"I do not like to text. I will not message on a plane, I will not Skype on a train. I do not tweet before a game, and can not Facebook friend you in the rain. I do not like social media my good man, for I am coach Tom Izzo I am."
I don't blame the dude!
If you're old or a luddite or just generally pretty lazy, slowly submerging your social genitals in the freezing cesspool that is online media can be a pretty daunting task. Why should you have to learn all the ins and outs of a system of communication that'll be obsolete in a few years anyway? Might as well just stick to the tried and true can with a bit of string in it method.
And that can work for most of us. Most jobs, even now, don't really require people to be online bon vivants. Yeah you need to learn how to open up your e-mail and forward hilarious cat pictures to the rest of the office, but in general as long as you don't mix up "reply" and "reply all" you'll be fine.
But you are not a college coach, responsible for the recruitment of players that will lead your program to success and bolster a multimillion dollar athletic department. You are not a highly visible member (probably the most highly visible member) of your institution, where the public hangs on your every word. Your job isn't beholden to the whims of teenagers on a daily basis.
Or maybe it is. In which case you were probably shaking your head when you saw this quote from Tom Izzo:
"I think that's the one thing that I'm trying to adjust to," Izzo admitted. "With the new social media way of doing things, kids are seeing things a lot more, a lot quicker. So I think we as coaches have to adjust to it some way. If you got a good way, send me a note, would ya?"
SAD. Izzo may be one of the greatest college basketball coaches of all time, but let's be real here: you've gotta love this stuff, Tom, even if you hate it. Because let me tell you as a high school teacher, this is how kids communicate in 2013. It's really really stupid, but are messages of 140 characters or 6 second videos really any more stupid than messenger pigeons or telegraphs?
Well, yeah. They are. But you might as well deal with it because you can bet Thad Matta is making as many Vines and Tweets and Facebooks and whatevers as his big fat sausage fingers possibly can. So I'm gonna do you a solid, Izzo, and let you in on the secret of social media. Here's that note you requested to get you started on your interweb adventure!
I've had a Twitter account for about two and a half years, and in that time I managed to accumulate a little over 1300 followers. I gain followers here and there as the year goes on, but there have been two events that led to me getting about 200+ followers in one fell swoop. The first was an incident where Andy Staples of SI.com told the universe that he didn't want stupid followers, and I countered by pointing out that I want the dumbest followers possible. I instantly gained 75 new people eager to read my rants and ramblings, safe with the knowledge that I won't pass judgment on their obvious stupidity. The second was when I instantly gained over 125 new followers just by covering the Army All-American Bowl while not providing any real insight into recruiting whatsoever.
So what I've learned, Tom, is this: people are stupid and love to be pandered to. When you finally get around to making a Twitter account, I suggest flooding it with coupons for your BBQ joint of choice while simultaneously raving about your favorite Nickelback album.
"But what about the kids," you scream while tearing your hair out, "how do I get these ADHD hellions to think I'm cool?"
Guess what. They've got an app for that. It's called Vine, and while 99% of subscribers use it to further their egos and sense of entitlement through mildly amusing six second video clips, you can use it to make an ass out of yourself while fellating the egos of teenage athletes. TO WIT: a simple video that should illuminate this process.
Texting is tricky. It can ruin lives or build empires. Wielded correctly, your text game can secure your legacy and keep those recruits rolling in at a steady pace.
One thing to keep in mind is that the content of your texts don't really matter nearly as much as their volume. The NCAA really doesn't seem to be able to reach an agreement on how often or how much or when coaches should be able to text potential recruits, so it's best to straight up ignore whatever the rules are and send as many as you can before tips of your fingers start to bleed.
And you can literally talk about anything, which means you have an excuse to text whenever you feel like it.
"Hey buddy, did you see Monsters University? I really think of myself as more of a Sully, but my friends think I'm more of a Mike. Anyway, what's new with you?" "O.M.G. I just ate a hot dog and it was aaammaaaziiinnnggg!"
Tom, I realize that this probably seems incredibly childish and patronizing. And to you, a grown man in his late 50's who has had great personal success, it would be.
But for 17 year old kids who have a tattoo of Dory on their asses, that's exactly what they're referring to when they tell the media later that they committed to you because of the "family atmosphere" surrounding your program.
Facebook is terrible.
I hate Facebook for a lot of reasons, not in the least because of how much bullying goes on between teenagers over it, but one of the bigger reasons is that you're more or less forced to put your life out there for everyone to see and gawk at.
For me, a weird shut in with few friends who tends to keep it that way, the constant badgering by Facebook to add personal information is super irritating. My life isn't sufficiently interesting anyway, and I'm not a huge fan of every advertiser on Facebook knowing that I'm the world's biggest Milo and Otis devotee (dead puppies be damned).
But for you, Tom Izzo, college basketball coach tasked with connecting with young people, this is a golden opportunity. Which is why it's especially distressing to see you completely blowing it on your current Facebook profile page. Let's take a look:
I assume that this is the "official" Tom Izzo page, but since it hasn't been updated since 2009, who the hell knows. Maybe a pteranodon was the admin at that point.
To begin with "Public Figure" may be accurate, but Crazy Lady In Cow Suit Who Peed On Her Neighbors' Porches is also a "Public Figure." "Basketball coach" is better, but something like "NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP WINNING LIFE MOTIVATOR" works best.
You picture should also not cut off the top part of your head, unless you have some weird disfigurement like Mel Gibson in that one movie, you know, the one where he didn't have a face? I think it was called Lethal Weapon 4. Anyway, replace it with a hot chick with stickers in the shape of your face covering her boobs, post haste.
Finally, PICTURES. Pictures of everything. You food, your haircuts, your boo, your dog, a weird bug you saw on a stick, whatever. It doesn't have to be relevant to anything, because you aren't shooting for insight here: the goal is to convince people that every small, boring-ass, mundane interaction that you have hundreds of on a given day is somehow important and worthy of attention.
Even if it's not. Especially if it's not, because what you're trying to do is impress teenagers, who are alternately the easiest and most difficult group to impress with anything. Just make sure to wear your championship rings in every shot.
So that should do it, Tom! Follow these steps and you'll be well on your way to being a Social Media Expert. Maybe not to the level of a Bret Bielema, but hell nobody's perfect. Have fun with it, don't be a dumbass, for the love of God buy a separate phone, and hopefully you won't be saying this to yourself ever again.