Social Media, Branding, and Developing an Identity for Your School’s Athletic Department.
by Kyle McVey
The most important aspect of marketing and branding is realizing that you truly can be the one to tell the story of your program. When you tell your story, it allows you to highlight your program’s themes and show your students, parents, and community your sports program.
Social media is the best and easiest way to tell your program’s story and show your identity to the audience you are trying to reach. Social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are where students, athletes, and fans get their information and connect.
Below we will detail how we use social media in the Schaumburg Christian athletic department and some steps you can make to augment your school’s brand across different platforms.
Don’t Be Scared Of Social.
If you come from a small school, social media can seem like an intimidating endeavor at first because of the perceived time commitment. However, there are so many resources and platforms to help you start and make the process painless. Free apps like Typorama and Canva are great ways to make templated graphics to promote your players, teams, and games.
We have media days for each of our high school teams to get photos of the players in their jerseys. We use them for school and personal social media posts (and the athletes have a lot of fun with it!).
We also create highlight videos throughout the season to promote a big game or event and get people excited about the season. You don’t have to make these complicated. I literally record these highlight videos on my iPhone and create the video in iMovie where I can add music, words, and transitions. Trust me, it’s easy!
I Think I May Be In Over My Head…
Are you still concerned you won’t be able to do it? Reach out to your students! Chances are, there’s a student at your school that is interested in graphic design and digital media. Either have them show you how to do everything OR have them “work” for the athletic department. That kind of experience will look great on a college application!
Looking At Your Logo
Before you start on your new social media endeavors, take a quick look at your logo. Is it dated? Does it resonate with your student body and match the “brand” of your school? When people see your logo, it should immediately bring positive thoughts about the school and what it means to be a part of it.
Also, keep in mind that your logo is going to be everywhere. From the center of your basketball court…to coaches polos…to social media, your logo is what signifies your school…make sure you are proud of it!
Having a logo that is recognizable, respectable, and represents your program is very helpful. The best way to explain it is you know it when you see it. The Yankees NY, the Chicago bull, the Texas longhorn “Horns Up,” the Florida gator. All of those logos, whether simple or complex, are symbolic of their program.
323 Sports created the new logo for our school, Schaumburg Christian School, about 5 years ago. It respected our past logo, but pushed us into a new era as a program. They did a great job of helping us display who we are and what we represent. If you are thinking about doing a rebrand, I’d highly recommend them!
Good Gear is a MUST
One more thing to look at before you start posting away on social is your school and athletic department’s apparel. Good quality gear also plays an important role in the branding process, especially on social media. Updating jerseys, having fresh T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats for your fans to purchase and represent your school and teams is important for your name/brand/school to become known.
[Another shameless plug here, we’ve been working with 323 Sports for over five years now and they are the absolute best when it comes to getting you the uniforms and apparel you need at a price that works for you. If you need anything done, reach out to them!]
Back to social media.
Each year we have a theme for our program that we use as a hashtag. We put that hashtag on all our posts and have a banner in our gym.
This year’s hashtag #1NVEST focuses on the importance of thinking about others more than yourself! Our desire at Schaumburg Christian is to invest in the lives of our students, players, teammates, and coaches through meaningful relationships! Investing in others is a long term focus on transformational discipleship!
Posting on Platforms
Finally, when you have everything together, you actually have to post! We use the three main social media outlets, which are Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Here’s how we use each of the platforms:
Instagram is our most popular social media platform for connecting with the students. Posting stories on Instagram is also a good way for many people to see highlights of your program.
Facebook is a way to connect with audiences of all ages (especially parents and grandparents). Making events, posting news articles and creating photo albums allow you to showcase your program through multiple mediums, all while engaging with your audience.
Twitter is great for giving updates with short text paired with photos and videos. Publish links to your website and team schedules while following and interacting with other programs & supporters.
This Seems Like A Lot…
If you are just getting started on social media, three platforms can seem like a lot. If you find it overwhelming, start on one platform and play to your strengths. Are you really good at pictures and videos? Start with Instagram! Are you really good at interacting with followers online? Give Facebook or Twitter a shot first. I use Instagram a lot more than the other platforms because that’s where I find my strengths lie, and it’s where most of my student-athletes consume their social media.
What You Get Out of Social Media
When you can connect current and past students, athletes, parents, and fans, you begin to create excitement and buy-in with your athletic program. When they see all the unique aspects of your program, they feel like they become a part of it and take pride in the program. This connection can be significant when fundraising for your athletic department.
Current students will LOVE that you are using social media. It gives them a chance to be recognized for their achievements, interact with their fellow students, and develop a sense of community away from the school grounds. My students (even non-athletes) come up to me all the time referencing a post or a message on social media, and it feels great that they feel a part of our program!
There are so many ideas out there, but don’t be overwhelmed. Just start by telling the story of your program in a simple way and grow from there. There are many free apps and technology these days to help make marketing easier.
I hope this article encourages you and helps you start telling the story of your athletic program to your community!
About the Author
Kyle McVey is the Athletic Director at Schaumburg Christian School, located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. We’ve worked with Kyle for over 5 years and have known him for longer.
We had the opportunity to have him as a guest on our 323 Sports podcast to discuss the importance of marketing and branding for your program.
Kyle’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d love to hear from you or help you in any way he can.