In a recent blog post, I wrote about how social media education is more than just what to tweet and what not to tweet. That it’s about leadership and character development. About helping student-athletes understand the impact of their decisions, both online and off. About giving student-athletes a purpose for using social media well, beyond simply avoiding a meeting with the coach or compliance department. When you strip it all down, for student-athletes (or anybody) to be “successful” on social media, they have to answer two questions:
Who am I?
What do I want to be known for?
That’s it. Those two questions direct and guide not just how you use social media, but how you live your life. Like an athlete, your strength comes from your core. These questions get to the core of who you are, guiding how you approach relationships, your work, your family . Social Media is just one piece of that puzzle. An extension of you.
As social media continues to make it’s way into our everyday life, more schools are realizing the need for social media education – for both their student-athletes and their coaches/athletic staff. They are realizing that their student-athletes are an extremely public extension of the athletic department, with their tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram pics and even “disappearing” snaps available to the viewing public. Clearly this is a good thing, educational institutions investing in education. The problem has been in the approach. Too often, athletic departments have approached social media education from a compliance perspective. “Don’t tweet this, don’t post that, don’t do this, don’t get in trouble, don’t make a scene online, etc.” It’s essentially a surgeon general’s list of risks.
The problem with that approach is that warnings don’t result in productive behaviors. Telling a student-athlete what not to tweet isn’t the same as showing them what it means to use Twitter (or any other platform) well. I know not to take my eye off the ball during my golf swing, but how can I actually improve my swing?
Social Media education for student-athletes is not a session on, “tweet this, not that.” Social Media education is about character development. It’s about understanding what it means to make good decisions on a daily basis, not just online but offline. It’s about realizing the impact that our decisions have, and that we have control over our reputation.
Oklahoma City, OK (April 12, 2013) Last night, Fieldhouse Media founder Kevin DeShazo was honored as an Innovator of the Year by the Journal Record. He received this honor for FieldTrack, the social media monitoring platform that Fieldhouse Media offers to university athletic departments. Launched in 2012, FieldTrack provides athletic departments with a non-invasive alternative to monitoring the social media activity of their student athletes and coaches. Explains DeShazo, “I looked at some of the other options available and, as a parent, these weren’t services that I would be comfortable being used for my child. So I got with our development team and said there has to be a better way to do this. There has to be a non-invasive way to approach monitoring. A way that will lead to better communication between staff and student athlete, a way that will facilitate education. With FieldTrack, we’ve done that.”
A web-based platform, FieldTrack monitors the public Twitter accounts of student athletes and staff, searching for potentially offensive and inappropriate words that could damage the reputation of the student-athlete, team, and university. Unlike other platforms, FieldTrack has no apps for student athletes and staff to install on their accounts, and never accesses private information. FieldTrack also works as an app on iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices, giving administrators a real-time view of what is happening online.
“Our development team put together an incredible product that looks great, is easy to use, and provides a valuable service to an athletic department. The most satisfying thing is seeing the impact that FieldTrack is having. Programs that are utilizing both FieldTrack and our on-site social media education sessions, are seeing a 41% daily drop in offensive/inappropriate tweets (*update October 2013: this number is now at 62%). Student athletes are realizing the power of social media, and the need to create a positive online identity.”
About Fieldhouse Media: Founded in 2011, Fieldhouse Media is a leader in social media education and monitoring for student-athletes. With the perspective that social media is a valuable and powerful tool, Fieldhouse Media partners with athletic departments to educate student-athletes on how to use social media in a positive way. Through FieldTrack, they monitor social media activity to help protect the online image of student-athletes. Fieldhouse Media has partnered with over 30 university athletic departments, and has been featured in the New York Times, ESPN.com, USA Today and a number of other national news outlets. Founder Kevin DeShazo has presented at a number of events, including the NCAA Convention, CoSIDA, and the Collegiate Athletics Leadership Symposium.
To learn more about Fieldhouse Media, contact them at:
Over the last 18 months, the debate over the social media privacy of student athletes has heated up, beginning when Maryland became the first state to introduce legislation that would protect online privacy. That bill failed, but has since been re-introduced.
Since that time, California, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah, Arkansas, Oregon, Illinois andWisconsin have all passed and signed bills to protect the online privacy of students/student-athletes. Several other states (Kansas, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Louisiana, Rhode Island, North Carolina and Hawaii, to name a few) have similar bills pending.
Even the federal government is getting involved, as they have reintroduced the Social Networking Online Protection Act (SNOPA).
