Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Using Social Media to Enhance Your Program
The problem is that social media is not going anywhere and we can't stop it. As much as we would like to we cannot ban players from Facebook and Twitter, it just isn't feasible or realistic for us to try. You can bury your head in the sand to escape but it's not going to help. So why not embrace it as a tool? In the right hands Facebook and Twitter can be a great asset for your program. It can help to brand your program as well as communicate effectively with your parents and players.
More and more coaches and programs are jumping on Twitter and for good reason. With Twitter you can really brand your program by what you put out there.You have the ability to control the perception of your program through what you post. Chances are your parents, players, fans, opposing coaches, and community members will follow you to keep up on what you are doing. The information you put out there is going to make a huge difference in how the world views you - for better or worse.
Twitter also allows you to communicate directly with your players and parents. You can post open gym dates and times, changes to schedules, camps, articles, motivational quotes/stories/thoughts, websites, basically any information you want your players to see. It also allows you to promote the achievements of your players in season and in the offseason. You can also use it to show your personality as a coach. Many coaches with strong program communication use twitter as an additional resource.
Twitter can also help you to link past to present. Any good program acknowledges it's traditions. Having a twitter account allows your alumni to see what and how you are doing, comment on your season (positives hopefully), comment on their positive experiences with your program, as well as share updates on their lives - from scoring 20 in a college game to having their first child. It's a great way to make your program the kind of program that spans the generations.
If you have some questions about using twitter for your program, I would recommend following these Minnesota coaches to see how they utilize it. There are a bunch more I could list, just pulled the first number I saw.
Having a team Facebook page can be a great way to keep in contact with your players. It's important to keep the team page private and only accessible to the players. That way you can keep it all in house. We did this at St. Croix Prep and it works really well for them. Coach Liesener posts videos, notes, scouting reports, game keys, schedules, schedule changes, bus times, motivational readings, workouts, etc on the site. It also allows the players to communicate with the coaches and with each other. The benefit is that most kids live on Facebook so they know immediately when something is posted. It also gives them a venue to talk about the team and even vent at times. But it's better to talk about frustrations where only the team can see it.
Along with twitter, blogs are a great way to keep families up to date. I used one the summer I was at South Tama and it was a great way to keep everyone posted on what was going on with the program. There is a limit to what you can put up there, but for posting schedules, notices, and such it is great. It's also a great place to put your game reports, newspaper reports, motivational pieces, etc for your players to read. If you can get them to check it daily it becomes a great way to send a message to them!
Social Media Cautions
Of course, with all the good you have the bad, below are a few quick things to avoid. You might laugh, but I've seen these things happen and it's not pretty.
1. Don't let your frustrations with your team, a player, or a parent out on social media.
2. Don't get into an argument with a player, fan, or parent.
3. Keep team issues in house and not on social media.
4. Don't gloat and give others bulletin board material.
These are three easy things to do, but at times we do forget.
Hopefully you've all already embraced social media and don't need this article. But for those of you that haven't started yet - you need to get on the bus!