VNN’s Alex Kooi gives a rundown of the social media basics for coaches and athletic directors. He also sits down with two ADs to learn how they’ve successfully used social media to grow their athletics programs.
Alex Kooi: Hey guys Alex Kooi here again. This week on today’s webinar we are going to talk about setting up social media accounts either for your athletic department or your team for the program. We’ll cover how to do a Facebook page, how to make a Twitter account, and how it integrates with all your favorite VNN products. So if any questions come up along the way, feel free to submit them in the sidebar here, we’ll try to address them as we go, and if not we’ll follow up with you guys afterwards with any direct questions you had. So let’s get started.
I’ll share my screen and you should see my main Facebook news feed on here. Now what you’ll notice is on the left hand side, there’s a pages option you can click on to create a new page for yourself. So on that left hand side here, I’m just goin to click on create new page. And for my page, I’ll call it Lyndon varsity soccer, and for my category on my sports team and for my description, I’m just going to put my school website down. So I’ll go with Lyndonathletics.com. Now once you click create page on Facebook here, it’s going to ask you for a little more information on the page itself. So once it loads, it’ll asking you to add a profile picture and a cover photo.
So for my profile picture, I’m just going to use my school’s logo. So once I click on this, I’ll find where I have my logo saved and uploaded there, and then finally for the cover photo, I was was going to submit a picture of my team, but for this I’m actually going to use the graphics software VNN has through BoxOut Sports to kind of pretty up my team page a little bit. So if I go into my BoxOut tab here, you’ll see that I’ve already gone and selected a couple different templates from the library. They’re specifically made for a social media banner, so if I just click on this Twitter banner team right here, all I have to do is go through the template on the left hand side here and fill out the colors and the text. So I’ll go green, yellow, I’ll use my team picture, let’s go with our game logo again and we’ll call it Lyndon soccer, then once I’m done with the template on the left hand side here, you’ll see the graphic it generates for your social media accounts. And then once you’re done, all you do is click share on the top right here.
I’m just going to download this graphic to upload to my Facebook page. Sweet, now going back to Facebook, I’m just going to click on this add cover photo option, I’ll go to my downloads, and upload my graphic here. Perfect, then you just click save on the bottom left, and your Facebook page will be good to go.
Now, before I connect this Facebook page to my VNN apps, I’m going to create a Twitter account next. So going to Twitter’s homepage here, I’m going to click on this sign up button here, and we’ll call it Lyndon soccer. Instead of a phone, I’ll just use my email, say I’m born January 1 of 1970. So Twitter will ask you a few questions on here to get you going, but once you click on sign up, it’ll then email you a verification code to activate your account. So give me one second here as I activate my account. And then you have to set a password next. Cool, now you can either choose to skip this for now, or you can use the logo right from your library. So if I just move this aside a little bit, I’m going to load my logo.
We’ll hit next for my bio for Twitter, I’m just going to put my website down again and I’m just going to skip the upload contacts part for now. Sweet. Now that my Twitter account’s created, I’m going to do the same process where I add a nice banner picture to this as well, so I’m just going to click edit profile here, and then we’ll drag and drop our banner into this field as well. I’m going to hit apply, perfect, and then once I click save I’m good to go.
Cool. So now I have my social media accounts created, I’m going to then connect them to my VNN apps. So for you ADs and admins out there that are creating this for your main athletic department, you’ll notice on your getvnn.com, you’re going to notice on your toolbar there’s a big manage social button right up top there. So once I click on manage social, I can then connect my Facebook account and Twitter. So I’ll click connect to Facebook first, continue as me, and then you should see your Facebook page show up right down here. So I’m just going to connect that page, and then the next, I’ll connect Twitter.
Twitter will be the same process where it’ll ask you to log in with your credentials, and then log you in right there. So the next part about this guys is once you connect those social media accounts, they will then sync right to your team page, so that way anytime Lyndon boys soccer is tagged in a score report, story, article, photo gallery, whatever it might be, it’ll actually automatically share it out to my social media accounts.
Now those who might not spend a ton of time on social media don’t want to increase the amount of time they’re spending on there. The nice part about your VNN page, is it does a lot of the content creation for you guys, and the reality is, this is where people find their information nowadays. They’re not visiting your website every week or even every month, but we are scrolling through our news feeds about every hour.
