Storytelling Through Social Media

A little over a year ago, I wrote a post for this blog entitled “Social Media: The Age of New Recruiting” (if you have a couple minutes, give it a quick read).

In that article, I talked about the importance of storytelling in recruiting both players and fans for your program. Whether it’s through photos, videos or written content, fans LOVE to know more about what’s going on with your team!

Any time I write an article, give a presentation, or talk one-on-one with people about storytelling through social, I always get positive responses. People are excited about the possibilities for their own programs because they themselves love consuming content from their favorite sports teams. However, when it comes to implementing those ideas, those same people are seemingly paralyzed with fear.

The perfect photo, the highest quality video, the best written blog post – the chance that what they produce might not be exactly “right” or as good as someone else keeps them from doing anything at all.


Get out your phone and just go. Don’t overthink, just try. In reality, chances are if it’s the kind of thing that interests you (a sports fan), then it will probably be interesting to those who follow your program (other sports fans).

You may be thinking still, “I don’t even know where to begin.” Here are a few suggestions of things that have worked on our team pages:

  •          Game photos
  •          Team pictures at special events
  •          Congratulatory milestone photos and graphics
  •          Videos of players competing (on the court, in the weight room)
  •          Video documentaries of trips
  •          Pictures and/or videos of community service events
  •          Instagram and/or Snapchat “mini” stories of 4-5 photos/videos
  •          Group photos

See, the goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to emotionally connect with your fan base. And the best way to do that is simply to story tell by regularly documenting your team’s journey. Don’t wait any longer. Start storytelling!

Tony Miller is an assistant men's basketball coach and head of the sports management program at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.  His blog, "Coach.Teach.Lead", contains more coaching and leadership resources.

It's Not Just What Someone Does, It's What They Didn't Do

What's missing?  It's easy to walk into a gym and notice the positive aspects of someone's ability, but it's a little more difficult to find what isn't there.  I recently listened to a discussion with someone who has a unique perspective on this topic and has written a book entitled, Visual Intelligence.

Amy Herman, JD, MA, is the developer of The Art of Perception, a program designed to promote better observation skills and give various perceptions to any given task.  She conducts sessions for medical programs, NYPD, FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Secret Service.  In a recent interview, she discussed the idea of the "pertinent negative," which is a medical term used to diagnose a non-existent symptom in a patient.  I want to take this idea and apply it to basketball recruiting.  

You need to identify not only what you see, but what is missing to give people the most accurate picture. It’s not just what someone does, it’s what they didn’t do.
— Amy Herman

A quick example that Amy shared of the "pertinent negative" would be this:  You go into the Emergency Room at the hospital to tell the doctor you have pneumonia.  The doctor knows that pneumonia is present if there are three specific symptoms.  As he examines you he finds that symptoms 1 & 2 are present, but symptom 3 (the pertinent negative) is absent.  Because of the pertinent negative, or the missing piece, the doctor can rule out the possibility that you have pneumonia.  


As coaches, we can't always rely on the things that we see out on the court to make a decision.  Sometimes it is more important to gain a different perspective and understand what we don't see.  We need to see what was glaringly missing from a player's game to get an accurate representation of what's going on with that player.  For example, Johnny can shoot really well, dribble past any defender, and finish through contact at the rim.  Initial observation would incline you to believe that he would be a great asset to your team.  But make sure to look for the pertinent negative.  Why didn't any of Johnny's teammates give him a high five after he scored?  Why didn't Johnny go through the handshake line after they lost?  Did you ever see Johnny talking to his teammates?  These are the kinds of characteristics that you need to be observing as a coach to make you dig a little deeper.  If you can identify the pertinent negative in any situation, it may just be the piece of the puzzle that you needed.  It's easy to see what's right in front of you, but sometimes it's more important to see what isn't there before making a decision.


The Art of Perception® & Amy Herman. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2016, from  

Amy Herman on Visual Intelligence [Audio blog interview]. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2016, from 

Social Media: The New Age Of Recruiting

Social media has not only changed the way we communicate, but for many, it’s changed the way we do our jobs. No one is immune from its effects, not even coaches. 

As a college coach, I’m interested primarily in three groups – our players, our fans and our recruits. Our players constantly use social media (including during post-game speeches by the head coach). Our fans use social media (even during our games). And our recruits use social media (often in the middle of their school day when they should be paying attention to someone like their government teacher).

See, social media is all about storytelling. As a coach, I want my players, fans and recruits not only to know our program’s story, but also to be excited about sharing our story with others. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of this powerful tool to tell my program’s story?

