Why Hire Me?

Hello everyone, welcome to my “Why Hire Me,” before we get into specifics, check out this brief elevator pitch about who I am.

I am both a social media expert and a soccer expert

Why I am a Social Media Expert

Because of my course work this past semester coupled with several internships I have had, I am a social media expert. Through the creation of a comprehensive mock social media plan, I have a very thorough and practical understanding of social media and the way it can be used for business purposes. Take a look below at the social media calendar I crafted for a café and market in northwest D.C.

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I additionally wrote up a 4 page report analyzing and coming up with improvements for the café’s social media. Take a look at a few sample pages below.
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Through this assignment and plan I have demonstrated the ability to:
  • Analyze and understand social media accounts.
  • Differentiate between and understand the advantages of different types of content.
  • Compare competitor’s social media.
  • Set social media goals and provide realistic plans to work towards them.
  • Identify target demographics and set strategies to reach them.
  • Develop actual content
  • Use analytics to understand and improve social media platforms

Why I am a Subject Matter Expert

Experience. Experience. Experience. I have spent most of life in some way participating in the worlds most renowned game. Whether it has been playing soccer from the age of 6  all the way up to the high level club team I played on as a senior in high school, I know the game backwards and forwards. Check out the goal that my 13 year old self scored in the video below.

But my experience in the game does not end on the playing field. I have been a referee for almost 8 years now, have coached at the high school level, professional academy level, internationally in Italy, and have worked in the offices of professional organizations. Throughout my use of this blog I have talked about soccer from a variety of different perspectives;

business

https://jacksafrankoblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/07/is-the-expansion-of-american-soccer-too-much-too-soon/

technology

https://jacksafrankoblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/goal-line-technology-in-la-liga/

youth development

https://jacksafrankoblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/09/molding-the-future-of-american-soccer/

and a myriad of others. My holistic understanding of the game and wealth of experience demonstrated by this blog show why I would be a great addition to any organization.

Social Media Trends People Need to Know About

Let’s take a turn back to social media for a moment and look at the bigger picture. I have learned a lot this semester through my social media course, not only from my professor but from my peers too. Below are several of my classmates comments on current issues and trends in social media.

What can we learn? The tone of social media is changing, especially when it comes to professionals and politicians. Perhaps it has been kick started by Trump’s rhetoric, perhaps not. But the way people are talking on social media is changing.

What can we learn? This is a sign of things to come. We did several readings throughout the course on the reach and dominion of social media in comparison to government. Will tech companies and social media eventually be more powerful than governments? Maybe not currently, but this is just a measure of how truly powerful social media is already.

What can we learn? Facebook is all powerful, always changing and adapting, adopting features from other platforms. It has its claws in everything.

I have also had to do some tweeting myself this past semester. Let’s take a look at some of my comments on the world of social media.

What can we learn? Social media is compressing the news. People get their daily news consumption from 4-5 words rather than a several hundred word article. The New York Times and many other papers have found a happy medium and crated these “daily briefings.” I read them every morning and recommend checking it out.

What can we learn? Once again, Facebook is ALL powerful. If they are not already ingrained in every facet of life, they will be soon.

What can we learn? There is an ongoing debate regarding “slacktivism” (we will talk more about this later), and opinion is divided. But the takeaway, as Senator Booker notes, is this: be an online activist, but not exclusively online.

What can we learn? We all know that social media is taking over the world. However this is not without bumps in the road. Different cultures and societies adapt to and accept social media in different ways.

 

The Bigger Picture

Before I sign off, I want to reflect on two very relevant topics in social media; activism and memory. One article that really struck me from this past semester was this piece below.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-malcolm-gladwell

It talked about “slacktivism” or the growing trend of people as activists on social media. The term refers to people who show their support for activist movements, seemingly only on social media. This means they aren’t actually doing anything and are just slackers then? Right? Maybe not. According to the article I have shared, social media activists can be just as important as real life activists, if not more important. In my opinion, both are necessary for a successful activist movement. While feet on the ground are crucial for the execution of a movement, the awareness that social media raises is unrivaled in previous eras.

