As a (aspiring) high performance athlete you will no doubt have a scout or two in the stands for a game or a practice. What happens next however is often a little confusing for the ‘new-to-this’ family.
A scout or potential coach will open a file on you, keep notes, load your information and scouting report onto a spread sheet or some other shared software. Then it is entirely plausible that the next step is to have a look at your social media profile/presence.
Whether you agree with this or not, you are being judged. Get over this and move on. If you want to be a competitive athlete, you need to get used to this asap.
Anything (and everything) you do can be scrutinized, recorded and discussed. Both in the real world and the digital one. Have an argument with your mom or dad outside in the parking lot after a game…someone is noticing, have a beer bottle in your hand and giving the finger in a Friday night party image on Instagram…. Someone is screenshotting that.
Welcome to ‘public’ life! No matter what age group you fall in, what team or league you are trying out for, rest assured you are being snooped online somewhere.
Back in an earlier article (read here) I wrote that the “easiest was to keep a positive online profile is to close & delete all existing…..accounts.”
This really is not at all practical and I strongly suggest you keep them and instead use them to your advantage. All this needs is some attention to what you have posted and what you will be posting from now on.
I want to discuss how to clean up & purge your accounts as well as build your social media presence in a way that can be used to promote your athletic and character traits to your best advantage.
1. Define what you are trying to promote or ‘say’ using social media and who it is you would want to look at your profile. The message is what is important; if you are trying to get picked up by a particular team or league, then your regular posts need to showcase a reason why you are the best choice.
Think about this; a real estate salesman showcases his listings and mortgage information on his Twitter, Instagram, Facebook accounts. He does not show fight videos or link to curse laden posts; he keeps it professional to promote himself as a top sales professional. Why aren’t you following the same protocol?
2. Take a full inventory of your online presence. Grab a pen and paper or open excel and make a full list of accounts, log ins & passwords. Have a look and see if they all reflect you the same way. Are the profile images and background images in the headers all the same? Do you have the same tag line or information posted across all accounts?
This is the time for you to organize and streamline the message you want and to set the tone of your online presence. Unify the look and feel to everything; when a scout or coach looks for you online there should be no mistakes in identifying you. If your accounts all have different handles, then it is time to create new accounts under a common name.
Using your own name is preferred here, but understandably it is not always possible. If your domain name (your name with .ca or .com) is available I suggest buying it. This will not cost more than $20.
3. Purge (delete) anything like:
a. Inappropriate photos, videos, or posts (would you show Grandma or your 7yr. old niece the post?)
b. Any posts the show drinking or using drugs
c. Any comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.
d. Any links to posts that depict the above
e. Any posts that negatively affect a company product (more on this later)
f. Comments on other users’ content or blogs that could portray you in a negative fashion
4. Picture the opinion of a coach or scout scrolling through your posts and stories. Imagine they are responsible to bring forward names of athletes they want to consider; how would your online profile rank? Would a NCAA or USports school Registrar or Dean be offended with what he or she read on your Facebook account?
When in doubt, delete.
Your online presence should contain material the reflects your skill set, your professional attitudes and commitments, your character and academic aptitudes. Posts generally should be planned, grammatically correct and displaying you to be a well-rounded and positive addition to the roster!
The goal here is to get recruited; talent alone does not qualify you automatically for a spot or a scholarship. Understand this.
5. Purge your followers also. This may seem unnecessary because someone’s opinion is their own. This is not the case. You will be judged by the company you keep.
I understand that this is not what we are taught growing up, but it is time for a reality check. If you like to follow certain accounts that are crass or wildly inappropriate for our politically and socially correct times; you need to distance yourself from these. End of discussion.
6. If you need to really vent. Write it down in a journal, not online! You can have a private blog under a pseudonym however this could backfire in the future. Grab a book and put every negative feeling there… if you burn it, it’s gone…. Post online and somewhere there is a record of it. Beware.
7. Blog or vlog. Having an online presence is essential for you. Social media allows quick snapshots into your life; however, full blown written or video pieces allow you to really show off your talents, desires, goals and achievements. There is no cost to doing this and I highly recommend it. Once posted, share these articles or vlogs across your social media accounts. This gives the potential recruiter a chance to really learn about you.
Getting noticed is the goal for any competitive athlete. Younger generations of athletes do pretty much everything online. Older parents need to learn that gone are the days of scouts coming out to games and recruiting solely on in-game performance. Its changed, for schools; academics & character trump talent. Being ‘seen’ encompasses so much more now. Ones’ social media profile is so heavily weighed, it’s both good and bad for the system. It allows scouts & athletes to be instantly accessible globally, but negative information lingers forever online. The sooner parents and athletes adjust to this the better off they will be.