Social Media and College Football Recruiting

Recruiting methods for big-time college football programs has evolved dramatically over the last twenty years. Programs are now using every form of social media to brand their program, raise awareness, and recruit talent. Coaches and athletic directors now have the ability to share their style of play with recruits, and highlight team culture on a huge, public scale. You would think that college coaches would be the last people to sit around a meeting room, or what they call a “war bunker,” to talk about emojis and hastags that could help their program recruit better talent. This social media revolution has forever changed the way college football coaches recruit. Below is a direct quote from head coach, Les Miles, and portrays his view of social media potential in recruiting.

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The goal of college football programs that are using social media is to generate excitement and create momentum in the recruiting sector. Coaches are using social media platforms to break down geographical barriers, and reveal behind-the-scenes views into the operations and team culture. “Nothing has impacted recruiting more in the last 20 years than social media,” Nebraska director of player personnel Ryan Gunderson said. “It has revolutionized recruiting. With today’s technology, cell phones are merely a vehicle for social media use.”

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College football coaches are using social media to recruit and interact with high school athletes because many talented players spend a lot of their time online. Social media has given coaches the opportunity to open dialogue with hundreds of recruiting targets in a way that has never been seen before. Coaches post a wide variety of videos and pictures to strike interest from young athletes. If done properly, college coaches can use social media as a means to connect with athletes on a very personal level.

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Over the past few decades, college programs have competed in stadium construction, weight room size, and other amenities to attract recruits. The new frontier of recruiting comes in the form of creative content on social media. Snapchat videos and Instagram posts have captured the shrinking attention span of high school athletes like no other recruiting tactic. College football coaches who are savvy social media users have created their own trends that ring throughout the athletic community. For coaches, social media is now a game within itself. It is the game that’s not played on Saturday, but is equally as important to game day.

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#SaltBae                                                                #SaltBaeC    #DecideToFly2017

Social media has forever changed the way college football coaches approach recruiting. The process now starts much earlier with high school prospects, and gathering information can be done much quicker. If done the right way, social media can allow coaches to create instant relationships with recruits. They can elevate their program’s social profile, and publically display their school values.

The visibility that social media has created is a two-way street, and can sometimes reveal information about recruits that can hurt their future. For young athletes, social media can be a tool to gain exposure, but it can also get them in some trouble. As a high school athlete, it is difficult to fully understand the consequences of what may be spread through social media. Today, everything young athletes do can be seen all over the Internet. Young athletes who post photos of themselves partying at a club or a casino might seem like no big deal to some, but college coaches take mental notes of such postings. Coaches want players who aren’t troublemakers, and a spontaneous tweet can ruin the future of high school athletes. Even college players should be careful of what they post…

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Social media will continue to revolutionize recruiting, but it will become more complicated as social media platforms evolve. Coaches must use it as a tool to portray the positive aspects of their institutions, and high school athletes must use it as an engine for positive news.

 

10 comments

  1. Interesting article, I always see random articles on ESPN about how one coach or another did something that was original on social media to get a recruits attention. It’s certainly a creative way to capture a recruits attention in an attempt to differentiate their product when all the facilities and glory look the same. I’m sure the NCAA might crack down similar to the strict regulations related to phone calls/texts with players. Great take!

  2. Great article. It definitely shows how social media is creeping into everything. It will be a huge added cost on both ends. Coaches and teams will have to hire people for social media coverage, and the NCAA will have to hire people to monitor all of the conversations through different platforms. I wonder, too, if this will start to be more heavily regulated. Seems like it could get out of hand.

  3. Great post. It seems to me that coaches can gain so much more out of the use of social media in trying to attract new talent. However, I am still skeptic about communicating with coaches through social media rather than other platforms, and athletes who choose to do so must be very cautious with what they post. Also, might recommend to my Track & Field coach to start using SM too for recruiting, he has been coaching at BC for almost 30 years, I think there is a lot more to come on their behalf.

  4. drewsimenson · ·

    Good post! A lot of folks in my network are in admissions and I can say this phenomenon definitely extends beyond sports recruitment, to recruitment for colleges broadly. The examples from admissions resemble these but it is interesting to reflect on what we learned about the job placement market in class and from Danna’s presentation, and note that that sector focuses more on LinkedIn. Makes sense but interesting to note that different platforms seems to be conducive to meeting the goals of different sectors.

  5. Neat post! I wish you had gone a little more in-depth about Coach Addazio and his SM recruiting techniques. I have many friends from home who know of his “Guys being dudes” catchphrase but don’t know that it originated as part a BC Football SM recruiting campaign. Plus, Salt Bae last week was hilarious and unexpected. Did any of BC’s SM recruiting practices influence you when you decided to come to BC?

  6. NIce post. I did a blog post with one of your predecessors on just this topic after he chose it for his in-class presentation several years back. http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-seven-lessons-of-bc-footballs-social-media-campaign/

  7. isabel_calo1 · ·

    Really interesting post! I am very interested to see how much more this grows because potential players would love to be able to get an idea of what the team is like beyond just visiting once or twice. Maybe snapchat of practice or lifting sessions will be posted and nee recruits can even start prepping for the team dynamic before pre-season. It will definitely change how the NCAA monitors coach and player interaction..that can become tricky really fast with so many forms of social media and no way to track it all.

  8. lenskubal · ·

    Josh, thanks for your comment. To answer some of your questions… it is interesting to watch certain programs and coaches launch social media campaigns. The “be a dude” slogan emerged in my second year playing for BC and there are a few things most outsiders to the program aren’t aware of. Our defensive coordinator, Don Brown actually came up with the phrase and would say things like “you’re a dude,” or “that was a dude play” to players had played hard on the field. Coach Addazio quickly caught on and ran with it. You know the rest..

    As far as social media recruiting tactics when I was decided where to go, I really wasnt in tune with BC’s online presence. What hooked me was watching them play on TV and my recruiting visits to campus where I met the team and saw the school. @joshlartman

  9. lenskubal · ·

    @geraldckane

    Thanks for the comment. I read your blog post and found it very interesting. It is cool to reflect back on the social media campaign that coach drove in his first few years at BC. As a player, I wasn’t really aware of his efforts in SM, so it was awesome to read your opinions on how he managed and built the program in a way the players weren’t too familiar with. As a player, I was focused on so many other things, so it was enjoyable to read how those outside the program were affected by his actions.

  10. mikeward7 · ·

    Really interesting blog! I think one of the biggest reasons it has taken off so much is that it makes the players feel a more normal connection with these programs because they can connect with coaches and programs on social media, much like they do with their friends and family. It also completely changed the game of recruiting from where it used to be letters and visits. Now they can see what the football program they want to play for is doing on a very regular basis.

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