While some people may not like the idea of living behind screens (it’s so impersonal,) for a lot of organizations, the ease and immediacy of online communication is invaluable. One such group that values the connectivity of social media is college coaches and recruiters.

For many coaches, social media sites like Twitter offer a chance to connect to students in ways that have eluded them before. The NCAA has tight restrictions on how coaches may contact potential recruits, but they’re far less strict with connection through social media, and there are no rules against a coach looking at recruits’ social media accounts.

This unfettered access can work well for both coaches and athletes, but let’s not forget that an improper social media presence can have damaging effects on students’ recruitment or scholarship options. There have been numerous cases as of late where high school athletes have lost their spot on a top college’s team or have been stripped of scholarships. Many top university coaches have also routinely tweeted warnings and stories of how they have had to drop many athletes due in large part to their social media presence.

While it could be easy to simply remove your entire social media presence to make sure you don’t damage your image, Tim Parros believes that students who do this lack one of the best resources for promoting and gaining the attention of coaches.

“It’s really is in the best interest of student athletes to keep their social media accounts, but to also keep their accounts carefully, and thoughtfully moderated.” Tim tells his clients. Here’s a few easy ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ from us at Parros College Planning to make sure you are creating the best social media presence for student athletes looking to get recruited.

Follow coaches and colleges that you are interested in attending. Students may question if it’s a good idea to put themselves up-front and center to college coaches on social media. But the fact of the matter is that following coaches on Twitter is a great way to promote yourself and gain their attention. Following these individuals can offer the students better access to the latest updates from coaches.

Follow negative or inappropriate pages and users, or people that you don’t know personally. Birds of a feather as they say, so when trying to market yourself online, it’s in your best interest to distance yourself from inappropriate, profanity-laden accounts. Unfollow or block accounts that promote possibly illegal activities. Your social media accounts are all about upkeep, and you need to work diligently to make sure you are monitoring who you follow and who follows you.

Promote positivity and personal ‘brand.’ Think about who you are as an athlete and think of a few positive words you think define you. Use these words as a filter before you post anything to you social media accounts—if you think what you are about to post doesn’t cater to your ‘brand,’ simple: don’t post it.

Ignore past tweets and posts. Remember that it’s all about upkeep! Go through your social media accounts with a fine-toothed comb, delete posts that you think reflect negatively like mean tweets directed at rival teams, or images that may show you engaging in activities that could be detrimental to your recruitment. As they say, if you don’t think you could show it to your parents, don’t let the world see it. This clean-up doesn’t just apply to Twitter and Facebook, but to any social media account you may have. Do a quick Google search of yourself, see if there are any old accounts that you need to either delete or clean-up as well.

Tweet personal achievements and appropriate events. Twitter and Facebook are great resources to ‘market’ yourself, and if you have a few coaches following you, they would love to see your personal achievements. You can use social media to post athletic and academic achievements, college visits, and scholarships awarded. Remember to be humble, and thankful for these achievements. Coaches love to see students who are mature enough to show their respect and appreciation.

Retweet from negative followers and follow/like brands and products. When you retweet, that tweet immediately becomes associated with you; just because you didn’t originally write it, doesn’t mean it’s not ‘yours’ now, so it’s best to avoid retweeting from inappropriate accounts. Furthermore, you should avoid association with (ergo, unfollowing or unliking) products and businesses. You will be an amateur athlete if you are recruited, and you don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, intentionally or not.

Use your privacy settings. Privacy settings are there for a reason, use them! Someone can gain access to your social media account simply by Googling your name, so save yourself from the danger by going private. Once you are private, it doesn’t mean you get off scot-free, however. You still need to follow all of the previous rules, presenting your accounts as professional and mature, and free of hazardous content.

Allow access to those who could ‘bait’ you. Social media is home to a multitude of diversity, and that diversity can led to some not so productive arguments. It’s best for you to monitor who you follow by keeping those who may ‘bait’ you into an argument out of your social media circle. Of those who you still follow or are friends with, don’t engage in controversial conversations like politics or religion.

All of this is very important and Parros College Planning’s Student Athlete Package was designed to help athletes ‘market’ themselves. “Being able to conduct yourself on social media properly could determine whether or not you play on the team of your dreams,” argues Tim. Make sure you know how to control your social media before it can control you.