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How to Use Instagram to Get Recruited

Instagram and college recruiting is becoming a popular duo. The highly visual platform allows users to create a highlight reel of their experiences through a series of photos and videos. It is essentially an athlete’s digital sports diary. They also use it to connect with friends, family, and even celebrities and professional athletes. Because of this, coaches look to Instagram to learn more about recruits and how they represent themselves online. Below, we discuss how athletes can use Instagram in recruiting, and the numerous video features you can use to showcase your skills and highlight your personality. 

Do coaches look at Instagram? 

Yes. College coaches are allowed to follow, direct message and interact with student-athletes on Instagram once their appropriate contact period begins. We have found that most coaches follow recruits on Instagram once they’ve established an initial connection or relationship with a recruit on Twitter.  

Think of Instagram as a more in-depth tool coaches use to vet recruits. Seeing how an athlete presents their lifestyle through photos and videos allows coaches to take a deeper dive into an athlete’s character and assess whether they would be a good fit for their program.  

Our recruiting experts have found that some sports, such as volleyball and soccer, rely heavily on Instagram for college recruiting. Do your research and find out where coaches of your sport are most active.

What does it mean if a college coach follows you on Instagram? 

If a coach follows you on Instagram, it likely means they are interested in recruiting you. The first thing you should do is follow them back! Coaches aren’t the only ones who should be using Instagram to evaluate prospects. As you continue to research schools and build your list of target schools, check out their Instagram. It’s important you find the right culture and program fit for you, too.  

How do you get college coaches to follow you on Instagram? 

Should you follow college coaches on Instagram? Or will they find you? If a college coach is actively using Instagram and is interested in recruiting you, they will most likely search for your Instagram profile and follow you first. But since Instagram is not every coach’s social media preference in college recruiting, the responsibility may fall on the student-athlete.  

When it comes to Instagram and college recruiting, be proactive! It is in your best interest to follow coaches and sports programs of schools you are most interested in being recruited to start building a connection. 

Design your Instagram bio for college recruiting 

Like Twitter, student-athletes should take a strategic and professional approach on how to use Instagram for college recruiting. Your Instagram bio should include the basic information coaches need to recruit you. Use your real name and choose a profile photo that shows your face. If possible, these should be identical across all your social media platforms. What to include in your Instagram bio: 

With this information, coaches should easily be able to identify you in their search.  

Make your Instagram bio more desirable to college coaches by including a link to your NCSA profile or highlight video. Athletes should seize every opportunity there is for a coach to see video of them playing their sport.  

You can also include other Instagram handles that you think coaches will find resourceful. For example, a personal trainer and your club or high school team are great examples of accounts that could post positive content of you performing in your sport. 

Instagram bio for college recruiting 

Insider Tip: Only certain users are allowed to include links on their Instagram posts, stories, and reels. Unless you have a verified account or 10,000+ followers the best way to include a link to your highlight video is in your bio. Learn how to include a link to your Instagram bio. 

Use Instagram video  

Like many of its social media counterparts, Instagram has a lot of great features that student-athletes can use to promote their athletic and academic successes to college coaches. But how do you get recruited using Instagram? What sets Instagram apart other social media platforms like Twitter? 

Athletes can feature photos and videos on their Instagram profile in ways that other social media platforms lack. Instagram video is available in five formats: Reels, Live, UGTV, Stories and Posts. You don’t need to utilize all five video formats to get recruited but sharing video content is a great way for athletes to highlight sport on Instagram.  

Use popular hashtags to increase video views or maybe even the possibility of it being shared to the right place for college coaches to view.  

How long can an Instagram video be? 

Why is Instagram good for recruitment? The answer is simple. Coaches want to be able to see you in action and Instagram video allows athletes to feature their skills in a variety of ways.  

The length of an Instagram video depends on the type of format being posted. Here’s a deeper look at the five video features and how athletes can use Instagram in college recruiting. 