Less than a year ago, our basketball program decided to start consistently employing social media to tell our story, focusing primarily on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Over the course of the season, we found success with our followers not only viewing our content but also sharing our content.

Here are just a few examples of the ways we tell our story through our social media platforms:


As a small program, not a lot of our fans always travel with us. However, we still value their support and want people to feel like they’re a part of our team. Whether it’s a photo from the plane, a video on the bus, or a picture from a morning shoot around, we attempt to bring our fans with us on every road trip.

We'll be playing two games is week in Puerto Rico. #BruinsInPR🇵🇷

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on

Team shoot around at the University of Cincinnati. #ChampionsToday

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on


During our trip to Puerto Rico in December, we also put together vlogs each day.  We recorded short clips of everything we did that day and conducted short interviews with players to recap.  You can check out each vlog from our trip below!


Long before a recruit ever steps foot on campus, he has the opportunity to get a glimpse into every aspect of our program. Facility tours, player workouts, practice, film sessions – they’re all chronicled through our team’s and coaches’ Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts.

4 more days until the #BruinsInvitational matchup against Barber-Scotia College. #ChampionsToday

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on


Social media has allowed our coaches to continue coaching and teaching even after practice has ended. In addition, we understand that coaches and high school players from around the country are reading what we post. It is important to give each follower value, whether it’s through a motivational quote, a quick hitter, or a suggestion for practice.


Our goal as a program is to use basketball as a platform for spreading the love of Christ. Really, it’s the most important part of our story. So whether it’s ministering in a church, helping in the community, or reffing a Special Olympics basketball tournament, we want those following our social media accounts to know what we value and who we really are outside of basketball.

🙏🏽 #LiveChrist

A photo posted by BJU Bruins Basketball (@bjubruinsmbb) on


Make sure to follow our coaches & players on social media to stay connected to everything that is going on in our program.  You can also get more content from Coach Miller by clicking the link below!

Win The Campus Visit

It's a beautiful day outside and you have one of your top recruits coming to visit campus today.  You've had great talks with him and his family over the last few months and things are going great.  You were at every single tournament he played in last summer and took time out of your busy schedule during the season to make it to some of his high school games as well.  You've built a relationship with the family and really enjoy talking to them.  The recruit has even told you that your school is one of his top 3 and he's going to be making a decision after the visits.  But as he steps on campus, the first thing he notices is an overflowing trash can just outside of your office building...

Whether it's a full trash can or something else, it doesn't take much to negatively influence a recruit's visit.  Your job as the coach and coordinator for this particular visit is to ensure this never happens.  The goal of the campus visit is to win the recruit and his family and give them the confidence that your school is where they want to be.  Here are a few important aspects of the campus visit that could be the difference between signing your top priority and losing him.


There are really two parts to the first impression: The visual impression & the personal impression.  Sometimes the first one is out of your control, but you should make every effort to make this positive.  The second part is fully in your control and you better make it work. 

The visual impression: As a recruit and his family drive onto campus, they naturally begin to form an opinion of the school.  Is the grass cut?  Is the landscaping nice?  Are the buildings kept up?  These are just a few of the things they look at, but they are important.  I'm lucky enough to be at a school that does a fantastic job with their grounds.  You will never drive onto our campus and feel like it's a mess.  The landscaping is beautiful, the fountains are always flowing, and the trash cans are always empty.  Because of the grounds crew at Bob Jones University, my job as a coach has already been made easier.

The personal impression: This is where coaches typically win or lose the visit.  We want to win, so here is how we do it.  Psychologists have performed studies that say you have seven seconds to make a first impression.  When I go to meet a recruit in our Welcome Center or by their car, I always want to be the first person that they interact with.  Why? Because it's my responsibility as a coach to make them feel welcomed and I don't want to risk someone else impacting that.  Remember, I only have seven seconds to make this "first impression" the best that they have ever seen!  Do I have a positive attitude?  Is my posture conveying confidence?  Do I have a bright smile and welcoming eye contact?  Is my handshake firm?  Am I genuinely interested in them?  I know it sounds silly, but when we have a recruit coming on campus the "first impression" is where I spend most of my time preparing.  By making a great first impression we have now set the tone for a positive visit.


When recruits and their families come on a visit, it is oftentimes their first experience on your campus.  They have a sense of insecurity and may have a lot of questions.  You've already earned their trust and respect by making a great first impression, but now you need to build their confidence in you and your university.  One way we can do this is to have many of their questions answered before they are even asked.    

