With the revolution of social media, celebrities are more accessible than ever before. At the same time, those who aren’t always in the limelight now have the opportunity to build his or her personal brand and that’s exactly what free agent offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz has done with his use of Twitter. He joined the social media site in 2011 when he had to sit out with injury.
“For a guy like me who plays offensive line, who’s not well known, this is the best way for me to kinda voice my opinion on any subject, is to use social media,” he says. “To find a way to be clever in 140 characters is tough. I think I do a good job of it.”
Schwartz shares his thoughts about football and other topics he is interested in, including cooking and his family life, to his 35,000 followers. On Instagram, he recently celebrated his two-year wedding anniversary by sharing photos of the special day. He also posts photos and videos of his son, Alex, and has created his own hashtag, #schwartzing.
“People seem to like when you give human stories and human emotions,” he says, “so I like doing that.”
To protect his privacy and balance the need for transparency on social media, the eight-year-veteran says that he asks his wife before posting anything about his family. He is aware of the sensitive nature of the Internet and that people can be harsher behind the guise of a computer screen than in real life. Therefore, he has developed his own strategy about whether or not to make a post.
“If you have to think about a tweet, you probably shouldn’t send it,” Schwartz says. “It’s probably a) not very good of a tweet and b) it probably shouldn’t be sent. If you have to sit there and think, ‘How do I word this? How do I say this in the right way?’ If it takes you a while, then just don’t send it.”
He used his own advice recently during the Republican Debate. He was sharing his opinion throughout the night, but says one joke he had to think about did not make it to his timeline.
“I just wrote the tweet and I was like, ‘Ah, not very good,’” he says. “I tried to change it. I was like, ‘Oh, that’s done. Too much.’ If it’s too much, if you can’t send it out naturally, then you probably shouldn’t do that.”
Schwartz says that he has grown more and more confident in his social media presence as he has learned these strategies and developed his voice. Now, he is not afraid to block people to who he views as rude or just looking to cause trouble.
“As I get more into social media and the older I get, I’m pretty comfortable with anything I say,” he says. “So if I say something that I feel is controversial or won’t be well taken, I’m ok with that now. When I was younger, maybe I didn’t want to give, be so opinionated or I didn’t want to make waves. Now, I don’t care as much. If I tweet something, then that’s how I feel.”
Schwartz has also furthered his voice more than social media by utilizing The Players’ Tribune, a publication founded by New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter for athletes to express themselves.
“It’s a good voice for athletes,” Schwartz says. “It’s been a positive platform for us. There’s always negative stories that get posted because those are the ones that get the most clicks and this is a website that’s really done a good job of bringing light to positive stories about athletes and giving people an inside look.”
Further than that, he started the Block Em Up podcast with his friend Duke Mayweather, who is trying to get into recruiting. When faced with another injury this year, this time a leg fracture, Schwartz once again turned a negative situation into a positive and used the time to develop his voice.
“I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while and then when I got hurt, I just thought to myself, ‘Hey, why not do this?’” he says of Block Em Up. “I like to give my opinions on social media, why not try a podcast where you get a longer form?”
The podcast has more than 20 episodes and has featured Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden and Schwartz’ brother, Mitchell, who signed a five-year, $33 million contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It was great,” Schwartz says of having his brother on the show right after he signed the deal. “It was a fun episode.”
As a free agent, Schwartz is now playing the waiting game, but he seems happy with the work that he is doing outside of football to hopefully position himself to make a career as a commentator or analyst after he leaves the gridiron. He feels confident in his personal brand and knows that he will be able to continue to capitalize on people’s curiosity in the lives of football players, from the superstar quarterbacks to the offensive linemen.
“Everyone wants to know what the athlete does all day,” he says. “What do they do? How’s their family life? A lot of people want that information and that’s what social media has done. It’s been able to give an inside look into my life and I’ve been able to share my opinions and then really that’s how you grow your brand.”
Follow Geoff Schwartz on Twitter and Instagram @GeoffSchwartz
Follow the Block Em Up podcast on Twitter @BlockEmUp
This post was written by Ruling Sports contributor, Victoria Hernandez. You can follow Victoria on Twitter @LadyViii.