For student athletes, social media is the new first impression
First impressions. We’ve all been told how important they are in life. Whether you’re gearing up for a job interview, giving a speech or headed out on a blind date, first impressions matter. As with many things, social media has changed the format of first impressions. In the other scenarios, you are (hopefully) prepared for your encounter. You’ve thought through your words, your appearance, every last detail. You know your audience and, as much as you can, you control the situation. With social media, all of this is happening online – many times before offline interaction takes place.
Social Media is the new first impression. Want to know what somebody is like? Head to their Twitter, Instagram or Facebook accounts. How do they feel about certain issues? How do they communicate in public? What are their hobbies and passions? All of that can be found in a matter of minutes.
This is especially true for student-athletes. It’s not just friends who follow them online. It is reporters, fans, opponents and, more importantly, potential employers. Let’s look at the following scenario.
Following a close win by the men’s basketball team, the main Twitter account for an athletic department sends out a tweet that not only acknowledges the win, but points out the stellar performance of the starting point guard – and includes the Twitter handle (username) of that student-athlete. If you follow college athletics, you know that this is somewhat of a common occurrence (though there is much debate around whether this is a good or bad practice).
A business owner, and graduate of the university, is following the athletic department Twitter account and sees this tweet. Whenever possible, this individual likes to hire graduates from his alma mater – especially student-athletes. He sees the tweet and thinks to himself, “This kid is pretty good. They’re promoting his Twitter account, so let’s see what kind of guy he is.” He clicks on the student-athlete’s Twitter handle, bringing up his account.
What will he find? Will his assumptions be correct, and this might in fact be someone he would want to hire some day? Or will he be shocked and disappointed in what he finds?
How you use your Twitter account can bring about opportunities you didn’t know were available, or it can cost you a job you never knew you were a candidate for.
This is an actual scenario I’ve encountered numerous times across a variety of industries – with both positive and negative outcomes.
We’re creating first impressions without realizing it. For student-athletes, this goes back to reminding them that social media is not just a place where they are communicating back and forth with friends. It’s much bigger (and much more public) than that. More eyes are on their accounts than they realize. Eyes that can have a direct impact on their future.
Encourage your student-athletes to have a plan with how they use social media. To treat it as a tool rather than a toy. To be intentional with managing their online reputation.
After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Fieldhouse Media is a firm dedicated to helping student-athletes and coaches use social media in a positive, appropriate way through education and monitoring. To find out more about us or to join the over 70 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.