The next topic, memory, is somewhat of an unnerving one. Social media never forgets, and it never will. When we die, our social media lives on, and in a way so do we. But how can this be positively spun? Our victories, and the highlights of our life are on record. It is almost like a resume that updates itself. Furthermore, one of the biggest cliches in the book is the idea that looking at the past can help one improve for the future. Well, social media has a record of the past like humans have never had before, so I would like to think that means we can forge better futures for ourselves like never before.

How is this relevant to you as my potential employer? Let’s take a quick look at my
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While these analytics are just representative of my Instagram, I would say they also represents my activity on all social media. In other words, while I have a deep understanding of social media, I do not use it habitually. I am no social media activist, I would like to say I prefer action in real life. The long and short of it is that I live in and understand the digital realm as much as the next person, but I would also say that I live in, experience, and take action in the real world more than your average person. I believe this is the perfect balance to strike as a person and worker in the coming age of social media. As for memory, I think this blog and the rest of my social media accurately represent and document my wealth of experiences in soccer.

Thanks for reading, and as always, Go Barca!

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Social Media Fast – A Reflection

This week I will be totally switching gears in order to discuss a social media fast that I took part in this past weekend. For 24 hours, from 2 o’clock on Saturday to 2 o’clock on Sunday, I refrained from all social media and email, and tried to do so with texting (excluding the occasional message necessary for logistical reasons in my weekend.)

Before I dive into discussing the themes of behavior, identity, and commercialism, I want to note that this weekend was a unique one for me. I was away at Virginia beach for a weekend with my friends, from Saturday morning to Sunday morning (roughly the same time as the social fast.)

I think this may have made the fast an easier and less jarring experience for me. I mean imagine needing to look at your phone with this in front of you.

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Behavior

Because I was away at the beach for the weekend, I was always busy in a sense. Not perhaps lying in my dorm room like I may have been had I stayed in D.C. for a normal weekend. Therefore I would say my day to day behavior was abnormal during my social fast.

For me, I look at social media primarily as a way to stay connected with my friends and see their day to day activities. My greater friend group happened to be on this weekend trip with me, so I found my need for social media was less apparent. I think this certainly means I was more plugged into the real world for the weekend. I found myself having conversations I certainly would not have had otherwise with people I would not have spoken to otherwise.

I had little to no alone time or “bored” time over the course of the 24 hours, but found myself feeling somewhat naked without my phone. I kept it in my bag for most the trip and would often think I was forgetting something when moving from place to place. The fast certainly made me realized the presence of the roughly 5 inch object always in my left pocket is ingrained in my psyche. I noticed an extremely common time for my friends to use their phones was either waitingin a line or waiting for food to come at a restaurant. At these points I certainly became slightly frustrated as I did not have access to my technology while other people were immersed in theirs.

Identity

When it comes to identity, this weekend made me realize that being constantly plugged in to social media makes me anxious. While there is not necessarily something to be anxious about, the implicit need to compulsively check all forms of social media every few minutes is alarming, it is almost like a nervous tick. While I was able to not spend the day posting things, I found myself still thinking about what I was going to post the next day. While this is not surprising to me, I think this just goes to show how ingrained I am in my various platforms. Taking a break was very refreshing, however when I returned to my social media at 2 o’clock on Sunday, I found myself feeling “behind” in a sense.

Commercialism.. or not?

Commercialism, in my own personal belief, takes a small role in my social media usage. Perhaps it occurs in ways that I myself have no observed or are aware of, but I like to use my social as a way of staying in touch more than anything. I post on Instagram once every month or so, Snapchat story maybe once every two weeks, and almost never on Facebook. Yet I simultaneously spend probably well over three hours on these apps each day. While I may be commercial in my consumption choice, I am not in my production efforts.

A quick look at some of my own Instagram analytics below shows the infrequency of my posting, despite my extremely frequent checking of my news feed.Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 6.00.10 PM.png

 

Overall, this fast from social media has not only taught me how I interact with it, but also how I can live without it.

