Section 1

If you already have a social media profile or profiles set up across various social media platforms, then there’s no doubt that you have an audience online, and more than likely, you have an audience that is much larger than you think. I can guarantee you that people that you don’t even know are looking at your online content, they’re looking at your profiles, and they’re making decisions about you, your worth, your value, whether to give you opportunities or take them away or move past you, based on what they find. Your audience is always much larger than you think on social media.

Think about the crowd watching a tennis game. You are just like that player out there on court, communicating back and forth with friends and partners and other accounts you follow, hitting that ball of communication back and forth. It might be sending out a tweet, it might be responding to a comment, it might be sharing a Facebook post or liking a Facebook post. People are watching, more people than you realise.

Players might know that in the audience and in the crowd of their social media is their friends and family, you know, a partner, a coach, some sponsors. There’s some people you definitely know are in that audience. But think about the grand slam final for Roger Federer or Serena Williams. There’s no way that they would ever know everyone in that audience. That audience is constantly changing, and they’re constantly making up their mind about you.

Have you ever been to the podium? Have you ever been the one representing your team or school or club or organisation, in front of the media in a press conference situation or been interviewed by a journalist? They’re the types of things that people think about when they’re broadcasting a message. That microphone, and you know you’re talking into it, iS live and everything you say is being recorded and judged. But when it comes to social media, people often forget that what they’re saying, what they’re posting, once it’s out there, just like that live microphone in an interview, it’s out there for good. It’s out there for other people to do with what they will. They can take that content and share it any way they like. They can take that content and they can interpret it any way they like.

Of course, if you’re sharing great content, fantastic. You want that message to get out there. But if you haven’t taken the time to think about what you’re saying, to think before you post, then you can get yourself into some trouble. This model is all about thinking before you post. Being aware that your actions have consequences. What you share online, yes you might be free to say almost anything in a multiple of places, in a multiple of ways, but there will be consequences.

Make no mistake that people that aren’t thinking before they post, are putting content out that’s damaging their reputation, negative content online, inappropriate language, inappropriate imagines, inappropriate text and sharing, trolling, cyber-bullying. All that stuff that is frowned upon. All those warnings you get as a young person on social media to be careful. This stuff actually matters. It really impacts your opportunities. I can guarantee, and I know, that people are being skipped over for opportunities, whether it’s to be recruited to teams or clubs, schools or colleges, or to be given sponsorship or even leadership opportunities, because red flags are popping up on their social media that they’re not someone to be associated with. Their reputation is not great online. They didn’t think before they posted.

Now, some people find out that social media’s been the reason that they’ve been brought down, brought undone, because of what they’ve posted. But some people, and this is probably the majority actually, don’t find out that’s the reason. So they just continue on that negative behaviour on social media. It’s so important that every time you post you run through your head, is this helping me or is it hurting me? I like to use this acronym for THINK: is what I’m saying true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? And is it kind? I think that’s a great place to start when you’re thinking before you post.

Unlike the average person, athletes or aspiring athletes, are looking to reach a level of excellence. They’re looking to reach a level in their sport or in their athletic pursuit where the spotlight. Where they are winning games, winning matches, breaking records, being promoted, playing in great leagues, playing in great teams, and doing great things in their sport. With that comes attention, and the spotlight shines very, very brightly on athletes at certain times. So it’s time to be aware and it’s important to start being aware that when that spotlight shines, will you be ready for the attention? Particularly on your social media.

Where numerous athletes come undone is that they haven’t taken the time to think ahead that their audience is about to increase sometime soon, that the spotlight is about to shine on them. They haven’t thought ahead to think actually I might be drafted in six months time. Maybe I should start taking some steps to removing content from my social media pages or start adjusting it, tweaking it a little bit, to become more professional.

The other aspect of it is it’s probably the first time for a lot of young athletes and athletes in general, that the attention is really strong on what they’ve shared online. For a long time, as you’ve grown up with your social media accounts, things have been kept private, you haven’t shared too much about yourself, but the attention also hasn’t been there. It’s coming. It’s coming, and that’s great. It’s an opportunity for you to showcase your story, tell your journey on social media and that’s what it’s all about. But be aware.