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Social media is a powerful tool, and let’s face it, our kids are probably a lot more social media savvy than we are. That said, we can still offer them some common sense advice, not only to help protect them from some of the pitfalls, but also to help them use social media to market themselves as potential volleyball recruits. In this article I’ll cover 23 of my top social media strategies college bound student-athletes can add to their overall recruiting strategy so they can build their personal brand, get connected to the right coaches, and get recruited by their best fit schools.
The strategies are super simple, yet very effective! Plus, I guarantee you that most of the other recruits out there are NOT thinking about social media in terms of marketing themselves. Just by being here, you are one step ahead of the competition!
Oh, and if you haven’t been to the blog before, WELCOME! I write weekly tips to help college-bound volleyball players and their families navigate the recruiting journey. I hope you like what you find here and you end up staying a while (and maybe we’ll even become VBall BFFs)!
If you’ve missed any of my previous posts, here are some of my favorites!
- NCAA Eligibility: What You Need to Know So You Don’t End Up on the Bench
- Calling College Coaches: What To Do Before Picking Up the Phone
- How to Create a Volleyball Highlight Video that Coaches Want to Watch
- Recruiting Visits: What You Need to Know About the New NCAA Rules
- Am I Being Recruited? How to Gauge Where You Stand as a Volleyball Recruit
- How to Handle Being Caught in the Student-Athlete Comparison Trap
Ok, so let’s dive right in to this weeks’ topic – and don’t forget I have a free PDF download of social media tips at the bottom of this post, so you can share it with your soon-to-be college volleyballer!
High School Athletes and Social Media
Parents, does your high school athlete realize they’re being watched?
It may sound creepy, but it’s true.
College coaches do their homework, and part of that homework, especially if they are just getting to know your son/daughter, is to look into a prospect’s world through the lens of their social media. It’s definitely in your son or daughter’s best interest to make sure what a coach finds will support a decision to begin a long, positive relationship with them.
One Click Away
Most high school students today – and athletes are no exception – have multiple social media channels. Whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or whatever the latest hot new platform is, it’s a great way to communicate and keep up with friends, news, and entertainment.
And there is nothing inherently wrong with any of them.
That said, athletes need to remember that all it takes is one wrong move and a coach may just cross them off their list.
There are numerous examples of recruits being passed over because of an errant tweet, retweet, post, or share. Even the best of volleyball players would be wise to remember that a social media mishap could cost them opportunities.
You might have seen a version of the tweet below, “Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship!” Or, as JJ Watt says, “Your reputation takes years and years to build and it takes one press of a button to ruin it.” Both of these messages warn of the same outcome: social media can be used for good, but it can turn on us in a flash if we aren’t careful!
Social Media Strategies for Volleyball Coaches
Before we get into some best practices for social media for student-athletes, let’s talk about what goes on from the coach’s side of things.
Of course, most volleyball coaches are using social media themselves, too. They publicize their matches and promote their schools, of course. But they also social media to check out and connect with potential recruits.
Ways that a volleyball coach might be using social media in recruiting include everything from following or friending student-athletes they might be interested in, to sending them direct messages (assuming no one is breaking any NCAA recruiting rules).
Bigger schools have staff assigned to connecting and following student-athletes’ social media accounts – and yes, they may even check on their friends, and the other accounts that the athletes are following, too!
What Are They Looking For?
Social media can’t tell a coach everything about a player, so unfortunately, a lot is left up to assumptions. This can be a double edged sword because first impressions aren’t always accurate – but they sure do count! Still, a players’ social media can tell a coach a lot about them as a potential recruit. Within a thirty-second scroll, some coaches have seen all they need to know!
So what are they looking for? All coaches would obviously love someone who is a stellar athlete on their team, but they also look for players who can contribute positively to the culture they are continuously trying to build within their program.
Anything that would raise a red flag when it comes to an athlete’s character is an automatic turnoff. After all, if it looks like a potential recruit may be trouble, with all the other recruits out there to choose from, they can easily just move on and add someone else to their list!
Keeping it Clean
It goes without saying, but this means “just saying no” to posting ANYTHING showing underage activities, profanity, sexual content, or slurs (not only could these types of posts affect your child’s athletic and academic career, but their actual career one day, too).
It would also be good to note that every waking moment need not be posted on social media for the world to see. Yes, repeatedly posting at 2:30am on a school night could raise some eyebrows.
A dream candidate for a volleyball coach would be a player who…
- has the right athletic skills
- can get along with teammates
- has fun/friends, but who also knows to take school seriously
- shows some degree of maturity/responsibility
- is respectful to parents, teachers, coaches, trainers, etc.
