Over the coming weeks, we are hearing from athletic administrators from across the country who are leveling up their social media presence and providing tips and valuable resources to help you do the same.
About this week's 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.
Highlighting student-athlete and program success on social media is one of the most important jobs of a high school athletic administrator. Don’t believe me?! Just ask your student-athletes!
As an AD, you have the unique ability to tell your program’s story, build your school’s brand, and highlight student-athlete success via social media on a daily basis. This effort does not require an elaborate, corporate-style social media strategy or a large staff — a simple social media calendar and/or checklist that includes a few recurring posts is a great place to start. Here is where the fun part comes in. It is up to YOU and your staff how you want to highlight student-athlete success.
A weekly post honoring a student-athlete doing great work in the classroom and on the field? Great!
More frequent posts (perhaps created by coaches) recognizing a player of the game? Heck yeah!
Posts that highlight seniors, sprinkled in throughout a season, honoring their commitment to the program and future plans? Awesome!
A special set of posts shared on social media after signing days to celebrate your student-athletes competing at the next level, while also building your program’s brand and stature in the community? Of course!
Now, let’s dig a bit deeper into each of these ideas and figure out how to make celebrating student success a consistent and regular part of your program’s social media plan.
Student-Athlete of the Week
Celebrating student-athletes on social media is one of the best parts of the job. Adding a Student-Athlete of the Week post to your regular social media menu is a great place to start.
First, think about how you will make this selection on a weekly basis. Perhaps nominations from coaches and athletic staff? Maybe allowing fellow students or members of your school community to submit nominations online? There are many ways to make this selection. Figure out a plan that works best for you and your school.
When you decide how you will select your Student-Athlete of the Week, be sure it is fair, equitable, and allows for all sports to be equally recognized. Once you have a system in place you can create an awesome (and reusable template) that can be shared week after week with some minor adjustments.
See the sample from Green Level High School below. This particular template can be adjusted for a new student-athlete each week in less than one minute. These posts can be shared on the same day each week and can be scheduled to post days in advance if you want to get ahead of things. It is also nice to send the individual selected an email and maybe even a copy of the graphic that you create so they can use it on their own personal Twitter or Instagram.
Also, notice that the graphic is sponsored! Student-Athlete of the Week posts are a big hit among local businesses and could open up a new revenue stream for your program! Talk to your current sponsors to see if anyone would be willing to support your new social media venture.
Player of the Game
Player of the Game graphics may well be the O.G. of high school athletics social media posts — a timeless classic that still has a place in your athletic department’s social media strategy today.
Here it is essential to focus on consistency. Post these graphics every game, win or lose! This is a great place to empower your coaching staff to further enhance your program’s social media footprint by tackling these graphics as part of their post-game routine.
In addition to a catchy template that can be recycled after each game, it can be a great idea to come up with a creative item to give to the winner. At Green Level, the men’s lacrosse player of the game is given the “Gator Bait Bling” chain. This extra special bling is proudly worn to school the next day and kept by its recipient until a new winner is named. Take a look at that graphic below!
This can also be a place to focus on the less flashy stats and gives coaches and programs the ability to highlight players who might not put up flashy statistics, but help the team in other ways that may not always be evident to those watching the game. Think assists in basketball, pancakes in football, ground balls won in lacrosse, etc. Like the aforementioned Student-Athlete of the Week graphics, these lend themselves well to sponsorship opportunities and community support.
Seniors & Senior Night
There is often no group more worthy of praise and recognition on social media than your seniors — a group that has given countless hours of time, effort, and energy to your program that (hopefully) left the place better than they found it.
Social media graphics celebrating seniors during their final season are always a huge hit with the student body, parents, and your school community alike. These posts are great paired with text that provide fun facts, college plans, and other things that the seniors want to share with their peers. These posts also encourage underclassmen to “see themselves there in the future” and can help build a legacy for your program for years to come.
The first graphic posted below was displayed on TVs around Green Level High School in the days leading up to their inaugural women’s basketball senior night. This a small token of appreciation for the senior class that laid an incredible foundation of success for the program.
Think of it as creating a Virtual Senior Night on social media to build excitement and hype for the big game! The second graphic combines a standard gameday graphic with an advertisement for senior night against a big conference rival. There is nothing better than sending your seniors out in style in front of a big crowd with some sweet graphics on social media and (hopefully) a big win!
College Commitments & Signing Days
While on the topic of celebrating seniors and their achievements one of the areas to celebrate and highlight to the fullest are signing days and college commitments for your student-athletes heading to the next level to participate at the collegiate level.
Crafting individual posts for each of your college signees with school logos, pictures from signing day, and custom signatures is a HUGE advertisement for your teams and program to the entire school community. As with all your social media graphics, content is key!
These posts work best with authentic content of your student-athletes decked out in their college swag getting ready to take their game to the next level.
In the Commitment Post below you will notice the blending of Green Level school colors and logos combined with a shout-out to the student-athlete and her college of choice. This can also be a fantastic place to work with members of your teaching faculty and guidance department to celebrate other students at the school planning their futures. Imagine highlighting college acceptances, scholarship recipients, and students pursuing military service in this same way on your school’s main social media channels. Pretty cool, right?
You Got This!
Highlighting student-athlete success on social media is always a WIN, and these celebratory posts are a great place to lay the groundwork for your program’s growing and impactful social media presence. But the possibilities are truly endless!
Find a rhythm, create a calendar, use a daily/weekly checklist, take what others are doing and make it better, or do whatever is necessary to create a social media workflow that works for YOU. Make sure to be consistent and creative as you work towards celebrating the stars of the show: your program’s student-athletes and their teams!
Colin Fegeley, CMAA
Director of Athletics
Green Level High School, NC
Follow Green Level on Twitter @G_L_ATHLETICS