There have been a number of studies and surveys done on social media use, most of which are terrific, detailed and informative. Many show the social media statistics of college students but none, at least that I’ve found, focused specifically on student-athletes. Given that the focus of Fieldhouse Media is on student-athletes, I wanted information and statistics specific to this group. Earlier this year, I distributed a survey to a number of collegiate athletic administrators, to then forward on to their student-athletes. I owe an immense gratitude to the administrators who encouraged their student-athletes to participate – nearly 300 student-athletes responded. Some were from major BCS programs, some were from mid-majors, while nearly half were from DII or DIII schools.
Something to keep in mind while reading these results are the recent data provided by Football Scoop oncollege football coaches use of social media, and CoSIDA on how athletic departments are approaching the topic of social media and their student-athletes.
A few takeaways from these results (some of which I was admittedly surprised by).
- In February 2012, 20% of 18-24 year olds were “using” Twitter on a typical day. In this survey, just one year later, 72% of student-athletes have a Twitter account. 97.4% of student-athletes with a Twitter account are tweeting daily. That’s significant.
- In light of the Manti Te’o situation, it was interesting to see that 4.6% of student-athletes admit to engaging in romantic relationship with somebody online, and 25.9% said they have met somebody in person that they first interacted with on social media.
- Nearly 1 in 5 (17.6%) have used social media to network/connect for a job or internship. That’s encouraging.
- 50.9% say they’ve received no social media education/training (in the CoSIDA survey, ~56% said they don’t provide social media education)
Much has been made of the Manti Te’o situation. With him being the face of Notre Dame football this season, that is to be expected. I wanted to wait until we heard his side, which we now have, before choosing to write about it, and what it means for student-athletes on social media, and how universities/athletic departments approach it.
This post won’t be about whether or not his story is believable. It won’t be a story judging his character.
For those unfamiliar, (former) Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o was the apparent victim of an internet hoax referred to as Catfishing – when a person pretends they are someone they are not, usually on social media, in order to deceive someone. Most of you will remember his trying season, when in the span of a few hours he lost his Grandmother and girlfriend. It was an incredible narrative. Now it turns out that his girlfriend, who he “met” online, was in fact not real. Never existed. Fittingly, news of the story as I was sitting on a panel at theNCAA Convention, discussing student-athletes and social media.
[UPDATE: As of January 2013, the NCAA has done away with the Student-Athlete Affairs Grant and discontinued the Speakers Registry] Great news! Kevin DeShazo, founder of Fieldhouse Media, has been added to the NCAA Speakers Registry for social media education. This means that you can now apply for and use your Student-Athlete Affairs Grant funds for social media education.
Of those listed in the registry for social media education, Kevin is one of only two who actually use Twitter.
For quite some time, athletic departments have been intentional about working with their student-athletes on how to deal with the media. Many programs will bring in outside specialists to speak with students on this topic. They’ll address issues such as handling yourself in a press conference, journaling essential pointers before talking to a journalist for a story in the paper, interviewing with a sports reporter for a spot during the 6:00 news, etc. They will go through a number of scenarios that a player may face throughout the course of the season, preparing them to represent both themselves and the university in a positive, confident, intelligent fashion. Without question, this is a terrific and necessary service. There is a misperception, however, that media training is the same as social media training – or even worse, the firms who provide media training are adding 5-10 minutes to the end of their presentation to discuss social media, and labeling it “social media training.”
The two topics couldn’t be more different – and the skillset needed to properly educate student-athletes on each are just as unique.
Another day, another column about how student-athletes should be banned from Twitter. This time, fromBleacher Report. This is a topic we discussed at CoSIDA. Banning social media is a strategy that is not only ineffective, but is based out of fear and lack of education. Address the lack of education, eliminate the fear. This quote from the column struck me:
Ultimately, Twitter is a great tool for many. It will continue to be a major news source for college football going forward.
For student athletes though, it’s more drama then universities, fans and coaches need.
Twitter is great, but not for you, student-athlete. You shouldn’t use it. You’re incapable of using it well. You’re just going to create problems.
Each week I’m lucky enough to have conversations with Athletics Directors and SIDs from across the country – from D1 powers to NAIA and D3 programs. One of the first questions I ask when discussing their student-athletes and social media is, “How well are your student-athletes using social media?” The answer is always some form of the following:
- They do a great job. We haven’t had to discipline anybody.
- I think they do a good job. We haven’t had any major issues yet.
- I’m in awe of the things they post online. They definitely need help.
- We’ve had a couple of issues. Once we adjust our policy, I expect things will change.
Notice a trend? We are defining success for our student-athletes on social media as “not getting in trouble”. Is that the correct perspective?