Dan Tudor

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Expand Your EmojicabularySunday, July 31st, 2016

ken1by Ken Whittaker, Front Rush

I have a confession to make. I used to think emojis were useless. I didn’t get the point. When I made the switch from Android to iPhone (gasp!) in 2011, emojis were just gaining popularity. Some of you might remember that to even enable emojis on the iPhone, you had to go to the keyboard settings and add the specific emoji keyboard (the horror!). A friend of mine stopped by my dorm room one day, and must have noticed I was still typing emojis the “original” way 🙂 She said something like, “You gotta get emojis” before leaving. “Nah,” I thought to myself, “it’s faster to type the symbols.” Fast forward five years, and 😍.

Now, if you don’t know what emojis are – you’re probably very confused. In short, they are cartoon like representation of emotions, images, shapes, food…and just about anything. It’s not a new concept – but neither is Season 32 of Survivor. Everywhere you look – emojis have popped up. Just last week my auto insurance company sent me a statement reminder and had a dollar bill emoji in the subject line. This naturally begs the question – are emojis professional? I wouldn’t venture that far – but when used in the right context – they can be a great tool. They’re funny and can often summarize a feeling that might otherwise be too awkward to type out in words 🐢.

At Front Rush, we use an instant message client to communicate as a team, which is especially convenient considering many of us work across the country. It’s no secret that emojis are a huge part of our day to day interactions – whether they are for fun, to drive a point home, give props for a job well done, or even help to take lunch orders 🍕. There is no question that your recruits and players use emojis. I’d be willing to guess most of you also use them as well. Here are a few ways you can use emojis in your day to day recruiting methods:

Break the Ice

Using emojis when communicating with recruits lets them know you’re a fun person (I know you are) – someone that’s not just all about business. It gives a message more of a personality and could even help with some confusion. For example, “I saw your video from last weekend’s tournament” vs “I saw your video from last weekend’s tournament 👏” Subtle, but it definitely sends positive vibes their way. The best (worst?) part is there’s no limit to how many you can use, however…

Don’t Go Overboard 🙄

Some people like to string multiple emojis together to create a sentence. Honestly, I never really saw the point in this. I think of emojis as helpers, not complete replacements for entire words in a paragraph. It’s possible this mentality might change in the near future, as Apple has announced a feature coming in the next version of iOS that will allow users to tap on a word and replace it with an emoji. 🆗👍(That’s emoji for, “Hmm, ok. Got it.”)

International 🌎

If the situation arises where you’re still brushing up on your foreign language skills, emojis can help you in a bind. As I mentioned earlier, emojis can represent just about anything – including emotions. It’s like tech slang, so the more you can pull from your existing emojicabulary, the safer you’ll be.

Familiarize Yourself 🤓

Ok, so maybe I haven’t sold you yet. Maybe you’re still acting like the 2011 version of me who was a holdout. The truth is, emojis are just such a common part of texting, instant messaging, and even emailing, that there’s no doubt you’ll come across them if you haven’t already. Emojis are continually being added to the universal library (in fact, 72 new emojis were released last month), so it’s important to know what they are and what some of them mean. This resource (http://emojipedia.org) will help you get started.

The Not-So-Surprising Reason Your Recruits Prefer Text Messages to Phone CallsMonday, November 23rd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.14.58 PMIt’s not that they “can’t” talk, its just that they have plenty of reasons to text instead.

Simple as that.

I find that’s challenging for many college coaches we get to work with closely on two fronts:

  1. There’s a resistance to switch from phone calls to text-based communication from college recruiters. Phone calls are more personal, and usually reveal more to a coach. Texting and direct messaging? It might seem disjointed and incomplete. Most coaches that I talk to just plain prefer a good-old-fashioned phone call over electronic messaging.
  2. Many college coaches don’t understand the “why” behind the recent switch in communication preferences by their prospects.

I can’t help with the first challenge. That’s up to an individual coach and his or her personal preferences in how they communicate with a recruit.

But when it comes to the “why”, there are some key reasons that drive this generation of prospects to prefer electronic communication. They actually mirror some of the communication challenges that companies are discovering with the millennials that they’ve hired (but can’t get to answer their phone calls).

If we take a look at the five primary reasons millennials don’t like talking on the phone that are outlined in the article, we’ll get some good insights into why many of your recruits just aren’t all that excited about the idea of spending time with you on the phone:

It’s distracting to your recruits. Phone calls tend to force them to stop everything, find a place to focus on a conversation, and devote time to you and only you. While you, as a college recruiter, kind of like that aspect of one-on-one phone calls, your recruit – like the millennial generation before them – often finds that a phone call distracts them from whatever they were doing before, while texting and social media direct messaging allows them to communicate with you when it’s convenient for them.

They might see it as presumptuous.  In other words, a phone call presumes that they should drop everything and talk to you. Texting and direct messaging is more collaborative, in their mind, because it allows them to think about the right way to reply to your message, and gives them time in which to do it. (By the way, you can lessen the potential negative impact of this reason if you remember these three rules we’ve told you about before, Coach).

Phone calls tend to get superfluous. Getting to the point in a phone call is sometimes a series of missteps, tangents and can involve a bigger time commitment than it needs to be. As we discuss all the time during our On-Campus Workshops we lead for college athletic department coaching staffs, that’s not how this generation of recruits tend to communicate. They like short bursts of information that are on point. Coaches that don’t get to the point right away in a phone call will risk losing the right to have future phone conversations with their prospect. Text messaging forces you to put your thoughts into words, and do it in a concise, to-the-point manner.

Phone calls can be ineffective in reaching your prospect. Especially if you end up leaving a voicemail. Trying to get this generation of prospect to return a call is challenging, to stay the least! But when you text your prospect, as the study in the article finds, it’s likely that your message will be returned within just three minutes. That kind of quick, engaged interaction has to count for something, right?

Phone calls always take longer than promised. Your prospect knows that all to well, which is why a lot of coach phone calls are immediately sent off to voicemail purgatory. In our previous research study that determined how high school prospects use social media in the recruiting process, they made it clear that one of the reasons they tended to like texting and direct messaging better than phone calls was because it was more time-efficient, and didn’t take up big chances of time trying to talk to a college coach on the phone.

I tell you all this because if you understand the why behind your prospect’s preference for texting and social media messaging over phone calls, it might be easier for you, as a serious college recruiter, to develop a strategy for using this kind of modern technology more regularly as a part of your overall recruiting strategy.

Your prospects are looking for something simple and to the point. That holds true for anything you write them in an email or a letter, and it definitely is true when you figure out what method is best for more personalized, one-on-one communication.

Get to it, Coach.

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