This past week I joined 2.6 million other people by signing up for Twitter.
And it’s only a matter of time before you do the same, Coach.
Like the Internet a decade ago, this is a tool that a lot of you will ignore for a while. And your competitors are just fine with that. It’s also bound to get the attention of the NCAA at some point in the future, but as of right now Twitter fits nicely into that warm, comfy “between the lines” area in the NCAA recruiting rule book.
In a nutshell, Twitter is a cross between a text message and a blog. The purpose of Twitter is to give your friends and family regular updates on what you are doing: Everything from what you’re eating for breakfast, to what you’re watching on T.V., to your thoughts on the BCS bowl games. Your messages can be up to 140 characters long, similar to a text message. Other people who are on Twitter can follow your conversation through logging on to Twitter.com, or by receiving messages straight to their cell phone.
How is it beginning to be used by coaches who want to use it to help their recruiting? They are posting the daily activities of what’s going on with them and their team. They’re talking about how practice went, what their plans are for the evening, an award one of their athletes won…all of the stuff that makes up your day.
Twitter’s audience is impressive. Their total audience is now about 2.6 million users, most of them high school or college age. They’ve added more than a million new users just in the last 90 days, and they are getting more popular by the minute.
Boring? Maybe to you. However, to a teenage recruit who is trying to get a feel for the coach and program that is recruiting them, the information gives them a valuable insight into the “real” person that they are trying to get to know. As coaches begin to use Twitter, they are reporting that athletes are connecting with them sooner, and more deeply. The prospects you are recruiting care about what you do during the day, and make judgements about whether you are the right fit or not by seeing who you are as a real, live person (not the guy with the impressive bio in the media guide you sent them).
Now, what about the NCAA rules on this type of communication? Here is how Twitter apparantly fits into that gray area I mentioned in the NCAA rules, specifically what is outlined in the Division I Manual, section 220.127.116.11:
- You are not sending a message to a specific recruit as is prohibited in the rules. Instead, you are submitting information into a web-based system that anyone – prospect or not – can decide to follow.
- Twitter is not text messaging. Whether or not a prospect, or anyone else for that matter, decides to receive those messages on their phone via text message from the Twitter website is completely up to them, not you.
- Your messages are not unique to one person. They can be seen by everyone. Therefore, you really can’t use Twitter to talk to one prospect. If you did, the entire world would be able to read what you were telling them.
- There are no graphics or images allowed on Twitter messages, and it doesn’t cost anything. Both of those things are in compliance with NCAA rules as outlined in 18.104.22.168.
Let me review what we’ve told you about Twitter so far, and why it should really excite you as a free, easy-to-use, kind-of-like-text-messaging recruiting tool:
- Short messages that are read by your audience who you can encourage to follow your daily activities.
- Complete free.
- Creates a deep connection between you and the people who are following you.
- Delivered in a medium being used by today’s teens.
- Compliant for all NCAA division level coaches.
- Enables you to communicate with prospects, your team, fans and alumni from your computer or from your phone (yes, you can text in updated Twitter messages to the masses from your phone).
Twitter is extremely simple to use, and you can get started quickly. Just go to Twitter.com and sign-up. After that, you can invite people to follow you directly via email. It’s not just people on Twitter, either. Companies are using it to promote new products, media outlets are using it to report from events…even the NCAA uses Twitter (I have signed up to get the latest news from the NCAA News at www.twitter.com/ncaanews and I also get their blog posts updated regularly at www.twitter.com/martancaa. I would advise you to follow both once you start your own Twitter account…and if you have absolutely nothing better to do, you can also track my Twitter page at www.twitter.com/dantudor. I’ll be posting some unique content to people who sign-up as followers.)
Is Twitter the “magic potion” that will suddenly enable you to land every one of your top recruits? Of course not. However, it is a technology tool like Front Rush and Dartfish and blogging that can give you substanitive advantages over your competition when it comes to “connecting” with your prospects.
We’ll be talking about Twitter at our series of coaching conferences that are held throughout the country. Want to find out more? Click here for the details.
Are you a SFC Premium Member? Look for more of my tips on using Twitter later this week. There are some other important details that we just didn’t have time to talk about in this article today.