Twitter

My brother-in-law Paul Gastonguay, who is the head tennis coach at Bates College, forwarded me an article about using Twitter as a recruiting tool.

 

For context, I have had a number of conversations with Paul over the years about the challenges of recruiting players to play tennis for his team. There are NCAA recruiting rules in place that attempt to put all teams on an even playing field and to protect the recruits from being hounded or pressured (or killed with unsolicited text messages when they don’t have a messaging plan…).

 

The article, by Dan Tudor, does a nice job of explaining why coaches should investigate using Twitter. And he lays out a clear argument for why he believes that using Twitter for recruiting is within the letter of the NCAA rules. In particular, he points out that:

  • 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 13.4.1.2.

I’m not an expert on NCAA rules, but it does seem that you can stay within the guidelines using Twitter. I would point out that you could also step over the lines that he mentions–using Twitter’s direct message capability for a private message, for example. And you can send graphics and images… so Twitter isn’t guaranteed to be ‘safe,’ but if it is allowable it is a tool that coaches most certainly should be using. As with anything, just do it responsibly.

 

OK, hopefully that was interesting to the NCAA coaches among you, but I share this more because I think that the same ideas can be applied to using Twitter as tool for any admissions recruiting. Kids and families looking at a school want to get a feel for what day to day life there is like. Imagine encouraging all admission prospects to follow @YourSchoolAdmissions then making it part of your admission team’s culture to post frequent updates about exciting, interesting things happening at the school. Tweet about an upcoming open house, or a big soccer game, or a guest speaker at the school. Post links to blog updates (you are blogging about your school, right?). Retweet interesting things written by students or teachers at your school. Keep it real. Make sure that everything that you post has some value to your prospects.

 

And as you gather prospect followers, keep checking your web stats (if you don’t have Google Analytics, or my preferred tool, Clicky, tracking your site, get that started pronto). You can monitor how many hits come to your site from Twitter. A nice step toward measuring ROI.

 

Twitter doesn’t replace emails or letters. It isn’t a silver bullet. But it is one more way to establish a relationship with your prospects and to help them to get a feel for what your school is about and why they should be eager to become a student there.

Steve Ritchie

Steve Ritchie

Co-founder at edSocialMedia | The Proof Group

Steve is a co-founder of edSocialMedia and of The Proof Group. He is a former independent school teacher, coach and dorm parent who loves that his jobs keep him in the middle of the school world.