As a college athlete, I have seen other athletes misuse social media and post things that can ruin their eligibility. This year social media has been stressed more than previous years, which does not surprise me due to what I see on different sites every day!
I have compiled a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts, from personal and observational situations, that college athletes should take into consideration. I am writing this from a PR perspective, hoping to make athletes aware of the image they can create and the relationships they build with fans and the community through social media.
1. DON’T use profanity, racial slurs, or any other foul language.
This is one of the most common mistakes I see by college athletes and students in general. When you are an athlete, you represent your institution, your team, and your own brand. Profanity will negatively influence the way people view you and can potentially hurt your relationship with the community and fans that follow you. Sports will not turn into a professional career for most college athletes. With that being said, profanity use on your social media accounts can bite you in the butt when it comes time to looking for a job in the professional world.
2. DON’T post pictures of alcohol, drugs, or inappropriate behaviors.
With popular picture/video-based sites like Vine and Instagram, it is common to see inappropriate pictures surface. Do not post “selfies” holding a bottle of liquor or team pictures of everyone falling over each other with beers spread out in the room. This will only lead to a whole line of problems. There are people out there just waiting for you, as an athlete, to mess up. If you are tagged in a post, ask to be removed or remove yourself. Better yet, know the pictures you are taking and who is taking them!
3. DON’T talk negatively about your teammates or coaching staff.
Venting on social media is not recommended. You never know who is watching and who will tell on you! Talking bad about your teammates will cause drama, ruin team chemistry, and make YOU look bad. Posting negatively about the coaching staff can get you kicked off the team, have them loose respect for you, and potentially lose any help they can give you when you need something, like a letter of recommendation.
4. DON’T bash your opponents on social media.
Social media is not the place to bash your opponent and try and get into their head before a game. If severe enough, you can get into serious trouble and negatively affect your team. Consider posting motivational words and expressing your excitement, or eagerness, to face your opponent in an appropriate manner.
5. DON’T forget that you are a college STUDENT as well…
Be aware of spelling errors and grammar! You are a college student first and an athlete second. Make sure your posts are legible, especially within the world of short abbreviations and online language.
6. DO take advantage of the privacy settings.
The only way to completely protect yourself from crazy fans, users stealing your pictures, or even having inappropriate posts show up on your wall is to have a private account. FB has developed complex privacy settings that allow for users to pick what information they want seen by each person. It is so easy for one post or mistake to reach a global audience in minutes.
7. DO build a respectful brand.
Social media is a great place for college athletes to build a positive brand image. There is the opportunity to connect with the school community and the community that the school is a part of. Many athletes do not realize the influence they have on their fans, especially young followers. Use this platform to connect with athletes or organizations that have influenced you!
8. DO stay up to date with your accounts.
As a college athlete, it will be important to answer all questions that are posted on your wall and to interact with people that support you. Frequently updating content and your page will keep fans coming back and interested in what you have accomplished on and off the field, court, etc. Engage your followers!
9. DO clean up your existing profiles.
It is never too late to change your ways on social media. Go through each picture, post, tweet, upload and make sure they reflect you in a positive manner. As an athlete, you have to understand the responsibility you take on when you sign to be a part of a college athletic team or sport.
10. DO keep your future in mind.
Anything you post on the internet will remain on the internet forever. As college athletes, you are in the public spotlight. Make sure that you are constantly monitoring your accounts and being smart about your content!
Social media has been skyrocketing over the past couple of years. It is a great platform to connect with others and build your brand, but it can also destroy you in a matter of minutes. Hopefully these tips will help young athletes clean up their accounts and care more about what they are posting!