As the recruiting coordinator, I maintain constant communication with all of our departments on campus.  When we are planning a visit, I will coordinate with our Welcome Center to prepare every aspect of that visit.  As I introduce the family to our Welcome Center personnel, they are handed a packet that contains an itinerary, meal passes, and information about the university and their intended area of study.  Inside they will find meetings with admissions counselors, class schedules, tours, etc.  We always appeal to the recruits needs and make sure we accomplish everything their family wants to accomplish during their visit.  Being prepared answers several questions right away that the family may have been wanting to ask.  Again, by doing this we are building confidence in the recruit and his family that we will be ready to take care of them.  


Once we get the prerequisites of the visit completed, we want to make our recruit feel like he is a part of our family.  Every team says that they are a family, but very few actually live it out.  In everything we do, we want to be sincere and genuine.

One way that we begin to integrate them into our family is by making introductions to everyone we possibly can.  Our support staff, coaches from other sports, administration, students, etc.  No one is too small or too big to talk to our recruit and their family.  By allowing them to build relationships with people outside of basketball, they will begin to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves.  

We also involve our current players a lot in the process.  Whether its a workout, a meal or a campus tour, we want as much interaction between the recruit and our players.  We find this to be very beneficial because our players can give a first hand perspective of what it is truly like to be a part of our family.  They tell it how it is and give an honest answer to the questions being asked.  


It's always fantastic when a recruit wants to sign on the spot after his visit.  However, we never pressure a recruit to sign before he leaves.  Our staff always sits down with the recruit and his family prior to their departure and have a very transparent conversation.  We want them to be honest with us and let us know what we can do to make us the best fit for their son.  We have the utmost confidence that we did everything we could to make this a special visit for them, so we want to let the process play out.  There is no doubt in our minds that if a recruit is meant to be here, he will be here.  

Campus visits will be different for everyone, but one thing will always be the same.  Recruits and their families want to have confidence not only in your program and your staff, but in the university as a whole.  Can you give them that confidence?  If so, you are going to have a successful future for you and your program!

Photo credit: Derek Eckenroth; Bob Jones University

The ABC's of Recruiting

Being a great recruiter is one of the most important skills that any college coach can possess.  You can be the best X's & O's guy in the world, but without the right people in your program, your success can be short lived.  It is our responsibility as coaches to accurately and effectively recruit  the student-athletes who will succeed in our program and ultimately benefit themselves and the university as a whole.  The foundation of being a great recruiter begins with these "ABC's."


It is very hard to win without talent, so the first step in recruiting a player needs to be an assessment of his abilities.  It is important that we gain an idea and form an opinion of the player as soon as we first lay eyes on him.  Raw athleticism and highlight worthy dunks are intriguing, but make sure that you do your due diligence and pay attention to the finer details of a player's game.  Does he see the floor well?  Can he dribble with his left hand?  Is his strength & conditioning at a place we can continue to build on?  Does he have a solid basketball IQ?  The list could go on and on, but you get the idea.  Don't be lured in by a player that can do a 360, but can't shoot, dribble, or defend.  Make sure that the attributes of his game will fit well in your program and be a solution to your needs as a team.  


Most coaches are pretty good at the first step of recruiting and can assess talent very well, but they lack the ability to build a relationship with that player.  High school and college age student-athletes want to be mentored and challenged by you as a coach, so take advantage of the opportunity to pour into their life as much as you possibly can.  I understand that there are rules and guidelines that make this step in recruiting difficult, but that shouldn't mean you can't do it.  Be creative and diligent in building quality relationships even if you are limited in the amount of time you can contact the recruit.  Use the time you have to ask questions about their friends, family, dreams, and life after college.  Don't limit your communication to only basketball related topics.  Make sure the recruits know that you care about them for more than just their ability to play basketball.  


This is easily the most difficult aspect of recruiting.  It's relatively easy to find talent and you can force yourself to build a relationship with recruits, but it is extremely hard to see what kind of person they truly are.  Players want to be recruited and they will do almost anything to make you think they deserve a scholarship, but how will they respond when adversity presents itself?  It is your job as a coach to look for signs of character throughout the recruiting process.  How does he respond to a bad call?  Is his body language telling me something positive or negative?  How does he talk to his parents?  Does he seek counsel or does he have all the answers?  How does he treat the people around him?  Again, the list could go on and on.  Obviously, there is no perfect kid out there who will never make a mistake, but it is the job of the coach to decide whether or not a player has the character that will represent your program's culture the way you want it.  Don't settle for poor character just because a recruit is an amazing athlete.  Talent is never enough and a player with no character will hurt your team more than they can help it.  

If you can effectively perform these "ABC's" while recruiting players for your team, I am confident that you will be setting your program up for future success!