Social media has dramatically changed the way college coaches recruit athletes. While there is no shortage of many media reports that spotlight prospects dropped by colleges because of the conduct and character they revealed on social media, today’s more savvy recruits use their social media accounts to become more discoverable by college coaches and to showcase their achievements as an athlete, student, and member of their community.
Twitter for college recruiting has become the choice for both college coaches and student-athletes alike. Coaches can follow student-athletes and vice versa and both can take advantage of direct messaging to build a recruiting dialogue.
Can college coaches follow recruits on Twitter?
According to an article entitled, The Power Of A Positive Digital Presence For Athletes from the Family Online Safety Institute, as far back as 2013-2014 season, 83% of college recruiting staffs surveyed were conducting online research of recruits.
As reported in the Knoxville Sentinel, one ambitious football recruit named Adam Bay totally embraced Twitter for college recruiting. “I followed about 1,000 coaches and DM’d about half of them,” Bay said. “It was long process, but it was definitely worth it. Realizing how Twitter was just growing bigger and bigger throughout the years, it was just something I had to do.”
NCAA D1 and D2 coaches for the most part have been able to follow and direct message recruits. However, there are NCAA rules in place regarding not only when, but how coaches can interact with student-athletes on Twitter.
How to create a Twitter for college recruiting profile
Student-athletes need to take a purposeful and strategic approach to use Twitter for college recruiting. It all starts with creating a Twitter profile that will work as hard as you do.
Use these guidelines to optimize your profile on Twitter for college recruiting:
Establish your identity
- Use your real name as a handle. Coaches can’t recruit you if they can’t recognize you. If you have a common name, try adding a middle initial, your jersey number, or position abbreviation to your handle to make it unique.
- Be consistent with your profile pic. Find one great, clear photo preferably in uniform and use it consistently on your social media accounts and online recruiting profile. That way, you are easier to recognize and there’s no mistaking you for someone else.
Key facts first
When coaches, scouts, and recruiting staff search for recruits online there are key pieces of information they want to know right away. Make sure these are included in your Twitter profile.
- Include your high school or club team. Coaches want to know your current team for a number of reasons. For example, it can help gauge your current level of competition or they may know your current coach.
- Don’t forget your class year. Coaches want to know your class year as that will help determine when and how they communicate with you as a potential
- What position(s) do you play? Put your primary position first but include any other position experience you have.
- MUST HAVE: Include a link to your online profile. Coaches don’t have a lot of time, and for most sports, they will want to get right to your highlight or skills video. Make it easy for them to find and include it in your Twitter profile.
- Be sport-specific with your background image. Getting exposure online means you do what you can to set yourself apart and make yourself easy to find. A sport-specific background in combination with your profile pic just makes it that much easier for coaches and scouts know they’ve come to the right place.
How do you get college coaches to follow you on twitter?
Now that you have created a great athlete profile on Twitter, just remember that coaches, directors of admissions and player personnel, among others can all see and read what you say and post in social media. And they won’t stop at just your posts. They could be checking out your friend’s profiles, too. So, before you post, read the student-athlete’s guide to social media.
The easiest place to start is to simply follow the college coaches from your target list of schools, but don’t stop there. Also follow the college on Twitter to get a better sense of what the school is like, and follow assistant, position and even strength training coaches for the programs you are most interested in. Depending on the preferences the coach has set for their account, you can start sending direct messages to the coach. There are two things you will want to avoid when you start to direct message college coaches:
-Asking for scholarship in your first DM
-Blowing up their phone with a fire hose approach to messaging
The best way for you to start is to ask a specific question about the school, the coach, or the program. One, it shows you’ve done some research and have a genuine interest in becoming part of the team and posing a question could help improve your chance of getting a response.
If your online recruiting profile is in good shape with your latest video and academic information, you should always include that in your DMs.
Once you begin following and direct messaging coaches, check out their frequently used hashtags and apply those to your own tweets when it makes sense. You can also include their handle in your tweets to see if that gets them to follow you back.
You can learn more about using Twitter for college recruiting and communicating with college coaches by reading How to Write DMs that Open Coaches’ Doors.
What does it mean if a college coach follows you on Twitter?
There are many reasons why a college coach would follow a student-athlete on Twitter. For example, a coach may be genuinely interested in a recruit and wants to monitor their social activity for any red flags and get a better sense who they are as a person. Or, they may simply want to boost their own number of followers. And sometimes coaches will follow a lot of student-athletes in order to promote their camps.
If a coach follows you on Twitter and responds to your direct messages with more than just a generic note, or DMs you first, that’s a good sign they may be interested in recruiting you.
NCAA Twitter rules
In the not so distant past, college coaches weren’t allowed to interact with recruits on social media until after the athlete had signed a letter of intent.
Since then, new NCAA rules have come into play that, like with other forms of communication including phone, email, and in-person visits, govern when and how coaches can engage with athletes. However, when it comes to using Twitter for college recruiting, student-athletes can always reach out and contact college coaches at any time, they just might not get an immediate response.
A sophomore softball recruit for example, may send a DM to a college coach but they shouldn’t expect a response because coaches cannot have any recruiting contact prior to September 1 of a student-athlete’s junior year. The recruiting rules and recruiting calendars vary by sport, and you can find information for your sport on at ncsasports.org simply by selecting pick your sport in the top menu bar.