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The Power of Social Media for Coaches

The power of social media has made itself widely apparent.  Nobody can deny that platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and linked in have an ability to influence and connect the population like never before in human history.  However, one must be careful using it.  Social media is an extremely sharp double-edged sword.  It can be an unmatched power tool for networking and marketing, but it can also drag you into being unproductive and even depression! It’s no secret that social media creators engineered it to be addictive, they openly admit this.  But if you can mitigate the negatives, you have an unrivaled tool at your disposal for connecting to other people in your profession, keeping tabs on your players, students or employees and driving your own marketing FOR FREE!  So how can utilize the power of social media for our own benefits?  This article will focus on how to establish a following and add contributions of worth to the world of social media with a focus on Twitter as the network of choice. The goal is never more followers or views, it is creating something worth sharing, and creating new connections. Do that and rest will take care of itself.  Let’s take a look at how we can accomplish this.

PRODUCING CONTENT

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When trying to grow a following and establish a network, producing content should be your first priority.  What do you contribute to the network you are trying to establish? Why should people follow you?  This doesn’t mean that you need to go out and start a blog or website (though it doesn’t hurt), but it does mean that what you post matters.  Simply retweeting everything and never posting your own content will garner very small results if any.  Original posts will always out perform retweets.  But there is more to it than that.  Your posts must have a purpose.  They must do one of the following: share information, state a “strong” opinion or maybe a not so popular fact (without being offensive), ask an open-ended question or comment on a trending topic.  Of all of these, sharing information will get you the most results.  Especially if it is a topic that is A) trending or B) a subject area you have a lot of knowledge in.  Being professionals, specifically coaches for most of you reading this article, it is also a big help to keep your posts focused on your primary niche.  This is your passion live your passion, put out posts that show this.  If you can tie your content into a trending topic, it is even better!  As coaches we ALL have content to produce.  Everybody in this profession has a perspective to share and angle to give, it’s part of what makes this profession so great.  And social media has provided ways for us to network and “daily clinic” and learn more, at a faster rate than ever in the profession of coaching!  I’m not the only coach who feels this way I’m sure.

“Social Media has opened up a daily coaches clinic each day! Being able to network with coaches around the world at anytime is amazing. If I was a young and up and coming coach I will take notes all day long from the amazing coaches that use social media to learn and help other coaches grow in our profession. I personally have learned and built so many great relationships with coaches that I wouldn’t have it wasn’t for social media. — But to me it’s more about friendship’s and respect that you earn from these great men who have taken the oath to mentor to young men and build character and relationships..”

Well put from a coach I have been lucky enough to connect with via twitter @slade248 Coach Singleton.  Make sure you check out his “More with Four” system!

“Social media has changed the complexion of coaching in numerous ways. For me personally, I have made great connections, written articles, and spoken for online clinics. Young coaches trying to make it have a voice. Veteran coaches who have much to offer can contribute. All coaches can enjoy the benefits. The chats have really been a neat twist as well. Social media is the new way to get information out there and while good ole fashioned face to face meetings and clinics still have their place, those conversations are never-ending with social media.”

As @coach_harvey18 Adam Harvey has put wonderfully, the open-ended conversation never really has to end with social media you’ve got a new soundboard for ideas and feedback, A great place for growth for all coaches. He is also a great reference in our next topic if you are a young coach looking for someone to emulate as far as coaching posts, he utilizes hash tags very well along with trending topics.

You also need to be sure to post content consistently and frequently.  Your followers will quit visiting your page if you are not doing this.  If time management is an issue because of work, or just life in general, then use an app like Hootsuite.  Apps like these allow you to preschedule posts ahead of time so it looks like your very active.  In reality you just managed your time wisely and scheduled your tweets to be released at certain times.  Usually I do this the night before.

TRENDING TOPICS

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When producing content, you should try to somehow tie it into trending topics.  You can get a general idea of what’s trending by tapping the little magnifying glass in your twitter app.  It will show you what’s “hot” for that period of time.  You can also tap the “trending for me” tab to see what your followers are into for that moment.  This is particularly useful when your following begins to grow.  You could also, simply ask.  Ask your followers what they want to see more of in general about a subject or from you specifically and tag them into the question as well.  If they are tagged, they are more likely to share the post with their followers as well. It is also very easy to tell if you have hit a trending topic or started one. The post will garner a lot of immediate action.  If it doesn’t… well it will disappear from timelines all together, but we will touch on that a little later in the article.

USING THE #

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The almighty hashtag is probably the most useful part of social media as far as connecting to new people to network with goes.   By using hashtags, you can connect with people of similar interests, connect your content to trending topics, discover new people to network with and follow, as well as gain new followers yourself.  The football coaching sect of twitter may have perfected the use of hashtags for this purpose.  Several coaches are utilizing #chats to connect and network with coaches across the world to share ideas and provide each other with information and an extended network.  Here are some great #chats to check out ASAP:

#hogfbchat (probably the best one)

#33stackchat

#txhsfbchat

#flhsfbchat

#425chat

There are others but as far as at the time of this article being written, those are the hottest ones tied to coaching.  You can also add a hashtag to any of your own content so it will appear on the time line for that hashtag.  For example:  you could post a philosophical opinion or quote, and use #wednesdaywisdom to connect it with any other person on the planet that uses that same hashtag.

