by Mike Davenport, CoachingSportsToday.com
Are you using social media? If so, is it helping or hurting your coaching?
You walk, you leave footprints. Some prints are obvious, like through mud. Other prints, like walking on a basketball court, are harder to see. Regardless, you leave prints behind.
We do the same in the digital world when we use social media — and as coaches these digital footprints deserve some serious consideration.
You could say I came to social media late in the game — y’know, being an old coach and all. You could say that, but you’d be wrong, because social media is not new. It’s been around for thousands of years.
Socrates speaking in front of a crowd — was using social media. He presented info, and got immediate feedback. Same with FDR in his radio addresses. And through the years there are hundreds of other examples of social media.
Yet today’s version of social media is different — more powerful. At no time in history has it been easier for a coach to broadcast his thoughts out into to the world. And that’s fantastic, because you can do so many things so easily with today’s social media — such as give detailed info as it happens on any athletic event — a luxury until recently reserved for just a few ultra-popular sports. Or within seconds tell your team about a change in practice time.
There’s so much promise for coaches with today’s version of social media, and so much peril.
Over the past years I’ve been brought kicking-and-screaming into today’s version of social media. There’s been a lot to learn and I’d like to share with you 12 tips, ones I think you might find of value.
These aren’t power-user tips, you can find tips like those in many places, like here. Instead these are simple action tips, ones to help keep your social media use from derailing your coaching and your coaching career.
1) The World’s Biggest Megaphone
Once in a blue moon I run an experiment on my team. Here’s how it plays out.
Rowing coaches use a megaphone during practices — mine happens to be a very fancy L-O-U-D one.
I’ll purposely leave the megaphone sitting around at the conclusion of practice. It never fails, one of the rowers will pick it up, turn it on, and bellow something to the unfortunate souls around. It’s always something silly, like an impersonation of a coach, or a scream. Of the dozens of times I’ve done this, not once has an eloquent thought been shared, or an ephinany. It’s always goofy.
But here’s the thing, that same comment shared at a normal volume between friends will have little impact. Yet, that same comment shared at lawn-mower-loudness to dozens of people can annoy, distract, and reflect poorly on the sharer.
Just like today’s social media.
Simple action: Think of what you are sharing and the clan who you are sharing it with. Do they mix well? Don’t bother or annoy them, or they will tune you out. I don’t bother readers of my coaching site, such as you, with info about my stick figure business.
- Article: 30 things you should not share on social media – Jeff Bullas
2) Don’t Let That Be You
It’s easy to be someone fake on social media, and if that’s the way your roll, roll on.
However, as a coach, honesty rules. Results, resume, recruiting, or whatever you are using today’s social media for, your mantra should “be honest, or be found out.” Honesty is the best policy.
Simple action: Be truthful in what you blast, and if you make a mistake, fess up. “I made a mistake,” is a powerful word combo.
3) Sharing Isn’t Always A Good Thing
Be cautious of how much you share in respect to personal details. Keep private-information just that – private.
Simple action: Don’t publish personal info such as your home phone number or home address. Be honest but not foolish. Many notables on social media keep their personal life very private. There’s very good reason for that.
4) Share Helpful Stuff
People, especially fellow coaches, are always looking for helpful tidbits and tips. If you are interested in building a following, share some of your secrets.
When I first started this blog three years ago, I only wrote fluffy stuff, with little meat to it. Now I share all my tips, and things I’ve learned, and my readership has grown significantly. Share to be helpful, and in turn you’ll get pleasantly rewarded.
Simple action: Answer someone’s coaching question — lend a digital hand. There are plenty of forums and sites where you can find coaches with questions (LinkedIn and FB being two). Share your tip and then follow up if asked. Don’t expect anything back in return, and see what happens.
5) Lock & Key
There are two types of social media users: those that have been hacked, and those who will be hacked. Believe me, it’s no fun getting hacked (I know — twice), or having Interpol send you a nasty-gram because your blog is being used by hackers to attack banks (I know that also).
Simple action: The following 3 simple actions are common sense but for some reasons are not common practice:
- Use a password program, such as 1Password to protect your logins. Don’t get lazy on this part. I did, it hurt.
