The Social Media Generation

Note: this is the first in a series about Social Media, its power, and how to use it effectively.

Every generation of young people is a little different than the one that came before. Parents always talk about the way things were when they were kids. Family reunions allow people to see the differences over many generations. I even notice a difference between me and my brother (who is only 3 years younger than I am). These differences are what help us progress and take steps forward as a society. They are usually small but create noticeable change.

There is a major generational change going on right now and it involves the things that have become ever present in our lives. Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) is changing the way our world operates and the way that young people see the world.

As a coach and a recruiter at the college level, it is imperative that I not only know how to use these platforms, but also understand how they shape the perspectives and mentalities of my student-athletes. A few weeks ago our entire athletic department had a phenomenal presentation about Generation-Y, how they operate, how they see the world, and how they interact. It prompted me to do additional research on this social media revolution.

I found a number of interesting observations. Young people today live their lives through the lens of the people around them. They broadcast their every action to the world via Twitter or Facebook. They “check in” to places so everyone knows where they are. They take pictures and apply filters with Instagram so they look cool. They announce their opinions on everything to everyone on Twitter. The philosophy is to broadcast yourself so that everyone else can see it and pass judgment. People “Like” things on Facebook. Word spreads about actions, reactions and decisions faster than you can tell people on the phone or even via text. Communication and judgement is instantaneous.

I recently had a very interesting interaction with social media in my own personal life. My long-time girlfriend and I got engaged last week. As we were in the process of telling the people closest to us on the phone, I decided to send out a tweet announcing our happy news. I didn’t think twice about it. However, news spreads so fast today that some people we had wanted to tell over the phone became aware of the news before we could get in touch with them. They had seen a tweet, or a friend saw it and passed the news along, or someone posted it to Facebook or something. It was eyeopening to me to see how quickly things can spread on a Social Media network.

From these two different experiences I have seen the power of Social Media in disseminating information and shaping behavior. As we progress further into our Social Media age, it is critical that we work to maintain human relationships by spending time with other people and communicating through more standard methods, as well as using the new advances in technology. As coaches, we must understand that our student-athletes have grown up being shaped by the opinions of those around them and are constantly searching for feedback and thoughts on their actions. We also must understand the power of Social Media and use it to the best of our abilities to build a brand for our program and recruit student athletes.

Social Media is fascinating to me and I have been working to build a presence for myself on Twitter. I am working to expand that presence through Facebook, YouTube, and this blog. This series on Social Media will continue with my thoughts and strategies for using Twitter effectively.

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One Response to The Social Media Generation

  1. Karl Enroth says:

    Chris,
    Interesting and relevant topic to blog about. I teach a college business industries course online and one of the recent lectures was social media and marketing and how it has changed the game when it comes to marketing strategies.

    When it comes to coaching young student athletes coaches whether they like it or not now have to adapt and accept that social media is here to stay and players use it a lot. I believe the important thing is get student athletes to use it responsibly and to be careful with some of the pitfalls. While there are no real written rules when it comes to social media I’m upfront with my players and let them know that other people can see how they are behaving either good or bad.

    In the beginning of the season and at the end of season we remind the hockey players as student athletes representing the hockey team, school, community, that we want our players being responsible. It’s ok for them to have fun on social media but do it in a appropriate manner. I have told players to clean up their face book pages and that will get their attention abruptly and they often leave with their tail between their legs. The bottom line is as a coach I know that social media is apart of generation-y and their daily life but I also need to inform them it should to be done intelligently – with some thought and not done to harm themselves or the hockey team . I tell the team ask yourself would your parents, coach, boss, teacher, college advisor, etc want to see that language or photo? How do you want to communicate with others and if it’s important personal matter should you really be using social media. If language or photos are inappropriate what could be the possible consequences?

    Social media when used effectively and appropriately benefits most everyone. Getting young student athletes to make good decisions using social media it is something i believe coaches need to be aware of.

    Karl Enroth
    Camden Hills Hockey Coach

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