Social media plays pivotal role in recruitment, brand building
4 mins read

Social media plays pivotal role in recruitment, brand building

USD’s athletic teams all utilize social media as a means of recruitment and building a personal brand.

“We instruct our players in August with a presentation done by Northwest Mutual called ‘Build Your Brand,'” said Kayla Tetschlag, assistant women’s basketball coach. “It’s about how your presence on social media actually produces your own personal brand, and you want to make sure that future employers will see what they want to see.”

Behind the brand 

“We tell the girls that they need to focus on how they want to convey themselves,” said Michael Runde, volleyball associate head coach. “You represent your team and our university. Don’t do stuff to negatively impact yourself now, or in the future.”

Because USD isn’t as large as other schools such as University of Iowa or Iowa State University, Felts said it’s even more important to put an emphasis on USD’s brand.

“We want to spread the South Dakota brand,” said Colby Felts, the offensive quality control position on the football staff. “We want our name out there for recruits to see the brand.”

Along with building their brand, each team at USD uses different techniques to create effective social media usage for its specific audience.

“We have three main groups that our social media pages are directed towards. Recruits, parents of recruits and alumni. About 10 percent of (social media posts) are directed at the team,” said Lucky Huber, head of men and women’s track and field program.

Team takeovers on Twitter

The volleyball team puts the highest emphasis on generating media for recruits, Runde said.

“When something good happens, I get it out there,” Runde said. “I want to highlight good things, and give recruits a chance to see the outside stuff on

Leah Dusterhoft | The Volante

the team through playertakeovers on Snapchat or Instagram. We want to show the interaction between players and behind the scenes stuff.”

Coaches also generate excitement about the daily work put in by student-athletes.

“We like to tweet about fun workouts, even about the Friday morning grind when we are up early and working out hard,” said Jason Mahowald, head coach of men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams.

Not only do coaches want to build a brand, but they want to get the brand out to as many people as possible.

“It is a way for us to stay in front of recruits without being overdone,” said Rick Karius, director of operations for men’s basketball. “They are going through their normal day and we pop into it without being overbearing. It adds another level to recruitment.”

Role in recruitment relationships 

Coaches want to get their information in front of recruits, and vice versa.

“We look at recruits’ social media,” Karius said. “We like to figure out what their favorite NBA player is and who else they follow. You can learn a lot about a kid’s favorite things just by looking at their social media.”

Not all social media usage builds good branding or relationships with potential recruits.

“We vent their social media accounts,” Mahowald said. “Some stuff has popped up and we have decided not to offer that sport to the person. It usually just solidifies red flags already spotted in a kid. It’s usually just confirmation.”

This process of building a relationship over phone calls, social media and in-person communication doesn’t stop once the recruit walks on campus, Felts said.

“We follow all of our recruits on social media,” Felts said. “We are constantly evaluating them, from the second we start thinking about recruiting them to the time that they graduate.”

Coaches try to cultivate an atmosphere of positive tweets sent out by all athletes. Many coaches don’t have hard and fast rules, but guidelines to help student-athletes stop and think, Huber said.

“We use the ‘grandma rule’ — if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, then don’t tweet it,” Huber said.


Dufoe is a thrower track and field team. Lucky Huber, head of men and women’s track and field program, was interviewed by another reporter.