Social Media is a DYNAMITE tool to help market your athletic programs! If used correctly, you can leverage the power of an unlimited audience to help grow your program’s image in your community, in your state, and maybe even nationwide.
I’ll never forget announcing to our student body in the Spring of 2011 that I had created a Twitter account for our athletic department. “The first 5 people to follow us right now get a free hat at our CIF baseball game on Thursday” I announced. The kids laughed at me! “Twitter is for old fogies” one kid yelled out. Interesting to think of 9 years later right?! Not many athletic programs had a program account back then. But it was fun for us to launch. That’s the same time I got on Twitter myself. Follow me! (Here is how I grew my personal account to more than 12,000 followers.)
It really hit me in 2012 when I met a collegiate coach on Twitter, and he recruited one of my players to his school. In fact, he was the FIRST player in a dozen years to earn even a scholarship from the football program I was working at, it was my first year there. And the reason this kid was introduced to the school who ended up really liking him was because I was promoting his film on my Twitter account! How rad is that? And guess how long it took me? 30 seconds! We have a unique ability today to promote our players to the next level like NEVER before. Take advantage of that if you are not already!
Nowadays, programs are using Snapchat, Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and more to name a few. And it is important for your program to use a few different outlets. Kids aren’t on Facebook much anymore, and parents aren’t on Snapchat, for the most part. So, if you want to get your message out there, if you want to get your program “out there,” you better use more than one avenue.
You need to create a strategy to use Social Media within your program. It has become WAY more than just having a coach run an account if you want to do it the most effective way. Colleges are now hiring Social Media Coordinators just for certain athletic programs, not the whole athletic department, but the football program itself! How great of a job would that be? But it all starts with a philosophy and a strategy and a plan. Have a plan!
For instance, I’ve listed a dozen ways below that you can leverage Social Media for your program. But if you aren’t organized, if you don’t create a systematic way to promote your program, you might end up all over the place without a real target. Sit down and map out what you want to promote. Which of these ideas below will you commit to for your program, and how are you going to make that happen? Perhaps you put one of your coordinators (if you’re a football coach) in charge of idea #4 – Highlighting New Equipment. Maybe your Offensive Line Coach is responsible for idea #8 – Highlighting Alumni. He only focuses on that aspect of your Social Media presence. This is what I mean by having a plan and a strategy to make the most out of your Social Media Presence.
Here are 12 ideas for using Social Media to promote your program.
1. Highlight players efforts on the field during the season
- Offensive Player of the Game
- Defensive Player of the Game
- Special Teams Player of the Game
- Scout Team Practice Player of the Week
- Strength and Conditioning Player of the Week
- Make sure to follow @CoachSteiny, a Southern CA Head Coach who does a great job using Twitter
2. Highlight players efforts off the field year round
- Academic Player of the Week
- Multiple sport athletes – pictures/videos of them playing other sports
- GPA highlights
- SAT/ACT results
- Working in the community
- Volunteer service in the community
- Other school awards they have earned
I enjoy following this Southern California Principal, Dr. Lawe, of the Eastvale STEM Academy because she is always highlighting positive things about kids on her page. This is the same thing coaches can do! Retweet what your school is promoting.
3. Use stats to highlight the program and players, specific units
- Compare your top stats to others in league, division, state, nation
- “Longest kick return in the state on Friday night!”
- Look for ways to maximize the stats in comparing/contrasting to others
- Break school records?
- “Offense produced more yards on Friday night than any school in the district, conference, state, etc”
4. Promote new equipment that the program has received
- Get new helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys? Show them off
- Show pictures and videos of that new sled
- Highlight anything new that you have at your disposal
- Thank the district if they’ve supplied the funds
5. Highlight Coaching Staff
- Create a simple profile that you can use as a “cookie” cutter to highlight a different coach each week of the offseason
- Favorite movie, favorite vacation spot, spouse/children, college degree, etc
- If you have walk on coaches, take pictures of them in their real job setting
- “Why I coach” videos from each coach
6. Survey Parents and Players
- Highlight the results of the surveys
- Year end surveys – create graphics with quotes about the program
7. Promote Attendance at Games
- First 5 students to show this get in free
- Promote the student section with videos and pictures
- Highlight specific students who play a key role with the student section
8. Highlight Alumni
- Where are they now?
- Things alumni say about your program
- Alumni still participating in collegiate sports – gives updates on their games
- Favorite thing about the program when they played
9. Meet the Player Monday
- Highlight a different player each Monday of the offseason
- Create a simple biography and update it each week about another player
- Favorite movie, favorite vacation spot, parents, college plans, etc.
- Student of the Week
10. Announce college commitments and signings
- This is probably the most widely used strategy by coaches on Social Media now
- Try to get video of the college coaches who have signed your student-athletes talking about what they liked, what they saw in him to recruit him, etc.
- Picture of kid at the table with his parents, coaches, teammates, etc.
11. Promote Your Recruits
- The players you believe will play at the next level might need your help
- Link to their highlights
- Create a short bio that explains height, weight, GPA, the basics
- @TritonFootball Head Coach Jamie Ortiz does a dynamite job with their twitter account promoting his kids, his program, and his community. He started the hashtag #onetownoneteam long before most schools had a specific hashtag, GREAT idea!
12. Logistical Program Announcements
- Get everyone up to date with up to the minute announcements
- Announce practice changes, upcoming important dates, facility changes, etc.
Chris Fore has his Masters degree in Athletic Administration, is a Certified Athletic Administrator and serves as the President of the California Coaches Association. He coached high school football for 17 years, including 8 years as a Head Coach. He is also a court-certified Expert Witness in athletically based court cases. Fore is the CEO of Eight Laces Consulting which specializes in helping coaches nationwide in their job search process, and provides dynamite resources for coaches. Fore has been named to the Hudl Top 100 Coaches, and the Top 5 Best High School Football Coaches to follow on Twitter by MaxPreps. Follow him!