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Understanding Social Media
Social media can make or break you in the modern age. For aspiring professional athletes, especially rugby
athletes looking to get involved in the burgeoning professional opportunities in America, social media can be a
powerful weapon to get noticed by a professional team or a corporate sponsor. That being said, it’s helpful to
start by auditing your own accounts and clearing them of any suspect content around the obvious no-nos. That
latest political rant or snapshot of a grocery bag full of weed can hurt or even kill your chances with a
professional team or to get paid repping the latest gear from BLK.
Next, let’s break down the technical aspects of different social media platforms and then address the tactical
ways to use them to your advantage.
Facebook is the most versatile platform to deliver a message. You can create events, engage your audience
live, and even blog about your knowledge of the game, your personal training regimen, or how you’re preparing
for the next combine. It’s important to note that Facebook will bury content that doesn’t include media (pictures,
videos, or links) and that Facebook is especially pushing it’s Live feature. So be sure to go live and ask your
friends and fans for well-wishes of good luck as you arrive at the pitch on game day. Facebook will reward you
by pushing your content front and center over other posts in your follower’s feeds. Otherwise, it’s a great
platform to share video highlights, give your insight on the latest round of test matches, and talk about the soup
kitchen you’ll be volunteering at over the Thanksgiving holiday – create an event and get a couple dozen
people to show up for a great cause!
Twitter is the great updater. Use it to share the match scores from the weekend, share your thoughts on a
major holiday or movement, and communicate with brands and teams. Seriously. Despite the vastness of
Twitter, there’s a special connection anytime you save a witty one-liner for that team you’re looking to try out for
or that greek yogurt company you think you can help market to young athletes. It’s also the easiest brand to
engage trending conversations with, which you should because of how it enhances your visibly on the platform.
Hashtags play a pivotal role in connecting you to conversations bigger than yourself and allowing you to put
your own quick spin on things. For perspective recruiters and marketers, this is a chance to see where you’re
engaged and why.
Snapchat is the fastest growing platform and it’s all about the media content. Snapchat really allows you to tell
a story through a series of pictures and videos that engage your fans in your day-to-day as an athlete.The
tricky thing is keeping them engaged. Create a mannequin challenge with your team, have a buddy video a
series of trick shots with a rugby ball or a series or trick kicks, take a picture of the scoreboard at the end of the
game, etc. Your audience wants to be immersed in a world outside their own and see a whole new world, like
their own personal Aladdin app.
A picture is worth a thousand words. So your Instagram account can easily be worth millions. Treat every
picture like a masterpiece and always remember that filters are your friend. If it’s not great, don’t post it – quality
over quantity. The story you tell with Instagram should be the aspects of you as an athlete that are aspirational
and creative. A post of a scoreboard to illustrate a victory, a picture of a sweat-soaked and blood-stained jersey
can illustrate how hard you worked for that victory, and a picture of you engaged in a scrum machine is unique
and physical. These can all illicit actual emotions of excitement, happiness, or anticipation around you as an
athlete.
Every post on any platform tells a story and you’ll need to think of yourself as a brand, every time you hit the
submit button. Your audience will use your posts to build a picture of how they see and characterize you –
brands and teams will use it to see where you fit into their mold. So stay genuine, but stay positive and create
a brand that people want to buy into and stay engaged with, because that’s the kind of brand a professional
team wants to make a team captain or that a sponsor like Nike wants to rep its latest line of cleats.