Coaching and Social Media: The Evolving Role of the Coach

You and I got into coaching for the same reasons. We had a coach who influenced our lives through athletics and we now want to impact the lives of others. Or maybe it was that you wish you had an impactful coach and want to fulfill that role for your athletes. Regardless, we love to teach. We love figuring out ways to make our athletes better, to improve our team’s win-loss record and to make our athletes better people. Unfortunately, this is just a small part of the overall job that we call coaching. I remember when I became the youngest Division I head wrestling coach in the country. I was just 26 years old and thought I knew everything. I was going to turn the team around and create champions in just a few seasons. Little did I know that being a coach, especially a head coach, is just 10% coaching. The other 90% involves fundraising, budgeting, ordering equipment, dealing with parents, handling student-athlete academic responsibilities, managing your staff, scheduling, travel planning and various other leadership and administrative tasks. Ugh! While many of the most successful coaches in the country understand the value of their fans, a majority of coaches ignore their role as head of marketing. Why marketing? Ask yourself this: What do I need to be successful? I have asked this same question during talks at dozens of national and state coaching conventions across the country and I get the same responses every time.

  • Better facilities
  • Higher participation rate
  • Stronger support from our administration
  • Improved parental support
  • Increased alumni and community support
  • Stronger fundraising
Every single one of these comes down to one thing. Getting the support of people. Without the support of people, none of these is possible. And people give their support to other people, not organizations. That means that they give precious time and money because of you and the individuals on your team. At least they would if they knew your story.
We gave to Haiti in droves because their story was told on national television over-and-over. We gave to help those whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina for the same reason. We give to research for cancer and ALS and alzheimer’s when we learn about the story of people and especially so when we are personally affected. When we know the personal stories then we are moved to give.
If you believe that your work as a coach is changing lives and building better people (If you don’t, you shouldn’t coaching), then you have an obligation to tell your story too. But you no longer need coverage on the evening news or in the daily paper. You can reach people far more efficiently than that. You can deliver your story to where your community spends its time. In their email inbox. On Facebook. On their phone. On the web. On Twitter. Utilize these channels to tell your story and you’ll find it easier to get what you really need for success.
Make it easy for your fans to find you and learn your story. Optimize your team website and develop a strategy for social fundraising for your team. I call this fundraising through fan-raising. It’s not a new model. College athletics departments have been doing this for years. They understand that their fans are the foundation of their success. The same is true for youth and scholastic programs. If you understand this, you will find that success is closer than you realized.
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