Yesterday on Twitter, SMU Head Football Coach Van Malone shared a photograph of a current “SMU Football Twitter Update” form their staff completes and updates for all prospects, with a message:
We have a team of people who monitor what recruits are putting on social media. Watch what you tweet and retweet. pic.twitter.com/MNjrwSbuEd
— SMU Coach Van Malone (@SMUCoachMalone) September 16, 2015
“We have a team of people who monitor what recruits are putting on social media. Watch what you tweet and retweet,” Coach Malone warns.
Given our era of technology and social media, this may be one of the most impactful tweets and pictures a coach could post using his or her Twitter platform. Social media choices are making or breaking the futures of student-athletes across the country.
Is this hitting home yet?
As you can see in the photo, the SMU Mustangs use three columns to organize and evaluate each recruit’s Twitter activity:
- Identification of the prospect (with picture and Twitter handle)
- Descriptions of the prospects’ Twitter updates
- Statement of commitment
That middle column is most important both because it’s what the coaching staff is analyzing, and because it’s the only column the athlete has control over.
What’s the very first bullet point after the date? A note on negative videos and retweets made by the student-athlete.
Not something you want at the top of any list involving your recruitment.
What if that one bullet is all it took to land you in the pile labeled “We’re Not Interested?”
It clearly gets more positive from there – it even looks like this student-athlete may have taken a look at these tips on how to use social media the right way.
But again, just how detrimental were those inappropriate videos and/or language in his retweets?
It’s so easy to get crossed off of coaches’ lists because of something inappropriate.
Five things not to do on social media
1. Do not post inappropriate pictures or use inappropriate language in tweets or posts — including retweets.
This goes right along with the content Van Malone flagged from one of his prospects. As much of a no-brainer as it seems, inappropriate pictures and language are posted regularly by hopeful collegiate athletes.
Guess what? They’re passed up for the roster spot.
There is no reason – at all – to be posting even possibly questionable content. From pictures of you and your friends – or a singer or actor you may like – to YouTube links to songs with explicit language: even if you think it’s “not that bad,” or “your friend posted it, you were just re-tweeting it,” anything remotely off-color is absolutely not worth it.
2. Do not speak poorly about your teammates, other schools, or the students at either.
This can illicit many levels of damage. From the problems it will bring to your team culture and chemistry, to the questions it will raise about your character, there is no upside to writing mean things about others on the internet.
There’s also something very real called cyberbullying.
Just because you’re sitting behind a computer screen and not saying it to someone’s face doesn’t make it any less hurtful or damaging. And it can get you immediately overlooked by a college coach.
3. Do not trash a teacher or coach.
First of all, this can absolutely only hurt you for two very serious reasons – it could get you kicked off your team, and/or kicked out of school.
More importantly, though, it’s completely classless. Why in the world would a college coach offer a student-athlete who openly bashes their current coach? It doesn’t make much sense. And it won’t happen.
4. Do not insert yourself in controversial conversations or engage in arguments.
This can be tough. Especially if you’re passionate about your beliefs and strong in your convictions, which is an extraordinary way to be.
The thing is, social media isn’t the place to debate, argue, or create controversy on important topics, especially as a student-athlete trying to make the absolute best impression possible on a college coach or school. Save your comments, criticisms, or feelings for the right place, and don’t engage in negative back-and-forth on the internet.
5. Do not post while emotions are running high.
Whether it’s after a huge win, a tough loss, a bad break-up, not getting the grade you hoped, or the curfew you were counting on – posting while emotions are running high is never, ever a good idea.
We may be really happy, or terribly disappointed. Either way, our minds aren’t on the straightest course, which often leads to words we’ll later regret. Wait until you’re level-headed, and have time to really think about whether or not a post is a good idea, before hitting the button.
What if you can’t remember what’s been added to your social media platforms over the years?
There are a few options.
- You can simply delete accounts you may be worried about, at least until your well on your way to the school of your dreams. At many colleges, student-athletes aren’t even allowed to have social media, anyway – at least in season.
- You can scour your back posts, pages, and picture logs on your own for anything that raises a red flag or needs to be deleted.
- Or – and this is my recommendation – you can enlist in the help of a cool company like Varsity Monitor, which can help athletes clean up their accounts.
Whatever you decide, don’t wait. You never know who’s checking out your profiles.
Your digital athletic presence is just as important as your other social media profiles. The best way to take control of it is by creating an athletic recruiting profile today.