For dancesport rookies, social media is crucial to starting and building a professional career and fanbase. Sharing content about one’s dance journey online reaches a wide audience and attracts potential fans. For example, Ohio Star Ball 2021 Junior Grand Slam winners Nathan Zaytsev and Alisa Bankova turn to Instagram's visual format to share their dancesport journey. The amateur ballroom duo post clips of the different dance styles they have performed—from tango to paso doble—and competition photo ops captioned with their wins.
It’s the same for young dancesport athletes and their parents who wish to support their careers. If you share your child’s performances and behind-the-scenes footage online, in turn, you’ll receive love and support, and gain fans. However, the internet isn’t always a safe place, especially for kids. For parents looking to support their young dancesport athletes online, this guide lists the benefits of using social media and how to go about it safely.
Why Dancesport athletes should have a social media presence
Social media is undeniably ubiquitous—more so Instagram, which in 2022, has half a billion active users every day. With a wide audience reach, it’s no surprise that dancesport athletes like Zaytsev and Bankova use social media to make their fans feel more invested in their dance careers. For instance, America’s former representative Katusha Demidova, world champion of professional ballroom from 2009 to 2018, celebrates and reminisces wins with her 10.9k followers on Instagram. As online supporters get to share in your child’s journey, they become loyal fans that help boost your dance athlete’s morale.
How you can utilize social media for your child's dancesport career
But there’s more to having a social media presence than having a community that supports your child. Organizations and sponsors, too, are on social media. The DanceStart Program is always looking for fresh talent to support in their pursuit of a professional career in dancesport. By growing your dance sport athlete’s social media presence, you are increasing their chances of getting the attention of a grant scout or sponsor. To make the most out of social media, and at the same time keep it safe, here are a few do’s and don’ts for your child’s public profile.
Be careful with what you post
There are a lot of dangerous people online. Maryville University informs us about the many dangers of social media for children, the biggest one being online predators. As much as social media can help your child find dancesport fans and friends, it can also expose them to stalkers who might interact with your posts in an uncomfortable way. Plus, anyone can download your child’s social media photos with ill intentions.
The safest way to prevent this from happening is to only post professional dancesport content. Case in point: the well-planned Instagram page of The California Polytechnic State University dancesport team who hosted the Mustang Ball this year. The Cal Poly dancesport team limits its posts to team activities like rehearsals, competitions, dance lessons, and club recruitment. While some of their posts do highlight the team's members, the information is general at most, such as their favorite dance style and preferred pronouns.
Though mature performers find success in a more personal style of content creation (such as a glimpse into your young athlete's day-to-day life), it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep your kid’s public profile professional.
Block hateful commenters
Mean and problematic comments can stunt your child’s growth and affect their mental condition. The National Collegiate Athletic Association emphasizes the importance of athletes' mental health, which can often be overlooked because athletes are known to have amazing focus and strength. Athletes are human too and they can also be distressed by negative comments. Not to mention, it can affect their performance.
Some professional athletes even prefer to stay off social media like the American shot putter Michelle Carter because of this. But for rising stars who need visibility on the platform, blocking hateful commenters or using Instagram’s ‘disable comments’ are the less extreme options.
Highlight their achievements As previously mentioned, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are widely used and far-reaching. With the possibility that your child’s account gets on the radar of sponsors and recruiters, social media tools become handy in showcasing your child's talent. For instance, the California Poly's Dance Team uses Instagram’s story highlights to share snippets from rehearsal and competition. There’s also Facebook, where you can access and share long-form content like SK Dancesport's dance-focused blog posts. Putting your child out there on social media for the world to see can be a daunting prospect. But if you do your due diligence with regards to the safety and privacy risks alongside utilizing social media tools, parents can reap the benefits for their young dancesport athlete’s career.
Article written for the Fordney Foundation
Authored by Riley Jesse