- Use passcode locks or autolocks on all your devices. Having your six-year old tweet on your account that “dad is a fatso” is humbling, and also avoidable. (And not true at all ; ) )
- Clear your browser history whenever you use a shared computer. Just do it.
Do those every time you use social media. Those 3 super-simple actions can save you sooo much hassle, and so many headaches.
6) Play Nice, Social Nicer
You are a coach, which means your words carry extra weight, so, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. Make sense, right?
Simple action: Seriously, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t. Really. Really-really. Especially since …
7) Once you hit send the world owns it.
You create a message and before you hit publish, that message is yours. But things change the milli-second you publish – then the world owns it – to do with it what it wants.
You have no guarantee the message you meant to keep “just between us” will stay that way. Or the forum rant will stay just in that forum. Coaching careers and lives have been changed by a simple social media posting that made it’s way to eyes the sender didn’t expect.
Here’s something else to chew on — in an educational setting, any message published about a student becomes their property. Tweets, emails, texts, whatever — if it has to do about a student, and if the person who publishes it works at that school, the student has a right to see that content.
Meaning, that derogatory content emailed to a fellow coach about the worst athlete on your team is now that athlete’s property, can be seen by him, and could be used by him as he wishes. (Hey, I’m not a lawyer, and have never played one on YouTube, but that is how this was explained to me by smart people in the know, so it’s how I operate.)
Simple action: Before you hit publish, think to yourself, “Who do I NOT want to read this, and if they did, what damage could happen?” You better be okay with the answer, especially since …
8) There Is No Place To Hide
You know every social media blast you send never disappears, right? “Oh, I use SecretBlast, and it’s gone forever once it’s read.” Don’t be foolish. Your digital footprints last forever.
Just because a company says your message will vaporize 30 seconds after it is read (Cyberdust) doesn’t mean the reader can’t record it (screenshot) and now that message is alive. There is NO PLACE UNSEEN DIGITALLY. By now you get my point: your message will be seen by someone you don’t want to see it, your words don’t disappear, and your digital footprint can and will be there to haunt you.
Simple action: Be smart. Be thoughtful. Be kind in all your postings. ALL
9) Stop Swearing
My favorite Sponge Bob episode (yup, I’m that coach who watches SpongeBob) is about SpongeBob and his buddy Patrick and their discovery of sentence-enhancers – those special words people sprinkle into sentences to spice things up. Its a silly story about cussing that really grabs the truth of swearing in social media.
Hey, the words you use in your own-private-world are your business. But on social media your own-private-world does not exist. Meaning, your words are everyone’s business. Cuss words are a sign you are not articulate, they demean, and in public they can offend.
Simple action: Drop the sentence-enhancers that aren’t acceptable. If in doubt what is and isn’t acceptable, ask your boss, grandmother, or better yet, the grandmother of the kid you coach. Then find other ways to make your words POP.
10) User Your Manners, Please
- Say “please” and “thank you”.
- Sit up straight.
- Chew with your mouth closed.
Those are simple little manners that make a difference in social settings. Well, there is *social* in social media, right? So manners, aka etiquette, make a difference.
Here’s two quick examples: don’t hit people in the head with your “selfie stick”, and don’t post a photo of someone else without their permission. There are ton’s more, and the article below can remind you of many of them.
- Article: The Guide To Social Media Etiquette – Kristin Appenbirk
Simple action: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and then up the game, and use even more manners. You will stand out in a good way, and as a coach that’s a good thing.
11) Ghosts In The Machine
Social media magnifies your mistakes, and you will make mistakes. If there is a social blast you regret, see if the provider will remove it. That may/may not work.
Simple action: Have so many positive social media postings that the one-off mistake on your end gets buried under a pile of greatness.
12) Ignore & Snore
Not one coach has ever said they are a better coach because they read the negative social media reviews and comment about them.
Simple action: Stop reading social media posts about you, your team, your school. Just stop.
Actions You Can Take
Okee dokee, 12 actions you can take. Start with one, maybe #4. Then add another. Before you know it, you’ll be a social media expert for all coaches. Now there’s something to aim for.
Oh, and here’s something you might find of interest, if you have other coaches you work with:
- Article: Your Late Night Emails Are Hurting Your Team – Maura Thomas