fans. You are competing, every day, with the great American novel of noise. 

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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? 

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New Research on Social Media Monitoring of Student-Athletes

New Research on Social Media Monitoring of Student-Athletes

We know student-athletes are not fond of the negative approach to social media education, but what about monitoring? According to Sanderson and Browning, "participants also collectively expressed skepticism about social media monitoring." Before we go forward, monitoring doesn't have to be outsourced to a company like ours. Following somebody on social media is monitoring them. Adding them to a Twitter list is monitoring them. We've talked with journalists who have a Twitter list of student-athletes from the university they cover, scrolling through it constantly to see if there is anything newsworthy or controversial. Somebody is always watching.

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Social Media Education for College Athletes - Is it working?

This weekend the 2014 Summit for International Association for Communication and Sport took place in New York. It was a fantastic event with an incredible amount of research presented, from social media and image rehabilitation, media coverage of scandals, sports media in the digital age and more. One paper discussed was the research of professors Jimmy Sanderson (Clemson) and Blair Browning (Baylor). Sanderson and Browning examined how college athletes perceive social media training. 

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Fieldhouse Media founder Kevin DeShazo to present at NAIA Convention

Fieldhouse Media founder Kevin DeShazo has been invited to present at the NAIA Convention next month. He will discuss the increasingly important issues surrounding social media and college athletics, specifically the need for educating student-athletes and staff on social media use and how programs can utilize social media to their benefit.

Details of the session:

Details for the convention can be found here.

We are thrilled to be a part of the NAIA Convention and look forward to seeing you there!

 

Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletic departments get the most out of their social media efforts, from educating student-athletes and staff to providing an overall strategy. To find out more about us or to join the over 50 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.

What story are you telling on social media?

What story are you telling on social media?

Too often we jump into social media, whether in our overall strategy or as we move into a new season, without stopping to think about who we are and where we are going. This may be due to a perceived lack of time, resources, information or all of the above. We know we are going to tweet out scores, post some pictures on Facebook and Instagram, maybe throw in a few YouTube videos where we chat with players. We head out hoping to get retweets, replies, likes, shares, comments and clicks. That's the goal, right?

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Is social media poison for student-athletes?

Is social media poison for student-athletes?

Rick Pitino has been in the headlines this week for his take on social media as it pertains to athletes. In a quote shared by FoxSports, Pitino said, "I think anybody who reads social media who’s in sports is not all there. To me, I think it’s the great class of underachievers who live on the Internet with social media. I think it’s people that waste their time, and underachieve because they're not paying attention to what they should be." This was retweeted and overreacted to by many, myself included. Turns out Pitino was talking about those who spew hatred and racism at student-athletes. Clearly, on that point, he's right. 

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