This article was coauthored by Tim Kettenring Jr., owner of Valhalla Strength and head strength and conditioning coach for baseball at Loyola University (New Orleans).
When used responsibly, social media can be a beneficial tool in the development of a young strength coach, to observe what other coaches are doing around the world.
However, just as social networking has changed our behavior, a cultural shift has gone unaddressed in the sports performance industry. It has become multi-generational with young interns, millennial strength coaches and older veteran strength coaches. Social platforms have been instrumental in the development of many coaches' careers, but they also have the potential to derail a career just as easily.
The potential for abuse of social media is broad. Interns, strength coaches and fitness professionals have used social media to interact with clients and athletes inappropriately—by seeking outside relationships, among other things. Therefore, in this age of social media, contextual and contractual guidelines must set standards and ideally prevent embarrassment to users, their families and their schools.
Social Media Guidelines
Here are the guidelines we impose on interns to ensure appropriate social media conduct.
- Interns may not follow or be friends with any athlete in the program.
- Interns may not direct message, snapchat or use any private messaging application with any athlete in the program.
- Interns may have no online interaction whatsoever with any athlete in the program.
- Interns may follow other coaches based on the recommendation of the internship coordinator.
- Interns should limit interaction with other coaches on social networking platforms to "liking" their posts, videos, etc.
That said, social media as a tool will not go away. It will continue to grow and become a bigger part of life. Therefore, leveraging social networking portals effectively to create change in the industry is important. As a strength coach, I think social media can be a great way to help educate athletes and gain exposure if used correctly. Here are some additional tips for success:
- Do not send direct messages immediately.
- Be personable and limit scheduled content.
- Limit your "thank you's" when content is shared.
- Numerous hashtags may take away from the value of your message.
- Do not denigrate fellow coaches. It can ruin opportunities and is unprofessional.
- Strive for a 50/50 split when sharing your articles and sharing others.
- Watch your voice and tone. Avoid sounding condescending or having a know-it-all attitude.
- Not everyone will like your stuff, but keep sharing your articles, videos, blog posts and other content that people in your industry will find useful. Just be careful not to share too much at once.
- Consistently present yourself in a professional manner.
- Don't share your personal information. Unless you are networking with friends, people don't need to know.
- Don't be needy and don't overshare.
- Match the right content with the right network and group.
- Be generous and give credit when it is due.
- Get permission before tagging.
- Learn your program's codes of professional conduct.
- Don't be negative, a braggart or offensive.
Even the best professionals have made these mistakes. These are just some do's and don'ts that I hope will encourage you to develop and put in place your own guidelines and standards for your staff, athletes, and even yourself.
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