SOCIAL MEDIA: It’s this world where pretty much anything goes, where you may say things that you might not say to people in person. Where you can update your family, friends, acquaintances or enemies on pretty much any aspect of your life. How well you slept last night, or how tired you are after a hard workout, or how you ate breakfast for dinner like I’m doing right now as I write this blog post (oh…and of course the random cat videos and celebrity gossip too, we can’t forget that).
Pretty much EVERYONE is on social media. But what are the rules around using social media during recruiting? Is it ok to tweet coaches or message them on Facebook? Is it ok to send coaches video links, or my online profile link over social media? Is it ok to comment on a teams posts on Instagram?
The NCAA has rules for recruiting, timelines, dead periods, number of contacts a coach is allowed with an athlete, rules that regulate your eligibility and dictate high school course selection. Social media,however, is far less regulated. As long as coaches follow a few basic rules, anything can go on social media:
- Coaches must still adhere to recruiting timelines that tell them what age they may begin contacting a prospective student athlete. This means any coaches calling, emailing and reaching out through social media platforms have to wait until June 1st after your grade 11 year of high school.
- Once coaches are allowed to communicate with you openly over email, they may begin to use the functions on social media sites that are similar to email correspondence. This includes the direct message feature on Twitter and the Inbox feature on Facebook. The important part about this is that direct messaging is person-to-person communication.Coaches are NOT allowed to post any communication with a prospective student athlete in a public forum.
Coaches cannot write on a recruit’s facebook wall.
Coaches cannot Instant Message a recruit, in fact text messaging is banned.
Coaches cannot @reply to a twitter message a recruit sent them
Coaches CAN send private messages on facebook or Direct Messages on Twitter during open contact periods to recruits
Following your target teams on Instagram or Twitter is a good way to stay up to date with how their season is going, and get an idea about the personality and team cohesion. If you want to connect via social media with one of the coaches keep your messages personal, and direct – you don’t need or want to share this communication with the world, and coaches cannot and most likely do not want it to be public either.
Some coaches and teams are more active than others on social media, and like anything you send your messages out to them and you may or may not get a response. Social media should not be a replacement for sending initial contact emails, or phone calls. However, if you find you have been emailing and calling and have not had very much interest then in some instances social media may open a door that would otherwise be closed.
The other side of this social media conversation is how to manage your personal accounts to insure you are making the right impressions with recruiters. Here are some important guidelines to follow for prospective student athletes:
- Every day of your recruiting journey is a job interview: put your best foot forward in everything you do, and especially everything you post for others to see.
- Take pride in yourself and your personal brand: You are a serious student athlete, with big aspirations for playing in college and beyond. Coaches of Universities, National or Professional teams all want to recruit focused athletes that will be quality representatives of their team, athletic department and school. Make sure your social media accounts reflect this.
- Be aware of what other people are tagging you in: Just because YOU aren’t posting pictures, doesn’t mean undesirable, unethical or inappropriate pictures are not getting put up on the internet and are not connected to your name. Do a scan periodically of the pictures you are tagged in and remove anything that does not align with the image you want to portray to coaches.
- Be aware of ‘pranks” You know; That time you forgot to log out and a ‘friend’ posted something rude on your wall? It might only take one comment for your target coaches to cross you off their list. Don’t allow a miscommunication or mistake to affect everything you’ve worked hard to get.
- Test everything with the Mom Rule: If you can’t say it front of your mother, don’t say it. If you can’t show that picture to your mother, don’t post it. If your mother wouldn’t approve of that outfit, don’t wear it.
- Use common sense. Always.
- Keep in mind that your recruiting journey is very personal. What may be best for you isn’t necessarily best for your team mates, or friends, and vice versa. Keep your recruiting plan to yourself and don’t post about what schools you are talking to, or about scholarships, or hint at decisions or commitments you have made on facebook until it’s a done deal, and your NLI has been signed.
Do you have a question about using social media in recruiting?
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