In the first part if this series I covered the player’s physical presence and mannerisms when showing up to tryouts, ID skates, etc.. This week I will discuss the importance of young hockey players maintaining a healthy & appropriate social media presence. As I write I will be addressing both parents and players.
The easiest was to keep a positive online profile is to close & delete all existing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat accounts. Go ahead and do that now….
Okay then… still here?
Well, if you don’t want to go that extreme, let’s explore what you can do as an athlete to be mindful of your online profile. The first thing is to understand fully why this is important.
First off I will say you SHOULD have and maintain a strong social media presence; it will be the main way you are researched alongside on-ice scouting.
You can be sure that a scout, manager or coach will google you. Even if they are primarily looking for your stats, your name will most likely be entered into the search bar along with the word ‘hockey’.
When you are searched, it is quite possible (more than likely actually) that your social media accounts will come up. The one doing the search will click the links, and I say that from first hand experience. What they see or read or see could have a serious impact on their decision to further scout you.
This happens all the time & not just for athletes, many company HR departments google their candidates on a regular basis. Have a look at the following news links; each person lost either a job or sporting position due to something they posted.
This is very real. A player could post something that costs their position on a team. The above mentioned links are more geared towards the college or pro athlete, however they are moot even for the AAA hockey player gearing up for the next high performance level.
Let’s look at some do’s & don’ts for your social media profile.
1. As we generally catalog or daily/weekly routines, it feels natural to post on an event that is happening or has just happened. Maybe you had a great camping trip or you just bought some great new kicks. Be very careful however when posting negative comments about an area, event, product.
What happens if you mention a product that you had a poor experience with; and a Coach (or any upper staff) has a connection with that company? Imagine getting selected for a provincial or state rep team heading out on a European exhibition event.
As the final roster is being prepared your new Coach has another look at social media accounts to get a feel for his new team. While reading, he discovers you bought ‘Brand X’ skates and ripped them apart online for being too tight, ill fitting and equipped with poor quality steel.
‘Brand X’ just happens to be a Gold level sponsor who is donating a portion of the hotel fees. What do you think would go through the Coaches mind as he looks at the team, schedule & fees? Are you now a valued player or a serious PR liability to this career making event? Avoid getting too critical online. If your skates didn’t fit it’s understandable; but plan/word your posts carefully being mindful of how it could be perceived.
To not like a brand is okay, remember though that your social media platform is a tool to use for your advantage, would you risk losing a roster spot over a poorly presented post?
2. We like to follow friends and celebrities that we are fans of. It sucks but you need to be mindful of what they are posting too. If a friend is posting suggestive photos or racially charged rants, you need to separate yourself from that…. immediately & report as necessary.
What others think is their own opinion; but if it is socially unacceptable/illegal then you need to remove yourself from their ‘friend’ list. It could come back to haunt you.
Remember the phase "don't judge a book by it's cover"? Absolute BS. We do this everyday and you will also be judged by the company you keep! Align yourself accordingly.
3. When you are moving forward in your athletic career, when you get closer to your draft year, prepping for tryouts, etc.; it is important to set time aside to look back at what you have posted in the past. Players should get their parents involved too as a different perspective on a post could be useful. If there is anything in question, remove it at once.
Maybe you made a post way back to your initial group of school friends who were all linked on Instagram/Twitter; the joke may have been benign, but to the reader who wasn’t in on the circumstances of the event may find it inappropriate.
You may not want to do it but for the sake of your personal brand, to 'unfriend' & 'unfollow' can be your savior!
Companies or Teams are understandable to follow, but before you hit the follow button for John Q Public (who followed you because he likes hockey); have a look at what he/she has posted in the past and what they have recently liked. 99.9% of the time it will be okay, just do your due diligence and have a look. That one post when this guy (who you never heard of) goes off on a mind bending rant towards some ethnic minority could be devastating to you (not to mention a possible crime).
Your web site (if you have one), and social media accounts are your 24/7 glossy magazine ads that promote you as a brand. Yes, your name, photos, social media profiles are marketing tools promoting YOU.
How they are perceived determines how you as a player are received. There are many accounts where top level athletes are now untouchable because of a single incredibly stupid comment he/she posted.
Social media sites are marketing platforms for both personal and commercial promotion. They are designed to connect, share & profit from. Use these tools as stepping stones to be seen and talked about; but you need to be very aware of how you are 'seen'.
Even if the world around you is not all unicorn hair and rainbows; avoid venting & unleashing online. Everything online is perception and the purpose of these Social media tools are to promote yourself in a positive fashion.
If you found this article helpful & informative, please share it among your own social media connections. As well if you want a critique of your own social media platforms, contact me on one of my accounts and we can make arrangements. I also run regular workshops for teams on this subject and am available for team level consultation.