One of the best college football newspapers, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, talked with several regional coaches to assess the impact of social media on recruiting in the current years. Their findings should not shock most you, especially if you have been following the recruiting arena.
Social media, as the coaches surveyed explain, is a major part of the recruiting process in this day and age.
Facebook and Twitter have lived past the "fad" status that many skeptics have labeled them. They are a part of the lives of Americans. That includes teenagers, even the teens being recruited by colleges to play football. It's a part of their lives. It is a way to stay in constant contact with kids. It is a way to really reach them on their level.
Sure, mail is great. It makes a statement. When the letter from Ohio State or Florida State comes in the mail it is concrete, something to hold. That is a big part of recruiting, putting your stamp on the prospect and making a grand gesture.
However, that is only part of the recruiting battle. While grand gestures and fancy stationary open eyeballs, it is constant contact that shows your commitment to the recruit and earns his commitment to your program.
In the world of smart phones, social media and constant information exchanges, making use of a frequent contacts through multiple platforms is how the game has to be played. Seventeen-year-old boys are not writing a letter to anyone, much less returning a hand written note from a coach they met a week ago. But, 17-year-old boys will return that Facebook message or Skype with that same coach.
With social media, you get the give and take. The ability to establish a rapport. It really has opened things up in recruiting and helped coaches get to know players.
Those players get to see what a program is all about and that's what recruiting is supposed to be; building relationships. Coaches can see what their prospects are up to publicly, and prospects can see what their schools of interest are up to on a daily basis.
If your coaching staff is not making use of the applications then they are allowing themselves to fall behind. As Larry Fedora puts it:
"If you’re not using it, then you’re falling behind every day. Because it’s a way to stay in contact with kids. Both of those, Facebook and Twitter, go to their phones so you’re able to communicate with them legally. If you’re not doing that in recruiting, you’re way behind the curb.”
Coaches have to get on it. It's another way to promote the program and to sell the brand to the most important consumers there are; young football players who can help the program's success.