Words & Sports

Social Media Branding Works, Just Ask Coach John Calipari

When I talk with business owners, I hear the same complaint over and over; they can’t find young talent. And when they do find somebody promising to interview, it seems (in their eyes at least) that the candidates spend too much time online using social media. These businesspeople don’t understand social media. They have no interest in spending resources, money, or time on social media branding, because they feel it is a waste of time.

So, then how is it that Coach John Calipari, from the University of Kentucky, can build a brand on social media? I’m talking about one of the best and most successful college basketball coaches ever.

For decades, Coach Cal found success on the court back when social media didn’t exist. But when the attention of the talented high school kids shifted to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, he realized he needed to be there too.

At a time when many (not all) other coaches in college basketball refused to understand social media, Calipari went to where the kids were, the place where his potential recruits were. And he used social media to tell a story—a story of his travels, of his team, of his time recruiting, and of the players he coached who are now in the NBA: John Wall, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Derrick Rose, Karl Anthony Towns…the list goes on. Nobody else has a record like that. Nobody. These are the men idolized by high school players, the guys the kids want to be—and can be, with the right coach. What better way to tell that story then with images, video, and writing, all of it available online where the kids are?

College basketball recruiting has many rules. Break one and find yourself in serious trouble. But there is no rule against posting an image of the coach with the 2017 NBA All Star MVP’s family. Or posting a picture with the mother of all-star point guard, John Wall, when she happens to be on Kentucky’s campus for a visit. Do you think recruits are showing their parents the picture of this coach with a former player’s mom? Of course!

This is what social media networking can do. This is what it can do for you, too.

So, you can complain about social media. You can refuse to understand how social networking works, pretend like social media doesn’t matter and that it’s only there for entertainment purposes—or you could engage on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (and others—including LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc). That’s where your clients are, that’s where your customers are, and that’s where your new recruits are.

It’s your turn.



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Image of the John Calipari was taken by the Keith Allison under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license