- follow rules (and the law)
If you were a coach scrolling your son/daughter’s feed, would you see your ideal candidate? Read on to find out how to leverage social media as a recruiting tool to get pretty darn close!
Social Media Strategies for Volleyball Recruit “Branding”
The same way companies use social media to brand themselves, student-athletes can utilize their various platforms to their advantage. Positive and appropriate messaging will go a long way to building a solid online reputation. So will being authentic (btw, no one likes a phony, so student-athletes should never over embellish the facts to make themselves seem better than they are).
At this point it should be said that as important as social media is for student-athletes, remember it’s just one piece of the recruiting puzzle. Athletes should remember to also continue to:
- connect with coaches through email
- send their website links and video footage
- send invites to tournaments
- call to follow up
- schedule visits, if applicable
Add all of that together, and combine it with working hard in the gym and in the classroom, and your student-athlete just upped their odds of landing a spot on a team!
Psst! Give the list below to your kid… 🙂
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Top Social Media Strategies – A Checklist for Student-Athletes:
Calling all athletes! Here it is! Your go-to guide with 23 tips for everything you need to know about how to leverage your social media as a tool to market yourself as a prospective volleyball recruit! Read it, then go take action where you need to!
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #1: Set your account to public
If your account is not set to public, how will any of the coaches find you? Depending on the platform, you can adjust your settings to have better control of individual privacy features (see tip #6), but as far as comments/messaging, keep the line of communication open so they can contact you if needed.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #2: Use your real name
Use your real name (or at least most of it) as a handle, so that a search will pull up your page for coaches. Of course, you do not need to include any personal information (actual phone numbers, home address, etc.) that could open you up to identity theft or online predators.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #3: Check your profile pic
Using a sport-specific photo in your profile (i.e. a photo of you blocking/serving/digging, etc.) accomplishes a couple of things. First, it gives coaches a clue that you are THE “Ryan Smith” (in case there are dozens of them out there) – or whatever name they are searching for. Secondly, it connects a visual image with your passion – the sport you are hoping will get you into college.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #4: Be consistent across channels
You’re going for name recognition, so keeping your name (and even your profile image/colors) consistent across your multiple channels just makes it easier for busy coaches to find – and remember – you.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #5: Link in bio
You are going to want to make sure a coach landing on your profile knows it’s you. You can reference your club or high school team, your position, and grad year in your profile/bio, but you can’t possibly fit everything you’ll want to say into such a small piece of internet real estate, so don’t forget to include a link to your website where they can find out more about you and see your highlight videos.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #6: Set up your settings
Even if you’re following tip #1 and making your account public, you can still regulate many items within your settings. For example, in Facebook (I know, you might not even use FB that much, but the coaches do!) you can require your approval for anyone who tags you in a post. That way, things don’t automatically show up on your wall without you knowing it.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #7: Be a follower
Follow all the programs you’re interested in, and even some you aren’t sure about yet. Follow their volleyball pages, their admissions office, and even a few athletes you might know on the team. This helps you get a feel for the culture and what it might be like to be a student-athlete there. It also gives you valuable future conversation starters and information to ask questions about, if you should happen to get invited on a visit.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #8: Walk in the coach’s shoes
Be mindful of the types of accounts you follow. Would there be any red flags for a coach? Imagine you are the coach (or more likely, their grad assistant) and you were asked to check YOU out on social media. Yes, they’ll sometimes go pretty deep to scroll and find out all they can.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #9: Think then post
It’s always a good rule of thumb NOT to post anything in anger or jealousy (or even mild road rage). Delaying picking up your phone or computer until you are calm and composed could be the difference between getting passed over and getting a second look. So think before you post: Would I want my future coach to see this?
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #10: Proofread
Their, there, they’re… please check to be sure you sound decently intelligent. Proofread your posts before going live.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #11: Don’t be an imposter
It looks desperate and dishonest when you boast about yourself online or over exaggerate reality. If you just drove onto campus and took a walk around, don’t try to pull it off like it was an official recruiting visit – people can see right through it. Trying to portray you have a real offer when you don’t is just silly. There’s nothing wrong with posting positive accolades, just be humble (and real) in the way you do it.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #12: Watch the time
If you are a 24/7 social media kid, be aware of the timeliness of your posts. Are you always posting funny pics, liking videos, and retweeting memes when you should be in class? This could cause a coach to begin to wonder about your priorities.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #13: No venting
This tip kind of goes along with tip #8 Think Before Posting. It’s the No Venting rule – especially if it portrays a message of disrespect to any of your teachers, coaches, teammates, or parents. No venting. Sure, you can vent to your real-life human friends, just keep it off of social media. Your name will get scratched off the list.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #14: Be a hall monitor
Just like the hall monitors in school (is that even still a thing?), you need to be informed of what’s going on in your social media accounts at all times. Monitor your posts AND your shares and retweets. This will serve you well as a potential volleyball recruit, but also as a job applicant in your future.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #15: Tidy up!