Finally, before signing off my blog for the semester it is only fitting to end with some soccer content… specifically Lionel Messi’s winning goal over arch rival Real Madrid today. Check it out below.

Can Barcelona Produce Another Miracle?

While I have more recently turned to blogging about my career in coaching, and strayed away from talking about current news in the professional game, I cannot help but write about my favorite team this week. F.C. Barcelona is currently in the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League, the premiere competition in world soccer, the most highly prized trophy. In the previous round of the tournament Barcelona engineered the best comeback in Champions League history. Each round is comprised of a two game series (team with the most goals at the end wins), and after being down 4-0 in the first game to Paris Saint Germain, they came back to win the second game 6-1 in nothing short of a miracle.

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Now, Barcelona are faced with much tougher task. After losing to Italian team Juventus F.C. 3-0 in the first game, they must overturn this deficit against a much more organized, talented, and simply overall better team. They’ve done it before, and it will take another Herculean effort to overcome this one.

While many Barcelona fans will have given up on this match already, I still have hope. This Barcelona team is carried by their three forwards, the so called “trident” comprised of Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez (pictured below.)barcelona-cropped_umtst3k05mpd1tx7zfusess6j.jpgPhoto Credit: Four Four Two

These three players are considered by many to be the top three players in the game. Whenever they take the field in tandem, there is most certainly a chance to win, no matter how big the deficit.

Molding the Future of American Soccer

As I have previously discussed on this blog, I have recently begun working in a new role at D.C. United, the Major League Soccer team in the District of Columbia. Having previously been an intern working on training programs and camps, I now assist with the under 11 academy team. For those that are unclear, academy teams are affiliated youth soccer programs that groom the best young players in the country to eventually be professional players for their respective teams. The D.C. United team I now assist with is comprised of 10 and 11 year old kids who are essentially the most talented players of their age in the DMV area.

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Photo cred: D.C. United Website

I have now been to three training sessions with the team and so far it has been a very fruitful experience. The most striking thing about seeing these kids train is the level of professionalism and focus they keep at such a young age. While working with summer camps in the past, the kids that attend can range from having never touched a soccer ball in their life to being decent to being quite good. However the constant at these camps is that they are generally just their to have fun and mess around and can sometimes be very difficult to handle from discipline standpoint. This is not the case with the u11 academy team. These kids are all business. The level of seriousness with which they approach training sessions is incredible and rare for kids of their age. After all, this is the reason they are good enough to play for a professional academy team. Not to mention how talented these kids are. Check out the video below to see them in a game.

This has all amounted to the most rewarding coaching experience I have had so far. The kids are eager to learn, ready to listen, and always focused. Similar to teaching in a classroom, having students (or players) who care makes it a totally different experience for the teacher.

For more info about the D.C. United Academy check out the link below.

https://www.dcunited.com/academy

On a totally separate note, I want to provide some reflection on my blog after looking over some analytics. I have used the internal analytics of wordpress in order to take a look at what is working, what isn’t, and how I can improve.

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This breakdown of my views and visitors by week is very telling for me. Right off the bat I can see that my posts that get the most engagement include content that is easy for readers to understand and relate to. With my blog, I find I can sometimes get caught up in terminology and story lines that only soccer fans would care about and understand. When I simply concepts and make them more relevant to my peers in this class I get more comments and views.

According to other statistics, the hour people most frequently view my blog is 5:00 pm. Therefore, in order to boost engagement I should first of all try to post around 4:30 pm. Additionally, I need to consistently simply my content and bring it farther from the intricacies of the game and more towards my experiences. Finally, I could reach people outside of our course by tweeting about my blog posts.

Schweinsteiger’s Debut Goal Represents a Change in American Soccer

This past weekend German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger scored his debut goal in Major League Soccer for the Chicago Fire. While this may seem like an insignificant event in a long Major League Soccer season, it represents a change in the league and culture of American soccer.

