Young Giants embrace pitfalls, profits of life on social media

He has to.

He does not always want to and, perhaps sometime in the future, he will pull away from it. For now, though, Sterling Shepard admits his existence, both professional and personal, is intertwined with social media.

He insists he is aware of the pitfalls and understands how winning a game with the Giants versus losing a game affects the entire dynamic. He is also 24 years old and a smartphone in his hand might as well be an appendage he was born with.

“Every time you get on social media, it’s like having a press conference, kinda,’’ Shepard told The Post during a break from the grind of training camp. “You don’t want to do anything that can hurt the team or distract the team. But at the same time, it’s also another business of its own.

“This day and age, there’s a lot of money in social media and it’s something that you have to have. I think a lot of the older players, they don’t really realize that, that there’s a lot of money in social media and you have to take advantage of it.’’

There is no one on the Giants’ roster older than Eli Manning, and the 37-year old quarterback is a staunch social-media evader. He does not use it, acknowledge it or, if you listen to one of his much younger wide receivers, come close to understanding it.

“He doesn’t do social media, at all,’’ Shepard said. “He doesn’t even like anybody putting him on social media. He doesn’t even know how it works half the time. He asks me all the time, ‘So what do you do with a tweet, you tweet it out?’ He’s always asking questions on how it works. He has no idea. He’s clueless. He doesn’t have any of it on his phone, nowhere. Pretty private guy. Family man.’’

Shepard also considers himself a family man, recently married to Chanel Iman, a fashion model best known for her work as a Victoria’s Secret Angel. Chanel and Sterling are expecting their first child, a girl, in within weeks. The courtship, the marriage, the wedding, the pregnancy, the baby shower were all captured and shared on social media.

“I think it’s all based on what you want to reveal and let out to the public,’’ Shepard said. “People have their different reasons why they do certain things on social media. Me, I’m kinda open, especially my marriage. Don’t really mind it. That’s part of [his wife’s] job, she has to be active, that’s huge in her world.’’

When their daughter is born, Shepard is not sure how he will feel about all this. He said Brandon Marshall, the veteran receiver with the Giants last season, refrained from putting his kids on social media and advised caution in that area.

“That’s something to think about,’’ Shepard said. “Your kid is a different thing. We’ll see.’’

The new coaching regime, directed by Pat Shurmur, has not instituted any restrictions, other than using common sense.

“I wouldn’t say it was a warning, it was more of a PSA,” said Zak DeOssie, the 33-year old long-snapper who has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter but rarely posts. “You got to understand, no matter where you are and what you’re doing, whatever posts you put out there, you’re representing not just your own personal brand, but the New York Giants, and I think that should take precedent before anyone throws anything out there.

“I understand, everyone wants to market their brand or whatever, but when push comes to shove, there has to be a cost-benefit analysis before every post. It’s not rocket science, it’s pretty simple.’’

It is not always so simple. Many a professional athlete has run smack into controversy spawned solely by a social-media post or comment. Recently, major league baseball players have been castigated when insensitive tweets, thumbed and posted as teenagers, surfaced years later.

“I just personally steer away from it because I don’t see the benefit, myself,’’ Shurmur told The Post. “But what I do encourage our players, when they hit send it’s there forever. So be very, very aware — it’s here to stay.

“That goes back to, we as coaches used to be trained to avoid it all, don’t say anything, try to keep it all a secret. Now, everything’s out there. I think it’s very important that they really, really are conscious of once I hit send, is that something my mother would want to see? Is it something I’d be proud of when I have children and they see it? They got to be really conscious about how they represent themselves.’’

Manning is on one end of the spectrum, Odell Beckham Jr. is on the other. Beckham is the king of Giants social media, with 11.2 million followers on Instagram and 3.69 million on Twitter. Shepard also is more active on Instagram (514,000 followers) than he is on Twitter (94,700 followers) and realizes the same, seemingly innocuous message — the team is working hard to get better — is received quite differently after a loss than it is after a victory.

Still, he says he feels an obligation to pull back the curtain and let his followers in.

“You have to be active,’’ Shepard said. “You have a following and they want to know kinda the behind-the-scenes stuff, whether good or bad, that’s what you got to do.’’

Most Giants players are on some sort of social media, at least occasionally.

Saquon Barkley is a rookie, but not an ordinary rookie in terms of social-media presence. Befitting his burgeoning fame, he has 208,000 Twitter followers and nearly 1 million (974,000) followers on Instagram; on both platforms he steers clear of controversy. Eli Apple enjoys sharing his thoughts on the NBA with his 84,500 Twitter followers and Damon “Snacks” Harrison’s 58,500 Twitter followers know all about what motivates him (he was undrafted and at times feels under-appreciated) and his desire to “hunt” the opponent on game days.

Even the largely reticent Ereck Flowers is a social-media participant, although he is not exactly burning through his data. The most recent tweet to his 12,800 followers was in July 2016.

Shepard figures there’s money in social media by building his brand. He is in the third year of the four-year, $5.9 million contract signed as a rookie second-round draft pick. He will be looking for a lucrative second NFL deal. If he gets it, perhaps he will navigate away from social media, he says. Perhaps.

“Do away with all of it, that would be nice,’’ Shepard said. “I wish I didn’t have to do it. Eli has a whole bunch of money, so he’s not really worried about the money part of that. For guys like me, it’s good for me. You think sometimes, ‘If I didn’t have social media, I wouldn’t see some of the nasty comments after a loss or whatever.’ That’s just the way it goes. You kinda have to have tough skin.’’

Beckham headed into training camp alerting his Instagram followers he was stepping off the platform for a while, writing, “For now my focus is to ball and get better everyday!’’ Not much later this summer, Beckham is expected to sign a mega-deal that could approach $100 million. Once he secures it, maybe he backs off on social media entirely.

“I don’t know, he might,’’ Shepard said, before smiling and thinking otherwise. “There still might be a whole bunch of money for him on that.’’

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