It’s no secret that Herb Hand, Penn State’s offensive line coach and run game coordinator, is one of the most socially active coaches in the country. He is well-versed in the art of Twitter, and uses that medium to access many fans and players alike. From the silly things, to the serious discussions, he always seems to know what to say at exactly the right time. Hand was able to talk about his aggressive approach to social media at Media Day on Monday.
“The first thing is that social media is a great avenue to help fans feel involved and to feel like they’re a part of the program,” Hand said. “I try to approach things in that regard, from the fan’s standpoint. You want to let them feel like they’re involved, and that they have the inside scoop. I really enjoy that aspect of it.”
Hand emphasized that another main benefit of Twitter is that the site is his way of connecting directly with the fans, as opposed to only relying on organized football events to get information out.
“Any time that you put something out on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, it’s an opportunity to tell the world about you,” Hand said. “A lot of times, you have other people who want to tell your story. This is my way of telling my own story to the world.”
He also added that these many opportunities can be used in both a very positive and negative way. “We just try to educate guys on painting a positive picture of who you really are,” said Hand. “You really want guys who are more interested in having character, than really being a character.”
This is one of the many things that not only makes Hand so unique, but so incredibly genuine. Coach Hand really cares about his fans, and wants them to feel as though they are a part of the program. With Twitter, he can share his outlooks and give fans a glimpse into the many happenings of Penn State football in his own way.
Hand also realizes the importance of his social media presence on recruiting, and how his #brand can be used as a tool when it comes to selling players on the school you represent. Even little things — such as a “Happy birthday” shoutout — can make a difference when it comes to building a relationship with recruits.
“It’s a huge tool for interaction, mainly. We can direct message guys, while adhering to the many NCAA guidelines and rules that we have to follow, but it’s a great way to get in touch with kids,” Hand said.
Coach Hand also touched on the importance of using social media to research prospects. Penn State takes a potential recruit’s social media very seriously, and even dropped an unnamed recruit a few days ago due to the content he put out on social media.
“Say you’re going to hire somebody. If you want to do an easy research on this person, Google their name, and look up web, images, and news. You can find out a lot about a person, without even getting into their Facebook or Twitter handle yet,” Hand said. He also joked that if his daughter wanted to go on a date with someone, he better friend Hand first so he can “see what the guy is made of.”
While seeing the football coaching staff have an engaging attitude towards social media may be new to Penn State fans — Bill O’Brien and Joe Paterno weren’t necessarily the “social media” types — the football players are excited about the staff having such an online presence.
“I’ve seen the whole evolution,” linebacker Mike Hull said. “Joe didn’t know what Facebook was, O’Brien called Facebook ‘Spacebook,’ and now Coach Franklin [and staff]probably have every social media [platform]there is to have. It’s crazy, but we’re having fun with it.”
After watching Herb Hand the last few months on Twitter, doing everything from giving cooking advice to freestyling a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”, it’s safe to say that the Penn State community is having fun with Herb Hand, too.