Why Athletes (At All Levels) Need To Be Paying Attention To Social Media
Updated: Jul 1
The lifespan of a professional athlete can, unfortunately, be a short one.
Therefore, it can be a good idea for them to ‘make hay while the sun shines’ and capitalise on the tremendous opportunities available by building a personal brand on social media.
Curiously, most Australian athletes are underutilising social media. For some this is a personal preference; for athletes who are shy and reserved with a strong value for privacy, slipping under the radar and refraining from social media usage could be a great choice in order to focus on their sporting performance.
But they may be missing out on some tremendous monetary opportunities and regret it in the long-run. The benefits of an athlete devoting time and resources into building a social media presence can be mind-blowing.
Here are three reasons why athletes at all levels should invest in building a social media presence.
1) Destination for your point-of-view
Having a large social media audience is a hedge against the mainstream media. With many sportspersons having a strained relationship with traditional media, there is a constant fear that their comments will be misquoted or taken out of context.
Many sports journalists approach stories with an agenda, or from a certain angle, which may differ from the image an athlete wants to project. With their own platform, an athlete has a chance to tell their version of events, completely unfiltered. It’s a defence against the media, who generally only look after their best interests, which is selling papers, generating clicks & engagement or driving ratings.
2) Speaking Engagements/Public Appearances
Sportsmen nights and business luncheons have been a popular form of entertainment around Australia and the rest of the world for a long time – and they’re not going anywhere soon.
Clubs and other organisations are prepared to pay up to five figures for current and former athletes to tell their story to an interested audience. It goes without saying that the bigger the brand an athlete has built, the more in demand they will be and the more money they will command for their appearance.
Athletes should be more transparent and open through their social media posts showing their genuine personality in the process. They should give fans an insight into their lives outside of their professional environment, their personality quirks and outside interests. This will build a stronger brand and following online and translate to many opportunities in the outside of the digital world.
3) Sponsorship & Endorsement Opportunities
Not every athlete will get the opportunity to be sponsored by the big brands like Nike, Adidas or Coca-Cola.
It’s time to think smaller.
Does that athlete love fishing? Cool. They should connect with fans through that passion by posting their thoughts, questions or photos. It might even result in an endorsement opportunity with a fishing charter company or fishing apparel line. Sure, it won’t generate LeBron James dollars, but it could add thousands to an athlete’s earning potential.
Taking advantage of social media is especially important for amateur, lower-profile and niche-sport athletes because these people fail to receive a great deal of mainstream media attention.
It allows for them to be targeted by smaller, local businesses and brands interested in sponsoring athletes in that niche. As more businesses in Australian turn to influencer marketing, these medium-to-lower tier athletes are going to become higher in demand.
The life of an athlete is interesting. Even those at a semi-professional level or at the beginning of their careers are living fascinating lives that should be documented.
Athletes can offer a behind-the-scenes peak into a world unfamiliar with most people; the untold stories, ups & downs, setbacks and triumphs, the hours put in the gym. Following athletes as they prepare for an upcoming competition gives fans the sense of being connecting to a movement. We can all think of times when we have barely been able to contain our excitement in the weeks, days and hours before a highly-anticipated sporting event.
Building a personal brand on social media can bring in tremendous monetary value, opportunities pre and post-retirement, and allow athletes to communicate on their own terms.