I am excited to introduce Matt Brady, Director of Athletic Media Relations atTexas A & M-Corpus Christi. Recently, I asked Matt ten questions about how he handles social media training for student athletes. In addition to being head of media relations for the Islanders, Matt is the chief contact for men’s basketball, soccer, and women’s golf at the non-football member of the Southland Conference.Many thanks to Matt for taking the time to chat and shed some light on a hot topic in college athletics.
1. How long have you been doing social media training for student-athletes and why did you start?
This was my first year doing social media training. I had been thinking about doing it, but the men’s basketball coaches asked me to present as part of their “life skills” sessions for the players, and after attending the annual College Sports Information Directors of America conference in St. Louis this summer, it became obviously important to implement some training for our student-athletes.
2. Does your athletics department have a social media policy?
We do, but it is catered only to the student-athletes. I am working on developing a plan for our staff.
3. Are you monitoring your student-athletes on social media? If so, how do you do it?
I have a list in TweetDeck for my men’s basketball student-athletes and another for our other student-athletes.
4. Do you train by team or do you offer one training for all the student-athletes together? If by team, do some teams have individual guidelines?
We did our training for our whole department (~200 student-athletes) but also addressed it in team trainings. The teams do not have individual guidelines.
5. Do you train your coaches as well?
We haven’t at this point, but I plan on addressing this in the next few weeks. Our coaches are still somewhat reluctant to embrace social media, and I plan on rolling the benefits into the training.
6. Could you explain a little about your training?
My first training for the men’s basketball team was about a two-hour event. I was very heavy on examples of bad behavior and good behavior. We also talked about representing your own brand. I also showed the players some of the things they said on Twitter – both good and bad. In the training for the full department, I cut it back to an hour and removed the embarrassing tweets.
7. Have you seen changes in the student-athlete population on social media as a result of your training?
The negative behavior has decreased significantly, though there are still some questionable tweets. The positive interactions have seen a huge increase, especially with regards to interaction between teams.
8. Do you promote your student-athlete’s personal Twitter accounts on social media?
Yes. We often retweet them and when we mention them on Twitter, we use their Twitter handles instead of their names.
9. Do you have guidelines about who student-athletes should “friend” on social media?
We’ve instructed them about the dangers of friending gamblers and people looking for inside information, media members and people with unsavory names and reputations on social media.
10. Any other thoughts?
The student-athletes had a very positive reaction to the training. They said that they really enjoyed having examples in the presentation.
How about you? Are you training your student-athletes to use social media responsibly?