Ben Graves, Founder/CEO, was a former D1 student-athlete and recognized the issues facing athletes and athletic programs on social media. Going through the college athletic process at two separate D1 programs, he recognized colleges were not providing students effective help in educating and managing one’s online presence. He and his team, made up of current and former collegiate athletic department staff, software engineers and data scientists, have built the technology to do just that.
Bill Shults, Director of Business Development, is a seasoned collegiate veteran with experience as a Head Coach (swimming), Compliance Professional (FSU, UCONN, FIU), Associate AD with sport and SAAC oversite (UCONN) and Director of Athletic Academic Support (FSU). He then went into private business with JumpForward and helped propel them to become the national leader in Compliance and Recruiting software before joining the Stacked Sports team in November 2015.
What is Stacked Sports?
Stacked Sports provides a solution to the developing problems facing athletes in the age of Social Media dominance. The platform’s goal is to give athletes a better, more intuitive glimpse at their online presence, helping them to see things that the nature of social media makes unclear or unintuitive. We do this using an algorithm to generate what we call a “Stacked Score,” which is derived from more than a dozen metrics of social media behavior, and allows users to compare their score against others to see how they “stack up.” The platform also allows users to quickly see an overview of what activities and conversations of theirs might misrepresent them in the recruiting process or job search. Additionally, we have built out a library of brief educational videos to help student athletes prepare and develop a strong online presence that can help them now and moving forward.
Why develop a platform of this magnitude?
Social media is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the world with every passing year. Standards have evolved for how social interaction works and almost all standards have changed regarding how online privacy, risk, and influence work as well. Social media experts have made a strong effort to help students understand how social media can impact them and how they can best react to it. One solution we have consistently seen is monitoring social media activity or simply talking about social media behavior; the good, the bad, what one should or should not do, which all have value, though the message does not stay with the student. At Stacked Sports we want to provide Student Athletes and eventually all types of users an action based tool that gives continuous feedback about their social media presence. Our platform not only screens and analyzes the user’s posts, but provides the user with tools to build and maintain a strong online presence. The goal is to educate and empower the user to take action if that’s what the user wants to do.
How is this different from Klout and who are your competitors?
Klout’s goal is to help users increase the influence they have on social media — while this is a component of our platform, it is not our sole – or even primary – goal. Telling a user how best to build their sphere of influence is important, but only half of the picture. Not everybody will be -or wants to be- famous, but even then, there is still value in more deeply understanding what one’s online presence looks like to the outside world, beyond just how many people respond to your posts. We incorporate factors like behavioral risk alongside influence to come up with a more holistic understanding of our users that we hope to continually expand on in the coming months. Additionally, this platform is intended to allow users to involve more people than just themselves in their social media management, from advisors or mentors to coaches or parents, anyone the user feels could help them accomplish what they want to accomplish.
Is there value in the high school athlete using this product?
Absolutely — the pitfalls of social media do not apply only to college student athletes, but in many ways, apply even more to high school students/athletes. Traditionally a college coach will evaluate you based on an assortment of measurements, i.e. 40 yard, height/weight, bench press, etc. One of the newest metrics in the recruiting process for college coaches is a prospects social media activity. What better way for a college coach to get an in-depth understanding of a prospect then to see how he or she interacts with friends, type of content one shared/retweets, type of language one uses, time of day one is posting, etc. Some coaches use this metric more than others, but increasingly it’s becoming more and more relevant in the recruiting process.
Do you see the platform having an effect on the college admissions process in the future?
Definitely, whether it is our platform or another company. While colleges may not publicly say so, social media is already widely used during the college admissions process, with admissions officers manually discovering applicants one at a time on each social media platform they intend to screen. Social media evaluation by college admissions offices is not going away, and we suspect it is still in its infancy growth-wise. At this time we are more focused on preparing the user (applicant) for when it is standard practice for an admissions office to use an efficient social media screening tool on applicants.
How can our readers try Stacked Athlete?
One can sign up and try Stacked Athlete, free at stackedsports.com. The freemium version will provide a new user a preview of their last 90 days worth of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram activity. The $11.99/mo enables a user to view a more in-depth analysis of their online presence, receive real-time text notifications of flagged content, add a mentor to also receive those notifications and more.