So you’ll notice on here, whenever you guys get tagged in a score report or any sort of story, people can then click on that from Twitter or Facebook, and it takes you right back to your team page so that people can view whatever story this was about.
Now lastly, I’m going to then connect my social media accounts to my BoxOut page here. So that way, I can start creating really cool graphics featuring my athletes and promoting my program. So I’m going to click on done sharing in the top right, and when it comes to connecting my account, you’ll want to do that on the settings portion on the left hand side of your BoxOut screen. So once I click on settings, I can do the same process where I authorize my Twitter account. And I’ll authorize my Facebook page next. Perfect. Now next time I go in to create like a score report or a game day graphic, I can actually share it directly to my social media accounts without having to download the graphic, rather than go to Facebook, or then go to Twitter, and tweet it out myself. So you notice on here if I just create a quick score report, we’ll say we’re playing against Sehome High School, so again I’m just going to fill out the template on the left hand side here, we’ll go with our Lyndon logo, and we’ll choose Sehome High school as our opponent, let’s say this is a final score of 4-3, sweet and I’ll say go lions, and once I’m done filling out that template on the left hand side, I’ll just click update preview, and you’ll see I have a graphic ready-made to share out to my accoounts.
So I’ll just click share up here and I can Tweet it out and share directly to my Facebook page. Guys that’s all for today, we’re next going to talk to a couple ADs that we consider experts in the social media space. They’re both using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and they’ve really built a following online. So we’re just going to pick their brains for a bit and ask them, you know, how social media has affected their communication and their athletic department as a whole.
All right for our second part of our webinar we are joined by Steen Danielson from Concordia High School, you can check out his website at goconcordiapanthers.com. We are also joined by Ryan Johnson from De Soto High School, you can check out his website at DHSwildcatnation.com.
Guys thanks so much for joining us today, could you guys just give us a quick intro in terms of how long you guys have been in your positions at the current school, and what social media accounts you’re currently using, and they’ll kind of dive in, pick your brains about the specifics on how you set up your athletic department and all those other things.
So Steen, you want to start for us?
Steen Danielson: Yeah, I’m the Concordia Junior/Senior High School assistant principal and athletic director. This will be my second year here, we’ve been a VNN school since probably October, maybe September last year. Currently for social media accounts, we’ve got a school Facebook page, we have my athletic and activities Twitter, and then the majority of our programs have their own Twitter accounts and separate Facebook pages that we have set up that are all linked with our VNN pages. So when they post stuff, they go to all the different outlets. So, it’s been a process to get everybody on board and synced, but I think now using VNN, we’re able to communicate across all platforms pretty effectively, and it’s really helped us communicate with our community.
AK: Cool, perfect. Ryan how about yourself?
Ryan Johnson: Yeah, I’m Ryan Johnson, associate principal, activities director. Most of what I do is athletic director though. I’ve been at De Soto High School here in Kansas for six years now. We have been a VNN school for six years now. We have one main Twitter account for our high school that showcases everything from academics to activities, to clubs to sports, everything. We also have a Facebook, we also have Instagram, and just like Steen, a lot of our programs have their own Twitter accounts, and so we’ve got all of those things synced up through VNN to go out to Twitter and to Facebook and everything like that. Trying to streamline across multiple platforms for sure.
AK: Steen, I’m curious, when you first started as an AD at Concordia, what was the social media presence like, and how has it changed over time?
SD: Since it started, so when I first got here, one of the things I wanted to do is put together a sheet of all of the different programs, social media accounts that we had and I learned that not a lot of people were on Twitter. A handful were on Facebook, and then there was the school’s Facebook page. So that led to some conversations about the importance of promoting kids and social media, and I bet you now we’re probably at 90% of our programs, have Twitter and Facebook, and the other 10 have one or the other. So people have really listened and gotten tuned in to get those accounts set up so they can communicate everything going on in their programs and advocate for kids and recognize kids for the good stuff they’re doing. So it’s been a big change in a year and a half, but everybody’s on board, and I think it’s really helped our social media presence, and help us communicate with our community as well.
AK: Gotcha. So all your own head coaches have like their own account then on Facebook or Twitter or both, or what’s the most popular one?
