Young Athletes: Ready, Set … Tweet

Twitter is the weapon of choice in the social-media battleground for Andrew Brandt. He relishes the “140-character bombs” that he can tweet at will. He knows that his followers—and soon-to-be-followers—will respond if he has relevant and unique knowledge and perspective to share. More importantly, it is the “way to build your brand,” and a tool that he believes will only get bigger.

Brandt, a full-time lecturer in sports business at Wharton, shared his views on social media with high-school students during the NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program, a leadership and achievement recognition program for a select group of male and female athletes.

Perhaps it helps to listen to someone adept at building his own brand, and then rebranding it, and rebranding it. Before Wharton, Brandt served as vice president of the Green Bay Packers and worked as a player agent at ProServ and Woolf Associates. Now, besides his teaching work, he also is president and writer at the National Football Post website and frequent commentator on ESPN outlets.

Brandt gave a heavy dose of admonition to balance his enthusiasm for Twitter. He held up NFL running backs Arian Foster and Rashard Mendenhall, who posted about a hamstring injury and Bin Laden, respectively, and found themselves in hot water for doing so.

The urge is to “just tweet it out” and promote yourself through this powerful and direct communication tool, but Brandt suggested to the students that they always reread and edit each tweet, considering it more like an old-fashioned letter or email. Yet a tweet is bigger; it’s “universal,” he warned.

“Everyone can see it,” he said, even if you delete it five seconds after you send it.

The attendees at the NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program also ought to remember that they do not just represent themselves on social media; they represent their parents, schools and, when they’re older, their employers.

Thirty-six students participated in the NFL-Wharton Prep Leadership Program on Wharton’s Philadelphia campus from June 25 to 27. Organized by the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, the workshop provided leadership training and instruction from Wharton professors, current and former student athletes, and NFL executives.

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