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Photo Credit: Goal.com

Schweinsteiger is a symbol in Germany. While he is past his prime, in his day he was one of the top players in Europe. A world cup champion with an extremely decorated career, Schweinsteiger was not only the face of German soccer but one of the faces for European soccer. His move from Manchester United to the Chicago Fire is a huge move for Major League Soccer, there is no doubt about it. While big European players moving to the United States to play out the end of their careers is not a new concept, European players moving to cities like Chicago is a new trend. In the earlier years of the league, major soccer players entering the league would find their home in New York and Los Angeles. These two major markets attracted big players, naturally because of their glamour factor. However, the tendency of foreign stars to gravitate to these two cities created disparity in the league. Two teams top heavy with European stars is not helpful for the league.

Luckily, this trend is changing and Bastian Schweinsteiger is exhibit A. While Chicago can be considered a big market, it is not historically the type of city to attract European superstars. Schweinsteiger making a move to Chicago sets a precedent for other big name players to do the same and sign with teams in a variety of different locations and markets. As of late, with other players like Tim Howard and Kaka moving to Colorado and Orlando respectively, the league is moving in the right direction.

Check out my infographic depicting the percentage of big players in New York and LA all time versus this year.

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Soccer in the District

Since my last blog post I have once again begun working at my internship. Starting last spring I became an intern for D.C. United, the Major League Soccer team for Washington D.C. This was a huge step for my personal career and has been not only a beneficial and educational experience, but also a fun one. As an intern last spring and summer I worked primarily with D.C. United youth camps and training programs. My day to day activities included promotion and marketing, tracking revenue, and basic administrative tasks. However during actual camp and training program weeks I was able to get out on the field and teach some soccer.

During each week of summer camp, a player from the D.C. United professional team would come to meet the kids and do a few minutes of coaching. While I myself was a coach during camps, I have to say I found myself briefly as a fan again. This past summer I was able to meet and chat with D.C. United captain Bobby Boswell. Below you can check out Bobby giving some tips to campers.

As I begin working at D.C. United again this spring my role has slightly changed. While I will still be working with training programs and camps I have begun to work with the actual academy teams. I will be assisting with training sessions for the 11 year old age group of the academy in order to get some high level coaching under my belt.

While I will be putting in work in the D.C. United office I also plan on catching as many games as possible this spring. If anyone is looking for a fun afternoon or evening with high quality entertainment come out to RFK stadium to see DC’s finest.

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Photo Cred: Washington.org

Is the Expansion of American Soccer Too Much Too Soon?

Major League Soccer, the top professional soccer league in the United States, is a work in progress, there’s no doubt about it. Once looked at as a sub par league where aging European stars go to live out there final days in the sport with fat paychecks and low expectations, Major League Soccer is gaining traction and expanding with vigor.

At the leagues conception in 1996 there were a total of 10 teams. Expansion began slowly, with only two teams added in the next 10 years. After this period of time a slew of expansion teams entered the league between 2006 and 2016 with an additional 8 teams entering the league. By the end of the 2017 season there will be 22 teams in Major League Soccer. With the league expanding into new markets such as the Pacific Northwest in the form of Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver (with great success), professional soccer is now available to most of the nation. The question is this vast expansion too much too soon? Yes, soccer is growing in the United States, both in organization and in interest, but is the league stretching too thin? While the quality of the soccer itself has improved with the increased arrival of quality players, I am not quite sure there is enough talent in the pool to sustain 22 high quality soccer teams. Will teams such as Minnesota F.C. and Atlanta United draw enough top flight players to find any form of success? Only time will tell, however I would advise the league to halt their expansion after this year.

If the United States can give itself time to build up its soccer infrastructure, then it can fully capitalize on its large amount of teams. If youth development can improve, and quality soccer specific stadiums can be built, the league can reach its fully potential. I hope more than anything to one day see American soccer at the same level as European soccer. They have the right idea, there’s no doubt about it, but Major League Soccer could benefit from a little patience.

Speaking of expansion, new team Altanta United played their debut game this past weekend. Check out the highlights below

A big Major League Soccer fan myself, I am excited to be traveling home this weekend to New Jersey to catch the New York Red Bulls first home game of the season.. I will be writing about it next week!