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College Coaches are going to look at your Social Media as a way to get to know who you are. Recruits have been dropped off lists because of their social media. State awards have been rescinded because of a player’s comments on social media. High School programs have received negative national news coverage because of player’s posts, tweets or pics.

Conversely, some team’s social media accounts have embraced their communities and forged bonds with fans. And, relatively unknown athletes have come to college program’s attention because of social media. To sum it up, social media can help or harm student-athletes, so let’s look at the basics for student-athletes.

  1. There’s no such thing as private social media. While some social media platforms allow you to have a “private” account, this is a digital medium and anything can be saved using various Apps or via screen shot.  That screen shot then lives in databases forever. We’ve seen plenty of instances of an ex-best friend releasing a stream of compromising social media pics and posts, or an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend sending saved, sensitive posts, tweets and pics to other people. Even Snaps can be saved. You should always be aware that anything you put up on any digital media can be shared with the world.

  2. Delete doesn’t mean it’s deleted everywhere. Most athletes who get in trouble via social media deleted the tweet or post within 10 minutes of putting it up; it had already been captured by other people.  A classic example is Johnny Manziel. Last October he thought he had DMed his cell phone number to someone. He had accidentally tweeted it out and although Manziel deleted the tweet within minutes, it had already been retweeted over 330 times and copied into files. The phone had to be shut down. Important Note: With the new Twitter Retweet formula, “If other users have Retweeted your Tweet with a comment of their own, their Tweets will not be removed.” (Twitter)

  3. Your sense of humor is not necessarily in tune with what the rest of the world thinks is funny. There are thousands of instances of athletes sending out something that they thought was funny which resulted in hundreds of negative responses and had serious repercussions.  One of the most famous examples is Voula Papachristou, a Greek Triple Jumper, who was a member of her country’s Olympic team. She tweeted out what she thought was a joke: “So many Africans in Greece at least West Nile mosquitoes will eat homemade food.” The Greek people were outraged and made that known; she was banned from the Olympics by the Greek Olympic Committee even though she also apologized and made it clear she thought she was being humorous.  Think carefully before you put out something that you think is “funny.”

  4. Retweets/shares can get you in trouble. When you retweet something or share it out you are endorsing the content.  We see over 50,000 posts, tweets, pics from student athletes each month and male high school student athletes often muddy their feeds via retweeting/sharing misogynistic or sexually explicit content.

  5. Threats on Social Media are taken seriously. When you say something to a person there are other cues that the brain takes into account as it decides what you actually mean. Words that might be a threat are mitigated by body language, tone, facial expression and the context of the scene.  None of those factors exist in social media so when you write “I’ll just have to kill you for that.” that’s what people believe you mean.  Think of how a total stranger would react to your words before you put something out that will have the police knocking at your door.  Female student athletes’ feeds are the ones in which we most often find threats.

  6. Social Media can be a huge time saver for team and coaches. Twitter has become the 21st century equivalent of the phone –tree, getting changes in practice times, reminders and general information out to everyone in real time.  The only caveat is that athletes have to list the coach’s accounts and then go into the list to check for updates; Twitter uses a formula for tweets so not all tweets appear in all followers’ timelines.

  7. Facebook is a fantastic platform to use to build your athletic resume. College coaches, and your high school team’s fans can easily follow the historic feed. Essentially a Facebook page can be your free mobile website.  An athlete’s Facebook page should reflect life off the field as well as on the field.(But steer away from sharing pictures of last weekend’s party.)

  8. Everyone has video capability and they will use it.  The accepted definition of privacy has changed in the social media era.  Weekly there are articles about people who have been fired from their jobs or suspended from their educational institutions/teams because of their actions in a video that someone else posted on social media.

  9. Teams have to have a conversation and come to agreement on what is acceptable to put up on social media. In general we don’t believe in social media policies which emanate from the ADs office; they are extremely difficult to enforce. But, we do believe in teams reaching a collective understanding on what is, and is not, appropriate to put out on social media.

  10. Social Media can promote your team to your community. With a plan and a bit of work social media lets the community who is funding you “in” on the journey.  That’s a huge help for programs, for taxpayers, and for sports in general.  Parents are often happy to add their pictures to the team’s feeds.

Social Media 4 the High School #Athlete is happy to answer questions @HSSocialMedia

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