The first part if this series I wrote about the player’s physical presence and mannerisms when showing up to tryouts or ID skates, etc. This week I will discuss the importance of young hockey players maintaining a healthy 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 Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat accounts. Go ahead and do that now….
Oh… 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.
If you are to be considered for a team at any level 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 be entered 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. What they see or read could most certainly have an impact on their decision to 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 points even for the Spring hockey player gearing up for something bigger.
So let’s look at some do’s & don’ts for your social media profile.
- If you want to write about an event that just happened, fine. Maybe you had a great camping trip or you just bought some great new sneakers…..However… Be very careful when posting anything negative.
What happens if you mention a product that you had an issue with & a coach has a connection with that company? Imagine getting selected for one of the European tournament teams where you get to fly over and play in several different countries. As the final roster is being prepared your new coach has a look a the players’ social media accounts to get a feel for his new team. When reading he discovers you bought ‘Brand X’ skates and ripped them apart online for being too tight, ill fitting and equipped with poor 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 suddenly a valued player or a serious liability to his career highlight event? Avoid getting overly critical on a brand or named event. If your skates didn’t fit it’s understandable; but word your post carefully to keep a positive spin or stay generic.
- 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. 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.
- When you are moving forward in your Spring hockey tryouts, or when you get closer to your draft year it is important from time to time to take a 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 then remove it. Maybe you made a post way back to your initial group of school friends who were all linked on Twitter; the joke may have been benign back then but to the reader who wasn’t in on the circumstances may find it troubling.
- If you do not know them personally, consider disconnecting from them. Unfriend & Unfollow can be your saviors! Larger companies or Teams are understandable to follow, but John Q Public from such-and-such province that just followed you because he likes hockey is a red flag. 99.9% of the time it could be okay. 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). Think very carefully even about connecting with all your school friends. Just because the class clown wants to connect doesn’t mean it is a good idea.
Keep in mind that 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 and photo are marketing tools.
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 classy yourself. Even if the world around you is not all unicorn hair and rainbows; avoid venting & unleashing online.
This is not what these tools should be used for and they will have very severe consequences if the ‘right’ coach sees it and decides you do not fit the type of socially responsible player he/she wants. Everything online is perception and the purpose of these Social media tools are to promote you in a positive way!
In case you didn’t have time to read the first article in this series Click Here To Read. In the next article in the series we will discuss locker room bullying and what really happens.