When you get up in the morning, what is the first thing you do? If you answered, “Check my social media,” you are not alone. A report published by Common Sense Media states that most teens from 13-18 years old spend nearly 7 ½ hours a day on screens. This does not include screens for schoolwork or homework.
That’s a lot of screen time.
Furthermore, according to an article published by Northwestern, The Family Institute, girls are more likely than boys to use social media for connecting with others. This “connecting for a response” has had positive and negative consequences. Many girls post images in hopes of immediate feedback. When the responses don’t come back in good numbers, or with favorable comments, it leads to frustration and depression over time.
Sometimes young girls feel like they are not accepted when not getting lots of likes, followers, shares, or positive comments. This is simply not true, but it’s easy to fall into the false need of getting likes, especially when you compare yourself to other girls.
On the other hand, if the comments and likes are good and numerous, it becomes enticing to try it again, almost like an addiction, where the user wants to beat the last record or get more followers the next time, etc.
These events can lead to anxiety, depression, or emotional trauma. In short, you have to be careful about how you use social media, which includes what you take in and what you put out as posts.
With that said, your social media channels play a huge role during the recruiting process. The way you share, follow, like, and post pictures and words matters. You have a platform that you can use to sell yourself and your brand.
Remember that college coaches use social media, too. College coaches begin following you when they are interested in you as a potential student-athlete. When this happens, they sift through your different social media channels looking for things that they deem inappropriate or questionable behavior for their teams and programs. If they like what they see, you move up the list. If they don’t like what they find, they’ll likely lose interest and stop recruiting you.
On the other hand, because college coaches use social media to keep up with the sports world, they may fall upon one of your posts accidentally which could lead to some initial interest from them. Put another way, your brand could catch the eye of a college coach and lead to more interest, which could lead to your next offer.
You can also use your social media to communicate with college coaches and probably will once they are recruiting you.
All of these situations are good news for high school student-athletes if they use these channels to their benefit.
There are many ways your social media channels can give you an edge. Here are several:
Make your channel an advantage by keeping your posts clean, positive and helpful. For example, if you have the opportunity to lift up a teammate or a coach in a post, take advantage of that. Talk about how you love to work with your team and coaches.
Be grateful for what you have in your team, family, and community. For example, show appreciation for your neighbors, teammates, coaches, community, school, and family. Be genuine with your thanks and praise. Post about good things happening in your community. Post about community service and show appreciation for the opportunities you receive.
Many folks on social media gravitate to the negative and try to spread those posts. Spreading hate, violence and noninclusive language has become commonplace on social media. Avoid engaging with those folks, especially when it comes to putting people down. And especially when it comes to girls and women in sports. Be a voice for good.
Only show yourself and others in a positive light. Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished so far. Portray yourself, your body image, your sport, and your life, including your family, community, and school, positively and with a great attitude.
Your brand is important. Work on it and own it. Who do you want to be on social media? How do you want to engage with people? What voice do you use? Be yourself, and be genuine. You have talent and a mindset that is special only to you. Be proud of the work you have put in and allow your social media channels to help you reach your dreams.
Whatever sport you decide to play in college, follow that sport at all the different levels that exist, including youth, club, high school, college, and professional. Follow and promote the good at all of these levels. Show you care. Athletes young and old will potentially follow you and may share your posts. You could strengthen the community and the connections in your sport for the better. New connections may even come from this approach.
In summary, your social media channels are a tool that can really enhance your recruiting process. As you approach college, think of these channels as your own personal marketing department and your voice to be, and do, good.
It won’t end when you get to college. Your social media channels could also help you connect with people on campus who can feed whatever you are passionate about and help you land a job during the school year, the summer, or after graduation.
Use social media not only to help your recruiting process and to brand yourself but also to lift others up in the process. You never know who is watching, and your next opportunity may be just around the corner.
A group of teammates talk about how being an athlete empowered them for life beyond sports.