As social media continues to establish itself as a significant part of our daily lives, more and more college coaches are finding their way online – specifically, Twitter. A recent FootballScoop.com poll showed that 81% of college football coaches spend at least one hour on social media per day.
While a number of coaches are making the move, many are still hesitant. When doing social media education sessions on campuses, a majority of coaches acknowledge that they don’t use social media. Reasons vary from believing it’s a fad that will go away soon, thinking nobody cares what they are eating for lunch (the most common issue), or simply thinking that they don’t have time. Most of it, however, boils down to the fact that they they don’t understand it and as a result, don’t see the value in it.
If you’re a coach, imagine being able to instantly connect and send information to over 200 million people (rough estimate on active Twitter users). Now, 200 million people obviously aren’t that concerned about your program, so let’s make it a bit more realistic. Let’s use, for example, the Miami Hurricanes. Miami has over 32,000 followers on Twitter. That’s 32,000 people (fans, alums, current students, recruits, media) that have a direct interest in athletics at the University of Miami.
Back to being a coach. Imagine you could directly communicate with over 30,000 people who were legitimately interested in your program. You could share information to get fans excited about what’s happening with your team. Details that get donors encouraged about the direction and the future of the program. Highlight facilities and equipment (jerseys – the kids love jerseys). Give inside access to what it’s like to be a part of your program – information that is interesting to not only fans, but recruits and parents.
You would pay good money for that opportunity, right?
What if you could do it for free?
That’s the beauty and power of social media. An almost endless reach, for free.
I love this from Santa Ono, President at the University of Cincinnati. He’s talking about why CEO’s and university presidents should be on social media, but his points are great for coaches as well.
Coaches are the face of a team. In some cases, a coach may even be the most public face of an athletic department or university. Community interaction and involvement is crucial when it comes to fan support, and social media enables coaches to interact like never before. Some are doing a terrific job of this.
Mike Gundy, head football coach at Oklahoma State, is in the midst of a campaign called #AskGundy. Fans tweet questions using that hashtag, and he takes the time to answer them. The department has said he’ll answer up to three questions each day, for the foreseeable future. Fans are loving it, the media is talking about it, and it’s keeping Oklahoma State football in the spotlight during the offseason. Here’s a recent recap of Coach Gundy answering questions.
Florida’s assistant football coaches have been making headlines for a few months now for their creative social media use. They are using it to indirectly communicate with recruits, while at the same time getting the media to take notice. Here are some recent Instagram photos from WR coach Joker Phillips, who has been extremely creative in using the hashtag #ComePlayWRForTheJoker.
These are terrific ways for a coach to stand out to fans, the media, and recruits.
So why aren’t more utilizing it? I mentioned a few reasons earlier, but I think it boils down to two things: time and value. More specifically, they believe that they don’t have enough time and they don’t really understand social media. If they understood social media, they would understand it’s value to them. Let’s address both of those.
“I don’t have time for this stuff. Between practice and film and recruiting and my family, there’s not enough time in the day for tweeting.” I hear this all the time from coaches. And I don’t buy it.
I’ve not seen an experiment on this, so I just typed out a tweet (140 characters). It took 20 seconds. It was pure gibberish, so let’s say you put some thought into it and it takes you one minute. 60 seconds. It takes longer to fill your car up with gas. Saying you don’t have time is not an excuse.
Walking up to the field/court for a morning practice? Pull out your phone, take a quick picture, and tweet out, “Love the quiet time right before practice. A moment alone to get the mind right before we get down to business.” Seems simple enough, but fans love it. It didn’t distract you from your duties, didn’t impact your ability to run practice, didn’t take time away from your family.
Tim Miles, head basketball coach at the University of Nebraska, is famous for tweeting at halftime of games. After meeting with the team, and as they walk out onto the court to prepare for the second half, he’ll send out a tweet (technically, he has an assistant do it for him. Regardless, he could take the 30 seconds and do it himself).
You can make an impact on social media in less than 5 minutes per day. We always encourage coaches to tweet daily, preferably twice per day (once in the morning, once in the afternoon). Two tweets/posts/pictures. Two opportunities to excite your fans, to give the media something positive to right about, to give recruits something to think about. If we don’t have 5 minutes for that, we need to do a much better job of organizing our time.
Lack of Understanding
Coaches, I’m going to fill you in on a secret: Social Media isn’t rocket science. If you can type, you can tweet. There’s no right way to do it – everybody has a different purpose and a different personality. You just have to start.
Naturally, you first need to create an account. Have somebody from marketing work with you on getting a good profile picture, header and background. Here’s a great example from Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.
Next, start following people. Follow people in your athletic department, follow your student-athletes, follow reporters that cover your team and reporters that cover your sport nationally. Then find and follow other coaches. After you’ve followed 50 or so people, spend a couple of days just reading and learning. Watching TV? Open up your phone (or computer) and check Twitter. What are other coaches tweeting about? Learn from them. Mimic them – imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Once you’re comfortable with it, start sharing. Share insight into who you are not only as a coach, but as a person. As a husband/wife, dad/mom. Share the successes of your players, of student-athletes on other teams in your program. Share insight into games you’re watching – as a coach, you have a unique perspective on in-game action. Let fans see that (of course, don’t be critical of other coaches and players).
As time goes on, start interacting with people. Fans, media, other coaches.
Social media allows you the opportunity to impact conversation in a new way. It gives you power and influence and allows you to tell your story, and the story of your team and university. Take advantage of it.
Oh, and when it comes to tweeting about what you ate for lunch? You’re right, nobody does care. The solution is quite simple: don’t tweet about it.
What are some other ways coaches can use social media, and what coaches do you see using it well?
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 40 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.