What you publish online via social media – regardless of what app you are using or what your expectations are – is not “private.” It’s not “yours.” It will be seen by others and they will judge you for it.
Whether student/athletes want to accept it or not, social media plays an vital role in how they are perceived by prospective college recruiters. In the age of smartphones and a real-time information society, your social media has become as much a part of your recruiting resume as your film and your transcripts and test scores. Gone are the days when one graduate assistant would occasionally check the social media of prospective recruits – now recruiters keep themselves aware of what you’re posting (and in many cases what your friends may be posting about you) 24/7/365.
Many people blame Johnny Manziel and his well chronicled (via social media) off the field issues for the uptick in monitoring the social media of recruits – but the truth is that recruiting has been trending this way for quite a while now. At a previous coaching stop, I had a recruit who was set to receive an offer from an academically prestigious FBS school when he went for his official visit. The weekend came and went … the visit went well … but no offer ever came. Weeks later, in speaking with the recruiter, I found out that there were red flags on this young man’s social media and they ultimately decided it was reason enough to pass on him. A handful of ill advised tweets and retweets cost him a full scholarship to a Division I school that had a cash value of $170,000-$211,000.
Gone. Over with. Not coming back ever.
But it doesn’t stop with athletic recruiting … some colleges and many businesses have begun including social media as part of their background check process. The reality is that what a person posts or likes or retweets or shares or whatever is a window into that person’s personality. What a person’s friends or followers are focused on is seen as a reflection of that person. There is no expectation of privacy when it comes to social media.
No matter how “secure” you imagine your set-up is, you are always one screenshot away from anything you post or send being out there for everyone.
Put simply, whatever you post on your Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat or Chat or Messenger or whatever has to be the kind of thing that your coaches, parents, grandparents, priest/preacher/reverend, etc.would approve of. That’s a challenge for many prospective recruits.
Of even greater challenge is protecting yourself from the world around you – because where there’s a phone, there’s a camera … all the time. Before you allow yourself to be in a picture, look at what the people around you are drinking, how they’re dressed, how they present themselves and make sure that after the picture is taken and posted and you are tagged in it (because at the point it is out of your control), it’s still something you would be OK with posting yourself.
There was an advertisement for a camera years ago where the athlete/spokesperson said “Image is everything.” While image (or perception) is really only PART of the equation, understand that the sole reason for recruiters monitoring your social media is to find reasons to eliminate you from consideration for a scholarship. Even if you have committed somewhere, until you have signed a binding letter of intent, any red flag could cause an offer to be pulled.
There are some additional articles posted to the “Recruiting Info” area of the website that further elaborate on both the positive and negative effects social media can have on the recruiting process – as well as some insights into the changing NCAA rules over social media and recruiting.
Click HERE to go the Recruiting Articles page to check them out and further educate yourself on this important part of your image and your brand.