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.
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.”
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.
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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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…
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.