In today’s world of college athletic recruiting, there’s no denying that social media is the ultimate “background check.” What you put out there is your brand and how you want to be perceived. College recruiters want to see what kind of person you are because they’re making a major investment in you. If you’re putting the wrong things out there, then it’s real simple…
Doors will close quickly.
The fact is, almost every single college coach in America is now active on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram. Why? Because social media is among the most effective ways for recruiters and recruits to interact.
University of Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck says: “I think social media’s extremely important, because remember, these are young people’s lives. We’re here to be teachers and educators, and that’s the way they communicate. That’s the way they learn. Not many young people pick up the newspaper anymore and read it from front to back. All they do is go on Twitter and social media.”
So what are the rules?
Generally speaking, a coach can follow a prospect and private message them. As of August 2016, the NCAA lessened its burden by removing restrictions on social media. Now a coach can take actions (e.g., “like,” “favorite,” republish, “tag,” etc.) on social media platforms to indicate approval of content that was generated by recruits (or anyone else for that matter).
This means coaches can ‘retweet’ or ‘like’ tweets/statuses of prospective athletes of any age, something previously disallowed until said athlete signed his national letter of intent to the school.
In other words, coaches no longer have to pretend online that their relationships with recruits don’t exist. They can even feel comfortable sharing articles about recruits.
Is social media helping or hurting your college recruitment?
The fact is, your social media behavior can determine whether a school continues to recruit you or not. If you intend to pursue college athletics, then assume someone is always watching.
“We have people that follow social media, that follow players’ Twitter accounts and gain a scholarship or lose a scholarship for some of that stuff, or verify exactly what type of person they actually have,” said Fleck.
How can I utilize social media to engage coaches and help enhance my college opportunities?
Here are a few suggestions on how social media can serve as an important asset in your college recruitment journey.
- Post responsibly! Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship.
- Tell your friends to behave themselves, too! If they don’t, then unfriend/unfollow them. Your college future is too important.
- Follow college coaches on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and stay informed. Your ability to speak about current events/news just might be the difference when it comes to making you an offer.
- Retweet & share coaches’ posts to let them know you are actively engaged in their program. Remember that coaches can retweet your posts, too, but they still can’t tweet directly at you. They can only share, under a policy that’s commonly described as “click, don’t type.”
- Post openly about which programs are showing interest in you, but always be thankful, humble and respectful.