by Jayson Schmidt, Preseason
Process is everything in the recruiting world.
The same can be said about how you utilize social media as a tool. Your recruiting process needs to be mapped onto your social media content calendar for optimal alignment. It’s the difference between the right message hitting at the right time and the right message hitting at the wrong time. While not inherently harmful, it could be the difference between moving a recruit along in your process and earning their commitment – or not.
As an aside: If you don’t have a timeline for your recruiting process, it’s important that you do. Envision a “start to finish” approach for a recruit, from first contact to enrollment. It might be 34 months or 26 months or 15 months. Like any other gameplan you’d create, a timeline is another roadmap to success for your program.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of having a timeline, let’s look specifically at how social media can be used to support your process.
First, take your process and merge all classes onto a single, year-long calendar. All prospective student-athletes will be consuming content, so it’s important to formalize when certain groups receive certain messages. Ask yourself, can similar messages be grouped? Do they need to stay separate? You’ll find that certain components of your messaging can be scheduled and timed to align with your phone calls, texts, and emails.
Some aspects of your calendar are straightforward. Talking about academic strength and career opportunities is perfectly timed for the weeks surrounding your commencement ceremonies. Highlighting your prime dates for campus visits is smart, too.
If it happens that September is your go-to month for campus visits, repurposing that content in February loops in anyone who missed the original window, no matter where they are in their journey. Plus, virtual visits continue to prove to be highly shareable for recruits.
A good rule of thumb is to refresh your recruiting talking points twice per calendar year. This keeps your messaging feeling fresh and allows your campaigns to be more effective with each recruiting class.
Alternatively, you can increase the recency of your messaging outside of a campaign-like content strategy, but you may alienate those PSAs that are seeing the same messaging over and over.
If you feel like a recruit has missed a vital component of your social strategy – or is late in the recruiting cycle without the proverbial runway to navigate the process – you can re-share content directly to them to make sure they don’t miss out.
On Instagram, for example, you can turn a campaign of stories/reels/posts into a highlight and then directly share that highlight to a recruit via DM. This also gets bonus points because you’re making a contact directly with the opportunity to leave a personal touch.
There are so many moving pieces to recruiting and social media is just one small – but powerful – part of the puzzle. Time spent planning now will catalyze your social media efforts in the new year and ultimately get your coaching staff back to doing what they love… coaching.
This article is the eleventh in a series on athletics branding. Jayson Schmidt is a former NCAA Division II head coach and managing partner of Preseason, a creative agency that helps colleges win.
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