The Impact Of Social Media On Recruiting Goes Beyond Retweets

May 22nd, 2017 | by Javier Morales
The Impact Of Social Media On Recruiting Goes Beyond Retweets
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Social Media

A school knowing all about today’s pop culture with its use of Twitter, Instagram or Facebook can be a factor in the recruiting process. Knowing today’s hip trends creates an intriguing situation in which the young recruit is more aware of this part of the recruiting game than the veteran coach or athletic director.

Not too long ago terms such as “viral video”, “trending on Twitter”, emojis, bitmojis, and animated GIFs had no place in recruiting. Now, it makes sense to have a strategy that includes the use of what today’s youth are using to better strike a chord with them.

Nebraska is one of the trendsetters in this regard with its recruiting coordinator and creative and emerging media director teaming up to offer the hippest form of social media.

Who would have thought that mild-mannered veteran Nebraska coach Mike Riley would be pictured with Chance the Rapper even a couple of years ago?

Well, that happened on May 11, orchestrated by the Huskers’ Kelly Mosier, the school’s assistant athletic director for creative and emerging media. Riley and his wife were pictured with Chance the Rapper after a concert and naturally, that photo was posted on Twitter by Nebraska.

The tweet, pinned atop Nebraska football’s Twitter page, reads “Our Coach” signifying that Riley is all about what’s going on with Chance the Rapper.

Imagine a 16-year-old recruit seeing that photo? Nebraska is banking on the recruit saying, “I want to play for that guy.”

The best resource to kick such recruiting ideas around for coaches, recruiting coordinators and media personnel? The players, especially the freshmen, is a good start.

“We have a great relationship with our players,” Mosier told Landof10.com. “They’re always in the office and always around, and so we’re always stopping them and asking what they’re listening to and what they have to say, see what they’re dressing like, who they act like, what they’re looking at on their phone, what songs they’re playing at practice, and you can see what’s effective.”

The top programs such as Nebraska, Ohio State, and Clemson, know this trending social media form of recruiting is a burgeoning arms race.

Clemson has added almost $167,000 annually since 2013 to its payroll for creative content in its football program. Ohio State officials estimate an additional $100,000 applied to staff, equipment and ancillary costs for digital media to produce the best possible social media content.


The Buckeyes strategize their social media campaign with its frequent creativity meetings consisting of graduate assistants, recruiting assistants and interns. The meetings, led by director of player personnel Mark Pantoni, create ideas for graphics, short videos, and GIFs to send to recruits through social media.

Before last season’s matchup between Clemson and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinals, Max Huggins, a Clemson senior, wore Snapchat goggles during the team’s media availability. Andy Turner, a sophomore, carried a $3,000 camera and commented about how proud he was about Clemson’s Mannequin Challenge.

This is the new world of recruiting with a unique form of reaching out to today’s youth through social media.

If coaches and administrators play it straight, without personality or knowledge of social media trends, they face the danger of being passed over by more creative and fun-loving coaches and athletic departments that do not hold back.

Gone are the days of only getting to know the parents sitting in the living room. Today’s recruiting is more about making a recruit laugh or marvel about how cool the head coach can be away from the football field.   

About Javier Morales
Javier Morales has worked as a sports journalist for more than 25 years. He reported for The Arizona Daily Star for 13 years. He was the Star’s beat reporter for the Arizona men’s basketball program when the Wildcats won the national title in 1996-97. A 2010 Arizona Press Club award winner, Morales operates the blog site AllSportsTucson.com.

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