SD: Yeah probably when I got here it was Facebook, like everyone had their own Facebook page, but the problem that we had there was if you were a band parent following the band Facebook, you might never know what’s going on anywhere else, and so largely our community relies on Facebook as well. So it’s definitely important to have, but with communicating with schools and engaging with the other teams across Kansas and other ADs, Twitter’s the place to be, Instagram is as well. There’s a couple programs here that have Instagram, but everyone’s jumped on board to the Twitter train, and it really helps out because you can, what I’ve told coaches, don’t get overwhelmed by adding Twitter if it’s not your thing, because you can still just post through the website which is really similar to posting to Facebook, and then it goes to both, and so you don’t have to worry about anything, and that’s helpful.
AK: Sure. Ryan, I’m curious, how have you guys used social media right now, for just communication in general, how much of it is relied through social media versus other means like email, like word of mouth, phone, all that stuff.
RJ: Yeah, so our athletic department, we do it on when it’s busy season. When you’ve got six sports going and four different levels of each sport and everything like that, it becomes a daily communication tool. And so typically what we’ll do, especially during COVID times, is post information to VNN, which then gets shared out through Facebook, through Twitter and whatnot, and then we will hyperlink, find the hyperlink to that article, and then do a direct email through our student database system to both parents and students of that activity group, or if it’s a big enough event we’ll just email the masses, all parents and all students, so everyone receives the information. But it’s all linked by to the website, whether they click on Twitter or they click on Facebook or they click on the link in the email, it all goes back to one place, so it’s one consistent message across all of our stakeholders and community members, and so we really feel like that process, because we feel like we can reach a lot of different people, you’ve got a lot of different states of life. Like different social media accounts, what we’ve kind of seen is that our kids, high school kids are on Instagram primarily. And their parents like Twitter, and then the grandparents like Facebook, at least that’s kind of what we’ve seen in our community.
AK: Sure sure different audiences there. Steen, I’m curious in terms of if there’s any ADs out there who are just kind of apprehensive, or just haven’t gotten to social media yet, where you would suggest starting, in terms of just starting from square one.
SD: Oh man. Obviously you have a lot of power to set up your own, like Ryan and I both do for athletics and activities, or school-wide to promote programs, but what you quickly learn is that it’s really hard to stay up in communicating for everyone. And with me it’s 7, 12, all of the programs, so step one, you’ve got to be active as an AD, promoting and communicating, and where it helps out using the website is because it give everybody else a space and a voice to communicate as well. But I’m a big believer that you got to lead by example, so where I would start is getting on Twitter and starting to communicate what game day or what’s going on for the week, and then if you want to engage in building a website like this, you still can do the same thing. So it goes to Twitter, and Facebook, you have one medium that you can communicate across all of it. And then once that’s established, coaches will start to see the benefit, ability, to communicate with the community, and they’ll jump on, and then it just kind of spider webs, and just gets larger and larger, and your communication gets more and more effective.
What I found using the website, it initially started because we just didn’t have a place to communicate scores at all, so when I built the website with you guys, the expectation for coaches was just one thing, you needed to use Press Box by the morning after your contest to communicate your box score. I said you didn’t need summaries, you didn’t need anything else, I just need the box score the morning after your contest. And that was easy enough and now look where we’re at. And there was really no, hey I want you to do this or I want you to communicate this, sure here’s a tool, communicate your score, and it’s grown to, hey, I can communicate a lot more, and it makes my life easier. So, lead by example first, and then give people access and they’ll see how it makes their lives easier.
AK: Sure. Kind of that same vein Ryan, I’m curious, how have you organize your coaching staff around using social media to communicate with their parents, athletes, fans, all that sort of stuff.
RJ: Yeah so, obviously from our main accounts, the high school accounts, we’re promoting anything and everything we can. Positive news, students of the month, staff of the month, you name it. As far as coaches go, obviously the way ours are organized, it’s not Coach Johnson at DHS basketball accounts, it’s DHS Boys Basketball, it’s the school basketball account, so it’s not individualized down to one person, we kind of like the bigger picture idea, that way we can take that account and transfer it if we need to down the road. But they are promoting things. Sometimes, it could be anything and everything, so something that’s not globally communicated. It might be something that’s cool that happened at practice, it could be something, I mean you name it, pictures, info, anything like that from the actual team accounts.
