Social Media & the Branding of Amateur Athletes

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Social Media and the Branding of Amateur Athletes

Things have changed quite a bit in college basketball recruiting in the last decade and even more so in the last few years.

More than ever for those looking to make a career at the professional level, it's about not only dedication and hard work, it's also about branding. Seems odd to speak of branding when speaking of an amateur athlete, but it's become the norm.

As recruiting became a more and more visible part of college athletics, recruits have needed to adjust. Whereas before, all a perspective recruit needed to do was simply stay out of trouble and work at their game, in the age of social media, it's almost as imperative to show who they are as a person.

It's rare to find a high school athlete nowadays without either a Twitter handle or an Instagram account and believe me, coaches are paying attention.

With more and more coaches joining the ranks of social media, athletes now more than ever need to protect their brand just as much as build it. With so much riding on their decision-making, kids have to think before hitting "enter.”

The world has changed and with thousands paying attention to each and every word and action, media training begins early for future collegiate and pro athletes. A scholarship can be lost in the blink of an eye and what gets tweeted, posted, and imaged is being highly scrutinized by potential coaches who are looking for something aside from just athletic ability.

Coaches want to know that a recruit not only can play the game but can adjust to college life and represent their university well.

It’s not uncommon for high school athletes who are potential Division 1 athletes to have followers that number in the thousands and, while many of the followers of elite athletes are fans, there are plenty of media members following as well.

The level of access to younger athletes and the exposure it provides is unprecedented, but it can work both ways.

If handled correctly, cultivating a following via social media can pay dividends for an athlete long after they leave the college ranks it can also be a determining factor in whether a coach believes you are a good fit for his team but if mishandled can cost an athlete a lot more than the loss of a few followers.