How to add highlights on Instagram 

Adding highlights, one of the five Instagram video features, allows users to categorize and display expired stories directly on their Instagram profile. This is a great way for athletes to highlight sport on Instagram and how to use Instagram to get recruited. Create highlights that you think coaches want to know or see about you as a prospective recruit. Below are examples of highlight categories for athletes to use Instagram for college recruiting: 

How to use reels on Instagram 

Instagram reels are relatively new and inspired by another social media platform, TikTok. They are especially popular among users trying to keep up with current social media trends, dances and conversations. Consider reels and how to use Instagram to get recruited to highlight your athletic skills or develop a recruiting pitch to college coaches.  

Take some time to think about who you are as an athlete, what motivates you and what you’re looking for in a coach/program or college experience. Narrow it down to a 30-second interview and post it on your Instagram feed for coaches to view. 

What athletes should post on Instagram 

Now that you have a better idea of the video features, what do coaches want to see on Instagram? Coaches look at Instagram to get a sense of your personality and character. But they also want to see your growth as a player as you continue to develop skills, win games and reach new heights.  

A regularly updated Instagram is an excellent resource for coaches to keep up with you. And how athletes can use Instagram for recruiting. Consider sharing content that highlights your work ethic and gives coaches continuous updates on your athletic and recruiting progress. 

If you are wondering how to use hashtags on Instagram, follow these guidelines for Twitter. Hashtags can help get your Instagram posts more views and coaches to follow you. 

What your Instagram says to college coaches 

Your Instagram profile is a direct reflection of you. Athletic and academic accomplishments can be captured by highlight videos and statistics that coaches can see on paper. But coaches don’t recruit athletes based on talent alone. How do you want college coaches to see you outside of these accomplishments?  

Your posts, stories, comments and even tagged photos say a lot about your character and motivations. For Instagram and college recruiting, it’s important for recruits to find ways to demonstrate the characteristics of successful student-athletes.

Can colleges see my Instagram if it’s private? 

If your account is set to private, a college coach won’t be able to interact with your Instagram. They also might think you have something to hide. It’s best to set all your social media accounts to public so coaches can easily find and recruit you. Remember, once your account is set to public, what you post becomes available to all users.  

Your Instagram profile includes photos that could either help or hurt your chances of being recruited and receiving scholarship offers. Many coaches have gone on the record saying that their recruitment process begins and ends with how a prospect conducts themselves on social media. Always be respectful and think before you post.  

What is a finsta? Should athletes have one? 

Finsta is a popular Instagram trend with young adults. A combination of the words “fake” and “Insta,” it’s used to represent a person’s hidden Instagram account. There are many reasons and motives behind why someone would want to create a secret account. Some may want to distinguish their personal life from professional. Or some may use it to unleash their wild side. Either way, there are pros and cons to owning one.  

As an aspiring college athlete, having a finsta is probably not in your best interest. There are a lot of negative connotations surrounding finstas and what they are used for, mostly inappropriate behavior. If you already have one and you’re posting inappropriate content, consider deleting it as it could raise a red flag when recruiting you. If you wouldn’t post something on your real Instagram because it might be deemed as inappropriate, it’s best to keep it off the internet entirely.  

However, you can put a spin on finstas. Having a separate Instagram and college recruiting profile dedicated to your sport is not necessarily a bad idea. You will be able to showcase your skills and post content that shows college coaches that you can be a positive role model and a team player. Our advice – be fully transparent with coaches as to why you have multiple accounts. Include your personal Instagram handle in your recruiting Instagram and vice versa to let coaches know that your accounts are linked. You don’t want coaches to think you have anything to hide.

Summary: How to get recruited on Instagram 

How do you get recruited on Instagram? With more and more college coaches using Instagram to communicate, evaluate and build stronger connections with recruits, its proving to be an effective recruiting tool. Athletes can use Instagram’s video features in a variety of ways to showcase their athletic skills and promote their personal brand to college coaches. 

Do you have a free NCSA profile? 

College coaches use the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Network to discover, evaluate and eventually sign athletes. 90% of college athletic programs have had an NCSA athlete on their roster. 

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