7 Social Media Mistakes ADs Make

Colin Fegeley
Colin Fegeley

About the author: Colin Fegeley is currently the Athletic Director at Green Level High School in Cary, NC. He has been an athletic administrator for 9 years.

An effective social media strategy is an important part of a high school athletic program. Building your school’s brand and celebrating your student-athletes on social media has become an essential role for the modern athletic director.

Across the country, high school athletic departments are doing a phenomenal job navigating the ever-evolving social media landscape — producing incredible content designed to highlight school, team, and individual accolades.

With that said, no athletic department (or AD) is perfect. Here are seven common mistakes that athletic departments make on social media and suggestions on how to avoid them!

1. Inconsistent Branding

Brand inconsistency can confuse your target audience and dilute your message. Ensure that your athletic department's social media accounts align with your overall brand identity, including logo usage, colors, and athletic department’s vision.

Try to find consistency when creating social media graphics. It is your story to tell, so be sure to build and protect your brand!


Kettering Fairmont High School does an excellent job creating brand consistency with its social media graphics.

2. Neglecting Engagement Opportunities

Social media is not just a broadcasting platform; it's an opportunity for interaction and engagement with your audience. Failing to respond to comments, direct messages, or mentions can lead to a lack of connection with fans and potential missed opportunities for building relationships with your student-athletes and community.

Don't be shy from interacting with fans on social media. You don't have to have full-on conversations, just short replies and words of gratitude go along way.

Twitter and Instagram can be very effective communication platforms. Don’t neglect the power of communicating directly with your community on social media.

3. Lack of Variety in Content

Mix it up! Posting only standard content, such as game updates or ticket sales, can make your social media presence one-dimensional, less engaging and bland. Incorporate a variety of content types, such as behind-the-scenes footage, player profiles, in-game highlights, fan engagement posts, and interactive polls/contests.

Posts that include high quality social media graphics, photos, and videos will ALWAYS have a higher engagement rate than a basic text post (even with a few emojis sprinkled in).

The best part is, you don't have to gather all of this content by yourself. Crowdsource content from the community by creating a shared Google Drive where fans can upload content. Or, use a feature like Gipper's Content Requests to have folks upload directly to your graphics platform.

4. Ignoring Analytics

Use your analytics to improve your social media presence. Neglecting to analyze social media metrics can prevent you from understanding what content resonates with your audience and what strategies are working (and not working).

You should review analytics to gain insights into engagement rates, reach, demographics, and other key metrics to inform your content strategy. This data can help you monetize your social media platforms and attract new sponsors who are seeking to expand their reach on social media to your audience! Look at the analytics and you might be amazed by how many engagements you are getting every month. Some schools are seeing up to one million engagements a month across all of their social media platforms!

Twitter analytics can be found under the Creator Studio menu — take a look!

Look at your social media analytics to see trends in your social media presence and track what's working and what isn't.

5. Inappropriate or Controversial Content

Posting content that is offensive, controversial, or inconsistent with your athletic department's values can harm your school’s reputation. Ensure that all content shared on social media aligns with your organization's code of conduct and maintain a professional and respectful tone. This includes team specific social media accounts.

Consider training for your coaches and student-athletes about proper social media use. This can be a great professional development opportunity, even for the most veteran social media users.

6. Overlooking Visual Appeal

High quality visuals play a significant role in social media engagement. Neglecting the visual aspect by posting low-quality images or videos can make your content less appealing.

Be sure to use appropriate graphics for each platform and avoid posting graphics surrounded by white boxes (a major pet peeve). Transparent PNG files are best. Invest in high-quality visuals and consider incorporating multimedia elements to enhance your posts whenever possible.

Below is an example of an excellent game day graphic created by a student!

Social media graphics platforms, such as Gipper or Canva, make it easy to create eye-catching visuals to take your posts to the next level. 

7. Failure to Utilize Platform-Specific Features

Each social media platform offers unique features and capabilities that can enhance your engagement and community reach. Failing to utilize these platform-specific features, such as Instagram Stories, Twitter Polls, or Facebook Live, can limit your ability to connect with your audience in a dynamic way.

Be creative and think outside the box! Look at what other schools, colleges and professional teams are doing — no need to reinvent the wheel. Be creative and have fun with it. Social media SHOULD NOT be a burden!

Regularly evaluating your social media strategy, staying up to date with industry best practices, and adapting to the constantly evolving social media landscape can help you avoid some of these social media mistakes.

Now… get out there, celebrate your programs and student-athletes, and HAVE FUN doing it.

Need a good place to start? Over 3,000 amateur sports organizations rely on Gipper to create professional-looking graphics — in seconds with no design experience required. Try a 14-day trial, or schedule a free consultation to learn more.

Humanize your social content and boost engagement!
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