The biggest mistake student athletes make on social media

December 17, 2013 Kevin DeShazo Social Media Education Tags: , , 0 Comments

There’s no shortage of examples of student-athletes making mistakes online. Of course it isn’t just student-athletes who make these mistakes, but they tend to be in the headlines more often. Profanity, arguing with fans, inappropriate pictures, tweeting about doing drugs and underage drinking, offensive song lyrics – it never ends. Posts that their friends find funny, their friends relate to, their friends engage with and respond to.

The problem? Their audience online is not just their friends.

The biggest mistake student-athletes make on social media is not realizing the potential size of their audience.

I had a tweet recently that potentially reached over 41,000 people. For perspective, I have 3,000 followers.

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When a North Alabama football player fired off a racist tweet about President Obama last year, he had just over 200 followers. He ended up making national headlines and was ultimately removed from the team. That’s not the 618,00 followers that Johnny Manziel has, yet he still found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

How would that change your behavior if you truly realized who could see your posts? If you thought a future employer was looking at your account, you would want to post things that impressed them, that increased your potential to get hired. You would want to post valuable content, things that painted you in your best (and most professional) light.

Sure, your friends might find humor in that drunken picture from Thursday night. But a future employer? A parent? A donor? A coach? Laughter will not be their response.

When we fall into the trap of thinking that only our friends or followers see our posts, we start making poor decisions. Social Media is an extremely public place. Individuals (including the media) don’t even need to have accounts on most platforms to see what you are posting.

Make sure your student-athletes realize who their online audience is, and encourage them to tailor their content accordingly.

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 40 schools utilizing our services for their athletic department, contact us today.

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