AK: Yeah sure. Now you guys have both, both have a social media presence that has grow to well over the thousands following, I’m curious, when you started till now, what are some of those things you guys have done to try and create such a huge audience following your accounts? Are you involving students? What tools are you using, Ryan I know you’ve mentioned you’ve used HootSuite in the past, so what other ways have you done to really get this growth behind your social media accounts as well?
RJ: Yeah. So when we first started six years ago, we just had Twitter. We had the main Twitter account, and we were probably around 600 to 700 followers. We’ve grown to 3,000 plus and we post, we Tweet in game scores, we’ve got that Twitter account that is multiple users, so you could be at multiple sites posting different things. We’re posting game day graphics, we’re posting links to information, I mean it’s like social media is our one stop shop to get people to all sorts of different information.
AK: Gotcha make sense. And seeing, I’m kind of curious like, what kind of tools do you currently use in terms of just trying to engage with students, coaches, fans, all that stuff, so start off by on Twitter?
RJ: Something that I found really important, especially back when I did coaching was recognizing kids. So adding the students who are a part of the program and things they do, something I used to do was MVP of the game. So I’d add that kid, explain what they did to be impactful for that game, and really recognize them. And I’ve got coaches on staff who post in weight room records, speed, training stuff, and just involving those kids. Something I do as an AD from time to time, if there’s a really big play at the football game, and that kid’s got a Twitter, I’ll at them in my score update. Something else that I think is important, it’s not just about engaging with your community, but also other communities. So yesterday we lost in the sub-state finals against Clay Center, it was easy for me to at Clay Center and say, we followed to Clay Center, congrats on winning the championship, best of luck at state. And so you’re engaging with another school community and helping them communicate, and you’re building a relationship there. So the other thing we’ll do is use BoxOut for game day graphics and scores on game day when my yearbook, or when my yearbook sponsor is at the game, she’ll be taking sweet pictures. And she’s got a SD card that’ll send them to her phone, she’ll text me a picture, and then that’s what I do to make the BoxOut graphic for the score updates.
The second piece that the yearbook teacher will do is trying to find ways with my schedule, being also assistant principal, it was hard, 7/12, Tweeting a BoxOut graphic, because there’s something every, there are multiple things every single day. So I approached her and said hey, how could we do this, and she was all on board. So she’s got all her yearbook kids assigned to different sports. They’re making the game day graphics and scheduling them, so literally anytime you see a game day graphic, I had nothing to do with it, it’s a staff member in my building working with kids who are excited about promoting and advocating sports that they’re involved in. And it really gives us an official look on Twitter, and I think is another reason why people like engaging with our social media accounts.
AK: So you’re kind of at a place now where students are covering your own activities and other students at the school when it comes to these tools and on social media, and with all of your activities in sports then it sounds like. Sweet. Ryan, I’m kind of curious, in terms of tools like BoxOut, how does that help your coaches engage with students and trying to get, build their program out in terms of participation and covering for parents. Like how does that, how has that helped your coaches?
RJ: Yeah, I mean it just enhances everything we do. It makes your information look professional, like a college level feel about everything we do. Kids like seeing their pictures out there. On a normal school year, non-COVID, we will do a fall sports media day, or a winter sports media day, where we’ve got kids posing in front of a green screen and doing all kinds of fun stuff like that, and they just love it. And so anytime that we can promote the positive things they are doing with professional grade level content, it makes them look good and feel good. It makes our school look good, and it really just gives a really substantial look and feel on social media. And I mean you can tell the schools out there have it going. Like Steen and I, you can tell on social media the schools that are invested in and really have made a goal of promoting their school positively with awesome content.
AK: That’s cool. Well guys, I really appreciate your time today. We could probably pick your brains for another hour here, and in the future in fact we might even looking at hosting a Q&A session where ADs can come in and ask you guys how you’ve built certain aspects of social media, how your coaches use it, how to police it, all those sort of things. So I really appreciate your time today, if any of you guys have specific questions for Ryan or Steen, feel free to ask them in the chat here, we can always follow up directly with you guys too afterwards, but we’ll call it there for today. Again, feel free to reach out to connect at VNNsports.net with any specific questions for social media syncs, you can always email myself at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll call rap for today. Thanks guys.