We all have an embarrassing photo or two (or ten), or maybe just don’t necessarily want a particular post from the past to ever pop back up. Social media savvy student-athletes would be wise to go back through old posts to delete some of the clutter. Depending on how frequently you post, this could take an hour or two, or even your next three-day weekend. Still, it’s probably a good idea to do some tidying up of your online “house”.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #16: Turn on notifications
If a coach reaches out, make sure you don’t miss it. You should always respond in the same day, even if it is a school you are not interested in (coaches switch schools so you never know… plus, it’s just plain polite). It’s important to turn on your notifications (and check them), so there isn’t a lag between his connection and your response. This includes email, too!
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #17: Share your sport updates
If you are being recruited for volleyball, it’s good to post updates about, well – volleyball. You can share updates of your match scores, you can post video snippets, or mentions about you in the local paper. You can post pics of you and your teammates out for dinner after practice, or just hanging out playing some beach volleyball. Just remember don’t let it get annoying – and stay humble (see tip #10).
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #18: Give some shout outs
Show respect and gratitude toward those who support you. Your family, your teammates, your coaches, and other friends all probably deserve shout outs from time to time. Recognizing them shows you are humble and can appreciate that you don’t gain success alone.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #19: Don’t hide behind retweets
Just FYI, retweets or shares that you post from others onto your wall/timeline are just as good as coming straight from you. Especially the offensive ones. So don’t pretend that just because you didn’t originate it, you don’t own it.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #20: Nothing’s really private
Thinking if you delete a post it’s actually gone is a mistake. Yes, even on Snapchat. Take the case in my town as an example. Some high school kids were upset for being fired from a restaurant and went back after hours to retaliate (I won’t mention what they did because it’s disgusting, but let’s just say rodents were involved). Their mistake? Sending video of their hilarious escapade to their friends via Snapchat. Unfortunately for them, it only took a second for someone to take a screen shot, and the next thing you know, the police were hauling them in. After it showed up on the news… well, you get the picture. So yup, not even Snapchat is 100% private.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #21: Do it for grandma
Ever wonder just how close you’re coming to crossing the line with a particular post, retweet, or share? Before throwing it up, ask yourself if you’d be OK with your grandma seeing it. If it’s not so much… then you’ll have your answer.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #22: Own your blunders
If you somehow just came across this article and are like, “OMG, I made a huge mistake last month when I posted that rant about my setter…”, know that you are human. It happens. BUT, if you make a mistake, just own it (and delete it immediately). And later, if a coach down the line (or a potential boss) ever asks about it, just take responsibility, let them know it was a mistake, and that it won’t happen again.
Social Media Strategies for Recruits, Tip #23: Have fun
If it seems like all these tips are too restrictive, you might be asking if you’re even allowed to have any fun on social media at all. After all, you are a high school kid, and life without some fun would be boring, right? Well, of course it would! And of course, it’s totally appropriate to have fun. So go ahead and share the fun, humorous, silly, sarcastic (but appropriate) stuff online. Just keep it rated PG and remember who your potential audience is.
So there you have it! Twenty-three of my best tips for social media management for student-athletes. I hope you’ve learned some practical ways for turning a social media presence into a tool for volleyball recruiting.
If you remember nothing else, remember that your social media persona may be a coach’s first impression of you – and hopefully not his last! Let’s make it count!
As a recap, here is the list again (and here is a link to download it as a pdf if you want to save it for later).
Set your account to public
Use your real name
Check your profile pic
Be consistent across channels
Link in bio
Set up your settings
Be a follower
Walk in the coach’s shoes
Think then post
Don’t be an imposter
Watch the time
Be a hall monitor
Turn on notifications
Share your sport updates
Give some shout outs
Don’t hide behind retweets
Nothing’s really private
Do it for grandma
Own your blunders
BONUS TIP: Social media connections are great and all… but calling college coaches at schools appropriate to your academic and athletic ability greatly increases the likelihood of making a connection with that coach you’re looking for. [Read this post for three tips on how you can prepare to do just that.]
And parents – if you haven’t yet shared this with your son or daughter, print out/pin/save the PDF to have a serious conversation with your student-athlete. By practicing these social media tips, you can definitely help your athlete build an online reputation they can be proud of!
Ready to take it to the next level? Be sure to grab your FREE Done-for-You Email Templates to help you start connecting with coaches from your best fit schools by tonight!
Website Designer, Teacher & Volleyball Mom
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