How are we determining success for student athletes on social media?
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?
We don’t tell a Running Back, after a game where he rushes 20 times for 25 yards, “Hey, no fumbles today. Solid game.” Eliminating fumbles is part of what makes a successful RB, but it is not the determining factor.
When it comes to student-athletes and social media, we’re asking the wrong question. It’s not about eliminating “issues”. Do we want to eliminate mistakes, violations, and instances that can damage their reputation? Of course. But doing so does not mean we’ve helped them use social media in a way that matters. Millions use Twitter in a way that will never result in them losing their job. That doesn’t mean they are using it in a positive and meaningful way.
The amount of content shared on Twitter every day is overwhelming. Add that in with all the ads we see on websites, Facebook, TV, the radio. That’s a lot of noise. The goal for student-athletes online is to add value, not noise. A student-athlete can tweet about Justin Bieber 20 times a day and not get in trouble. From a compliance perspective, all things look good. But they’ve also not added any value to their image, or that of the program and university. They’ve just created noise.
The question we need to be asking is, “Are our student-athletes using social media to develop a positive name for themselves and our program? Are they using it with purpose?”
Imagine the impact that has if you are a student-athlete. Instead of believing your coach/team rep is waiting for you to screw up online, you know you have an advocate in your corner. Somebody that, while acknowledging and discussing the mistakes, is more concerned about you establishing successful online habits that impact both your today and your tomorrow.
A change in perspective can change everything.
Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to educating student-athletes and coaches on how to use social media in a positive, appropriate way. To find out more about us or to join the growing list of schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.
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