As the NCAA Basketball season kicks off coaches across the country are focused on making sure their teams start the year off on the right foot, with hopes that early season success will translate into spring time dancing.
From 6AM practices to redeye recruiting flights to in-conference bus trips, coaching now a days has become a 24 hour 365 day grind for greatness. In between those early morning practices and late night game film breakdowns, the only constant is recruiting. Coaches still crisscross the country’s living rooms shaking parents hands and cultivating relationships with top recruits, but there is still only a finite amount of time to build a program during the season.
While coaches might only have a certain amount of time to dedicate to the recruiting trail during the season there is now a hugely valuable asset that is just beginning to get fully utilized by top coaches across the nation, an online presence.
Last spring the game was changed from an unlikely place, the NCAA. Now with no limits on phone calls, text messages, and direct messages, coaches can develop meaningful relationships with recruits around the clock. This much needed NCAA rule change is a huge step in the right direction for an archaic rule book that is still in major need of a 21st century overhaul and has catapulted social media to the forefront of collegiate recruiting.
Many coaches view social media as only a negative, a venue for players to say something stupid or post something that their mother wouldn’t want to see, but social media should be looked at positively, it’s a coaching game changer. Social media levels the playing field for many coaches whose message won’t be in a Sportscenter interview or scrolling across the bottom line, it allows coaches to not only reach thousands of people but control their message in the process.
EVERY coach in collegiate athletics should be on twitter, there is NO excuse to not actively maintain an account. Whether you’re a Big East Head Coach or a Mid-Major Grad Assistant, staying active each day on twitter will not only help build your program, it will help build your own brand.
Much like any endeavor, twitter requires a strategic plan of action, whether you’re trying to “humble brag” about your program to potential recruits or build your following amongst your fan base, you must have a strategy for achieving your goals through social media. This strategy can range from posting inspirational quotes to pictures of your brand new locker room to congratulating your players after a great practice, whichever avenue you decide is best for you and your program you must stick to the strategy and work at it each and every day.
Utilizing twitter to share your favorite motivational quotes or new uniforms is just scratching the surface of what the social platform should be used for, it should be considered the one of the best sources for people to determine who you are as a coach, what your program truly stands for, and why playing for your team is the right decision.
The term “humble brag” was used earlier because essentially every message you send out should be bragging about what makes your program great, from a photo with a famous alum to a retweet of an NBA star you used to coach, twitter is the perfect place to go above and beyond the norm of showcasing the best your program has to offer.
Twitter is only one part of an online presence though, in order for an online strategy to truly have the greatest effect it must be all encompassing, meaning that in addition to twitter you must be active on facebook, instagram, and youtube. Head coaches should take their online presence even a step further, a website is a MUST, not simply a page on your athletic department site, but an independent site that is meant to be the hub of all things you, the first place a potential recruit will go when googling your name, essentially the online home of your philosophy, program, family, and who you are as a coach.
All of this might sound like a daunting task for coaches in season who are focused on simply coaching their teams, running practice, and trying to recruit the best players, and it IS daunting at first, but if a strategic online plan is put in place it will make those other coaching duties that much easier because you’ll be able to attract even better talent.
The points laid out here are simply meant to tell every coach WHY staying active on social media will help build their program and brand, HOW to utilize it successfully is the hard part. Not surprisingly the best coach online is also arguably the best coach in the country and defending national champion, John Calipari is at the forefront of social media and the way he utilizes his online presence should be emulated by every coach in America. Coach Cal is not the only coach doing it right, I’ve put together my preseason Top 10 of coaches who are the best on twitter:
John Calipari – Kentucky
Had a chance to visit backstage w/ Jay-Z & my good friend Irv Gotti tonight. instagr.am/p/QJQX0ljSMA/
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 29, 2012
Frank Martin – South Carolina
I am at our own Colonial Life Arena getting ready 2 c one of our own from the 305 in concert @rickyrozay
— Frank Martin (@FrankMartin_SC) November 14, 2012
Mark Gottfried – NC State
— Mark Gottfried (@Mark_Gottfried) November 14, 2012
Steve Wojciechowski – Duke
At the close of this NBA season, Coach K’s former players will have made $1 BILLION in NBA salary… The most all-time. #dukefacts
— Steve Wojciechowski (@steve_wojo) November 1, 2012
Tom Crean – Indiana
Great features on ESPN this morning on Cody and the ESPN THE MAGAZINE cover shoot and our program. Glad I caught it.
— Tom Crean (@TomCrean) November 7, 2012
Sean Miller – Arizona
— Sean Miller (@UACoachMiller) November 15, 2012
Donnie Jones – UCF
— Donnie Jones (@DonnieJonesUCF) November 10, 2012
Billy Donovan – Florida
Really proud of @realdealbeal23! Selected 3rd in the 2012 Draft by the Washington Wizards!
— Billy Donovan (@UFCoachBillyD) June 29, 2012
Cuanzo Martin – Tennessee
What a league! A haven for great players to test and prove themselves. SEC! twitter.com/CuonzoMartin/s…
— Cuonzo Martin (@CuonzoMartin) October 25, 2012
Jay Wright – Villanova
Here’s an image of our team at Ground Zero in Manhattan last weekend – a visit that moved us all: twitter.com/VUCoachJWright…
— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) October 25, 2012
Currently I consult with coaches across the country about fully utilizing social media to their benefit, if you’re interested in developing a social media strategy and dedicated online presence, from a website to properly branded twitter, facebook, & youtube pages, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to help you take your program to the next level.