We know student-athletes use social media. In 2019, I hope that’s not a surprise to you. But how are they using it? And why? Is it actually as bad for them as everyone makes it out to be? What if it could be use for good?
For the last 9 years, we’ve traveled the country to help them use it with purpose and positivity. We’ve been on more than 210 campuses and educated over 110,000 student-athletes. We’ve equipped them to build their brand intentionally, to use social media to get and build a career, we’ve discussed the impact on their mental health and how to handle cyberbullying, we’ve empowered them to use their voice for something bigger than themselves.
6 years ago, we decided not just to talk, but to listen. To survey collegiate athletes at every level about their social media use. You can see results from 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. This year we had over 2300 student-athletes participate. This information is useful for administrators, to help you understand how and why this generation of athletes uses social media, but it is also helpful for us as educators. This data informs how we structure our sessions and messages to student-athletes, in order to be relevant and connect with them in a way that has a true impact. This is how we have become and continue to be the most trusted resource when it comes to educating student-athletes on social media use, and why more than 210 programs have utilized our services in the past 9 years to educate, equip and empower college athletics on social media.
The reality is that there is still a significant need for social media education. And it looks different for this generation of student-athletes than it did the previous generation. They’ve grown up with social media, but that doesn’t mean they understand how and why to use it well. That only comes through intentional education from someone who actually understands and uses social media as well as the mindset and habits of not just college students, but college student-athletes.
Here are the results of our 2019 survey on the social media use of college athletes.
Level of competition
98% have an account
49% say they use it less than they did one year ago
37% check it at least 5 times per day, without posting
98% post less than 5 times per day
94% use it to keep up with friends and family
72% use it for entertainment
37% use it to get updates on news
19% use it for school work
67% have more than 500 Facebook friends
34% have posted something inappropriate (profanity, racial, sexual, drugs/alcohol, violence)
73% utilize Facebook’s privacy settings
86% “like” a brand page on Facebook
93% have an account
72% check it more than 5 times per day, without tweeting
43% tweet between 1- 5 times per day
8% tweet more than 10 times per day
43% have more than 1000 followers
72% have a public account
47% use it for entertainment
43% use it to get news updates
27% use it to connect with friends and family
9% have shared personal information on Twitter (phone number, email address, etc)
31% have tweeted (or retweeted) something inappropriate (profanity, racial, sexual, drugs/alcohol, violence)
10% have received hateful/critical tweets from fans
3% have responded to hateful/critical tweets from fans
82% follow a brand on Twitter
99% have an account
87% have a private account
60% check it more than 10 times per day, without posting
39% check it between 5 and 10 times per day, without posting
93% post between 1 and 5 times per day
100% use it to keep up with friends and family
78% use it for entertainment
25% use it to get updates on news
15% have posted something inappropriate (profanity, racial, sexual, drugs/alcohol, violence)
21% have a Finstagram (fake/secondary Instagram account)
88% follow a brand on Instagram
93% have an account
70% send more than 10 snaps per day
29% use it to stay updated on news
91% use it for entertainment
87% use it to keep up with friends and family
68% have posted something inappropriate (profanity, racial, sexual, drugs/alcohol, violence)
52% have posted something inappropriate during this last school year
17% have sent snaps to someone they don’t know
67% have received snaps from someone they don’t know
70% have more than 50 friends on Snapchat
64% believe Snapchat is private
11% follow a brand on Snapchat
Which social media platform do you use the most?
Which social media platform is your favorite?
In addition to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, what social media platforms do you regularly use?
Facebook Messenger: 81%
80% spend at least 1 hour per day on social media
41% spend more than 2 hours per day on social media
93% said they receive mostly positive comments on social media
88% said overall, social media has a positive impact on their life
53% say they’ve had no social media training
48% say they’ve posted something online they regret
19% have witnessed a teammate being cyber-bullied on social media
28% have checked social media during one of their games
7% have posted to social media during one of their games
41% believe their social media activity is being monitored by their athletics department
19% have been disciplined by a coach or administrator for a social media post
21% have engaged in a romantic relationship online
67% have met someone offline that they first interacted with on social media
35% have used social media to network for a job or internship
Fieldhouse Media is an award-winning firm dedicated to helping athletics departments get the most out of their social media efforts, from educating and training student-athletes, coaches and administrators, to providing an overall department strategy. To find out more about us or to join the more than 210 schools utilizing our services for their athletics department, contact ustoday.
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.
Last week we published the results of our latest survey, looking at the social media use of college athletes. With nearly 1000 participants, the data gave us a good look into where this group is spending their time online. There are a few takeaways from the data as it relates to both the education of student-athletes on social media and how we reach this audience from a marketing and communications perspective.
In terms of education, we’re seeing that 43% spend more than an hour on social media each day with 37% of them saying they’ve posted something regret. Meanwhile, 45 have had zero training/education on social media use. This plays out in that 48% believe Yik Yak is anonymous and 41% have posted something inappropriate on Snapchat, which implies that they believe that it is private and pictures actually disappear.
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.
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. Critics call them out, models call them up to what they’re capable of being.
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 130 schools utilizing our services for their athletics department, contact us today.