USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Social media has reshaped the college recruiting landscape. Just as the majority of recruiting communications moved to email in the early 2000’s, coach-to-recruit communication has now moved to social media. Each year Field House Media conducts a survey of NCAA student athletes, designed to help administrators better understand how and why student athletes use social media. This year’s survey results are out and there are some interesting lessons for current recruits and their parents.
Student athletes aren’t using Facebook privacy settings as much as they used to
Facebook is the largest social media network on earth, with over 1.8 billion people. It comes as no surprise that over 98 percent of student athletes surveyed said they have a Facebook account. What was surprising, is that only 81 percent of those student athletes are using Facebook’s privacy settings. This number is down from the 2013 Field House survey, where 96 percent of student athletes were using privacy settings.
Insider Tip: The default settings for Facebook allow other users to post on your wall. You want to change the settings so you have to approve any post on your wall. Student athletes don’t need to shut down their account, but they need to be aware of how they are represented.
Twitter is the dominate communication platform for coaches
Over 95 percent of student athletes surveyed say they have a Twitter and account. Up from only 72 percent of student athletes in 2013. This near ubiquitous use of Twitter by student athletes means that college coaches are using the platform for communicating with and evaluating recruits. Whether a recruit is aware or not, recruiting will be happening on Twitter, here is what they should do:
- Open your DMs – Once the contact period has started, college coaches will use direct messages (DMs) on Twitter to reach out to recruits. If your DMs are closed and a coach isn’t following you, they can’t message you.
- Don’t set your profile to private – During the recruiting process, coaches look to Twitter to get a sense of who a recruit is. If the profile is set to private, it makes the process of getting to know them more difficult.
Instagram and Snapchat are the most used platforms
Instagram and Snapchat are two of the newest social media platforms and also the most popular with student athletes. Forty-two percent of student athletes said they use Snapchat the most, while 29 percent said they use Instagram the most. This is compared to only 17 percent of athletes saying Twitter is most popular and 10 percent for Facebook. There are a couple of key things to understand about these platforms.
- Most athletes think Snapchat is private – While Snapchat promotes that it’s messages are temporary, they aren’t private and athletes engaging in bad behavior, need to be aware that their snaps could be seen by others.
- 61 percent of student athletes have Instagram set to private – Similar to the advice for Twitter, athletes should consider setting their Instagram profiles to public during the recruiting process when coaches are looking to evaluate them. Think of a public profile as an opportunity to show positive aspects of your character instead of worrying about hiding something.