Sports Under 40: Using Social Media to Promote Student-Athletes
An important component of education-based athletics is recognizing achievement and growth. This can typically be seen through the coach-athlete relationship and the praise a coach provides to an athlete, as well as through the praise between athletes to one another. Praise and recognition—whether it’s traditional praise or social media—help boost student confidence, especially considering the work, commitment, and sacrifices a student-athlete makes when performing to the best of their ability.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many challenges have arisen in how student-athletes can be publicly recognized for their efforts. When in-person opportunities are limited in ways the community can interact with your athletic programs, teams, and student-athletes, it is essential for coaches and athletic administrators to provide other opportunities, virtually, for these interactions. Social media is a tool that can help coaches and athletic administrators recognize, promote, and celebrate athletic programs and student-athlete achievement to community stakeholders and beyond.Social media can be used to meet your stakeholders where they are, whether it be through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, or a plethora of other social media tools. I choose to primarily utilize Twitter to share athletic accomplishments, stories, and announcements, in ways that are both visually appealing and personally meaningful to the viewing stakeholder.
Below are various ways social media can be used to celebrate and promote your athletic programs and student-athletes, which helps build excitement for your athletic programs and student-athletes, provides important information to all stakeholders in a smooth online interaction, and promotes the brand of your athletic programs/department:
- Team/Coach/Athlete Award – This is a great type of recognition for any part of your athletic department who receives an award, no matter how small or large. The more you can showcase awards, the more personal pride you instill in individuals, teams, and throughout your athletic department.
- Game Day Announcement – With all the athletic/activity events that occur within any given day, there is always an opportunity to give a personalized “shout-out” to a team, wishing that team and its participants good luck in their contest. Additionally, this can be a method of communicating important event details such as event time, location, travel directions, and livestream information.
- Season Schedule Announcement – By designing a visually appealing season schedule for an individual team, and sharing on social media, allows for increased excitement and interaction over social media, which only continues to pour back into the recognition of that program and the student-athletes within.
- Special/Important Announcements – There will be canceled events. Social media is perhaps the most important channel to share immediate announcements to all stakeholders, so all have the most up-to-date information. Additionally, sharing a news release announcement on social media can grow the exposure of the athletic program, like a new coaching hire. This can help generate immediate excitement that will only help support your new coach as they enter their role. Typically, news outlets and local sports organizations will see the announcement on social media and share it with their followers — helping increase the exposure of your announcement.
- Player/Coach Showcase – Everyone likes to be recognized and highlighted for their efforts! Whether you choose to only highlight seniors, or whether focus on a “player of the week”, giving recognition and praise to your coaches and student-athletes will go a long way to continue to foster strong relationships. Sharing this on social media allows for extending the reach of positive and exciting news! Additionally, lots of work goes into planning, coordinating, and facilitating an athletic signing ceremony event. Why not grow the impact of that event by sharing it through social media, resulting in a larger public community being able to celebrate your student-athlete’s achievements?
- Game Score Updates – Not everyone can attend all events that are offered on a given day. You likely have many community stakeholders that would love to know all the updates of all the events, even if they can’t attend. Providing live game updates on social media will be positively received by your community, as it allows others to feel involved as if they are at the event themselves. Especially with in-person spectator constraints due to COVID-19, livestreaming and game updates shared on social media are the only way parents/community members are able to interact with teams, players, and even coaches that have a personal connection.
In our continually advancing digital age, the current generation of coaches and athletic administrators must meet our stakeholders where they thrive and desire information — online. By sharing information about our athletic programs and participants through social media, we help promote, recognize, and generate excitement that our programs, coaches, and student-athletes deserve.
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For some ideas of how you can use Twitter to promote, recognize, and generate excitement about your athletic programs and participants, please feel free to visit my Twitter: @ADStoppelOE.