Sports and Social Media - Why Should Coaches Care?

Today is the fifth in a series of posts (a new post each day) with thoughts from some pretty smart folks to try to answer the question of why people should care about the intersection of sports and social media. You can see the first three posts below:

Even if you already know why this is important, I hope you enjoy getting a variety of perspectives on this subject. If you have bosses, colleagues or friends that still don't get it, maybe they'll find some value in this series if you share it with them.

Today's topic is coaches. Social media can bring coaches closer to fans, ticket holders, donors, sponsors and even athletes they're trying to bring to the programs they run. Social media gives coaches a direct line of communication to fans, which can help strengthen fans' loyalty to the coaches and teams they love. Similar to athletes, coaches can use social media to build a following and open up new job and/or sponsorship opportunities. Social media has also led to recruiting 2.0--enabling coaches at schools with smaller budgets to identify talented athletes (or athletes they want to stay away from) based on the content about these athletes that exist online.

Also, some people have said that coaches need to make sure their players understand the RIGHT way to utilize social media--in a manner that reflects positively on the teams they play for. While this may not be coaches' primary responsibility (I think this should fall to the same people that educate athletes on how to speak to the press), coaches are the perceived leaders of their teams. When a player does something negative, this reflects poorly on the coach, too. A coach needs to make sure athletes are given proper training so they aren't using social media in ways that could hurt people's perceptions of the coach or team.

See below for a variety of thoughts from other smart folks about why coaches should care about sports and social media.

Jackie Adkins - If you are like Pete Carroll, you can use social media to make your fans fall in love with you even more. If you’re like Roy Williams, you need to educate your players about how to act appropriately in social media. If you’re like Joe Paterno, well, leave the Tweeting up to your son.

Dennis Allen -Coaches need to know what the general perceptions are regarding their team and players. Also regarding their strategies. Coaches longevity is in decline. Demands to win are heightened. They need to please a lot of different audiences and as such need to heighten their awareness of what is being said. Social media allows them to stay “in the know.”

Anthony De Rosa - For amateur coaches, its a great tool to broadcast information to their players, like when their next practice is, etc. For major league coaches, again, it's a way to talk to fans, but coaches aren't really buying into social media in that way just yet. They prefer the traditional press conference, but that could change.

Brian Gainor - Social media serves as an effective means for coaches to connect with players/recruits, fans, and donors, and their local community. In the coaching space, Pete Carroll has differentiated himself through social media in both the collegiate and professional ranks. While at USC, Carroll used his Twitter profile to post viral videos of team meetings and off-field activities, engaging Twitpics, and unique moments where celebrities like Will Ferrell visited practice. With the Seahawks, Carroll has used social media to connect with the local Seattle DMA, provide real-time updates detailing team progress, promote his book tour, and thank fans for their support. If anything, coaches need to understand the social media space to stay one leg up in recruiting battles and understand how members of their organization (coaches, personnel, players) may be violating rules and/or missing out on engagement opportunities.

Lewis Howes - Coaches should care for similar reasons to athletes in career building. They also should be using social networks to monitor what's happening with their own players.

Ash Read - Athletes will soon start arriving at new teams with social media profiles and fan bases, coaches will need to understand the ins and outs of social media and also keep on top what players can and can’t share through social media. Some coaches may be very open, however, others may not want to share behind the scenes images or info from the locker room as well as injury news and updates. Social media also holds massive opportunity coaches themselves to build their personal brands, just as it does for athletes.

Brian Reich - One of the wonderful extensions of the rise of social media has been the explosion of information that is available, and the addition credible voices to almost every conversation imaginable. With the controls on who can create and promote information lifted, new experts emerge, new perspectives begin to flow, and new insights can be gathered and processed. For coaches, this means there are more eyes to analyze game tape and countless different perspectives from which data and insight might be offered. The coaches that embrace social media can present their ideas for how to lead a team in more compelling ways -- but also can embrace the opportunity to expand the size of their virtual staff.

Trevor Turnbull - Coaches need to be especially aware of the impact that social media is having on their role as the leader of their team. We have seen examples in the past where coaches have come down hard on players that act inappropriately online. Alternatively, by providing guidelines on acceptable conduct for players on social media platforms, a mutual trust and respect can be established between a coach and his players that is critical to the success of their team.

Brendan Wilhide - Coaches, especially college coaches, have the unique opportunity of fielding fan questions about their team or program on social media sites. Coaches can be brand ambassadors in social media.

Joseph Yi - With teams, athletes, and agents adopting social media, coaches can benefit from social media by giving themselves a voice. One great example of this is John Calipari, coach of the University of Kentucky. Calipari, who has over a million Twitter followers, uses social media as a way to interact with UK fans and the community. Just how athletes often like to voice their opinion on topics, social media gives coaches an outlet to the community rather than having to go through the media.

Now it's your turn - why do you think coaches should care?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, which will examine why colleges should care about social media/sports.