ALGORITHMS

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Algorithms are used to decide what should be displayed on the different personal feeds out there.  You might choose to see your feed in a “most recent” display, but that does not mean that you will see everything posted.  The more “trend” a post has, the more likely it is to show up on the feeds of your followers.  Algorithms are constantly changing based on whatever the whim of the network programmers may or may not be.  Trying to know exactly what they are from day to day is a futile effort.  If you can understand them well enough to manipulate your posts to fit in with certain criteria you can gain traction quickly on a post. Now, all that said, here are some things that have tended to hold true and have remained relatively static over time.

Comments need 4 or more words to produce more engagement.

If you have no engagement on a post in 5 minutes of posting it, it will disappear from feeds. The internet is vast with so much content being added every second you have a very small window to get in if you want something to turn from a regular post to trending or even viral.

Comments have higher value than likes.

Retweets increase likely hood of comments seen by others, more audience engagement.

The best times to post are 10am, 1pm – 2pm, 5pm and 8pm, days of the week matter too, Monday night is better than Monday morning, Tuesday/ Wednesday midday are ideal, and Thursday/ Friday early morning are usually pretty good as well.

Since we are talking twitter and football is our topic of choice: planning posts and content releases around major events is no accident, when we’ve done things like reducing the book cost and doing it over the holidays or on big game days is by design.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!

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When you create content for social media, you are publicly putting yourself, your ideas, and your creativity out there. Make sure it is worth sharing, writing, or vlogging about.  You want followers to share and comment on your post.  Your posts should be geared towards starting a conversation and interaction.  Open ended questions tend to produce a lot of engagement.  Ask a question that has more than one answer based of viewer perspective and tag in some followers to entice sharing and commenting.  Original content will always outshine something you retweeted from somebody else.  Remember, you want to produce things that make you worth following. What are YOU contributing? That’s what people want to see and share.  Surveys and asking for perspective will usually encourage engagement as well.  Thanking followers and showing gratitude for anything in posts will also encourage engagement.  Using visuals to help “grab attention” is a big time aid in audience engagement!  Use things like pictures, GIF’s and videos frequently. Humans are visual creatures, having media attached to your post will pull eye focus away from the general feed and onto YOUR individual post.

THINGS TO AVOID

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We have been covering things to do for building your social media brand, but we also need to cover what you should not do.  Here are things that you should avoid doing when creating your content:

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Religion and Politics (posting on your faith or belief is OK, but refrain from engaging in any religious or political debates as it only tends to lead into nasty arguments and name calling)

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You also need to be aware of the fact that everything you have ever hit the like button on can be seen.  It is public and anyone can see anything that you have liked.  It does not matter what you say, or what “disclaimer” you put in your headline.  If you like something on social media, YOU ARE ENDORSING IT!  That cannot be over stated, hit the like button with discretion.

“Twitter has definitely helped in building our brand as offensive line coaches and football coaches in general. It has influenced me into being a better coach and person as well. As we tell our student-athletes, you never know who is watching you and that goes for us too. You never know who is reading your Twitter feed and making mental notes. As far as networking, this has opened me up to so many coaches and friends in the past few years. I value this platform much more than anything else.”

Wise words from the godfather of @hogfbchat; @coachshiffman. Thank you for your input on social media and I couldn’t have put it better myself. Too many times we see likes or comments from kids and wonder why put that out there that’s not a good look. Adults do it too and it looks a thousand times worse. So, mind your likes and posts. Keep it positive, keep it clean and keep it fun.

THE “HATERS”

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It is inevitable, eventually you will get some “haters”. It’s hard not to get worked up when someone comes after you or your brand that you’ve put lots of time and effort into, but pause before you react. Negativity begets negativity. Rule of thumb for haters, not everyone will like what you put out there. Period, not a grand statement, it is just the way it is. — Thank them for there feedback and move on. You can continue your path to productivity, and potentially make them a fan in the future, how I see it, they are already watching what you do. A hater is just a low key fan, otherwise they wouldn’t pay such close attention to what you’re doing.

Here is something to remember about haters though.  They are simply trying to elicit a response and it is actually helping you out.  Haters are just fans in denial.

GRATITUDE

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Always be thankful for the opportunity to meet new people to expand your world from the comfort of your home desktop or while leisurely checking your feed on your cell phone. It takes ten seconds to thank someone for following you (it also starts a new conversation; audience engagement 101) or for sharing some of your content. I’m so thankful every time I have shared something with my community of coaches, and they’ve liked it so much they’ve felt compelled to share it with others, so much so they took time out of there day to write something nice about something I’ve created.

CLOSING

Social media is here to stay, but always evolving.  The platforms may change (RIP myspace) but the social network will never disappear.  Just change face.  You have three options when it comes to dealing with social media.  You can ignore it, get used by it, or you can USE IT!  It is a tool that can greatly help your personal and professional network when used appropriately.  It only makes sense that we as coaches should harness its power to make ourselves and those we influence better.  Would the world be better without social media??? That is another subject entirely, but it is here, here to stay, so we might as well tame it!  Please make sure to follow the coaches that helped contribute to this article, as well as the mastermind behind my social media presence, my wife @karlymarie322.  If I post something on twitter that works… its probably because she told me to! She works very hard to support me and what I’m trying to do, and I am very grateful to have her decide she wanted to be a part of my life forever!

Follow me on twitter here @TheCoachVogt, subscribe to the email list to be notified anytime a new article is posted and if you like to read and learn football, check out these ebooks:

Installing the Wide Zone.   The Speed-T Offense Vol.2 

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