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Volume 23 No. 17
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How NFL prospects use social media

With the NFL draft coming up this week, many of the top prospects are taking a look at their social media personas to make themselves more attractive to future NFL employers and marketing partners, according to a study conducted by Turnkey Intelligence on behalf of Sports Business Journal.

Turnkey reviewed the public social media accounts of 100 of the top NFL draft prospects to see how socially engaged each player has been; if inappropriate content or language was seen on his public profile; if he publicly engaged in controversial issues or shared political opinions; whether he talked about an NFL team or not; and if he had taken steps to clean up his accounts over the past few months.

Every prospect had at least one social media account.

The real deal

Although access to the accounts of a player often requires his permission, Turnkey reported that many times their analysts were easily granted such access simply by making a request through the player’s social media page.

To receive a blue verification badge from Facebook, for example, account holders must provide the site a photo ID, an explanation as to why they should be verified, and relevant URL(s) that prove people are interested in their content.

“Obtaining verified status on social media platforms is a social media insurance policy for athletes, as it prevents fraud, protects the athlete’s reputation, and eliminates any chance of an unnecessary PR issue for a team,” said Rich Calabrese, Turnkey executive vice president and general manager, who oversaw the project.


How often the prospects posted to their social media accounts


Delete that post

Fifty-six percent of the prospects deleted at least one old post. 

The top 50 prospects are more likely to have performed social maintenance and to be more engaged on social. This group is less likely to share or engage in political commentary and/or explicit language or content, according to the study. One prospect, who Turnkey did not name but said is a projected second-round pick, deleted 11,500 posts.


How the prospects engaged on social media



Here are Turnkey’s assessments of projected early, middle and late-round draft picks. Projections are based on CBS Sports and ESPN, as of April 15.

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|| O P P O R T U N I T Y || 🙏🏾

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Devin Bush II (first round)

Michigan, linebacker

■ Similar to other prospects, his most frequent posts are about his family and football.

■ Strong social following on multiple platforms with a current social reach of over 57,000.

■ Advocates against the use of drugs, going so far as to share facts and the negative impact of drug use.

■ Explicit language has been seen on his social profiles; has tweeted negatively about other teams due to his Green Bay Packers fandom.

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Jerry Tillery (late first or early second round)

Notre Dame, defensive tackle

■ His social behavior is tame and pointed. He has been careful not to have anything highly contentious on his profiles.

■ Rarely posts anything from himself to social media (mostly shares and retweets).

■ On Instagram, travel and adventure posts were his most common outside of football.

■ Behind the scenes posts. He shares photos of himself and his teammates in the locker room, practice, on bonding trips, and photos from games.

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Mack Wilson (late second round)

Alabama, linebacker

■ Posts feature workouts, faith, family, and significant other.

■ Has used language that is not league or brand-friendly, including last week on his Facebook bio. His bio on Twitter referred to a biblical passage and information on how to contact his marketing agency.

■ Often mentions God and being “blessed” but could come across as disingenuous based on other language used.

■ Instagram profile is private and has a small following, but accepted Turnkey’s “follow” request within hours.


First Look podcast, with social media discussion at the 14:55 mark: