NIL Frequently Asked Questions: "Our student-athletes don't have a lot of social media followers, so NIL isn't really a thing for us."

By FanWord

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In this blog series, we talk about the most pressing and frequent NIL-related questions, statements, and concerns that administrators, coaches, and student-athletes ask us.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the following statement:

“Our student-athletes don’t have a lot of social media followers, so NIL isn’t really a thing for us.”

Learn more about our NIL program – FanWord BrandUp

There is a lot to unwrap here. 

Let’s kick this off by addressing the origin of this statement and why it paints a false picture.

The Misconception

One of the biggest problems we see with the current conversations about NIL is that they are mostly focused on “how much money can student-athletes like Trevor Lawrence make on social media.” 

Rightfully, it’s a very appealing conversation to have and one that draws eyeballs to the new legislation. 

One thing, however, that this message fails to convey is that 99.5% of student-athletes won’t fall into the category of a Trevor Lawrence – and this is perfectly fine.

Student-athletes like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields have a remarkable personal brand which is also reflected in their social media accounts. Their following and engagement numbers make it an attractive investment for brands that want to leverage these student-athletes’ influence to reach a specific demographic. There is no question about this, these high-caliber athletes have the ability to make a lot of money through their social channels.

However, for 99.5% of student-athletes, the playing field will look a bit different. 

Social Media AND More

If the public conversation would shift from “who can make the most money under this new legislation” to “how much money can the average student-athlete make“, we are confident that many schools that currently doubt the value of these NIL rule changes to their student-athletes would change how they feel about it.

Besides the fact that a strong personal brand provides a lot of benefits to your student-athletes’ professional careers, all student-athletes, regardless of their social media following, can monetize their brand and/or at least receive some free products/services. While they may not make $100k from a national brand endorsement deal, they can make $2k from a deal with a regional retailer, $3k from running a local camp/clinic, or $100 a month from sending out personalized Cameos. 

While social media & endorsement deals dominate the NIL conversation, it’s important to keep in mind that there are endless opportunities for your student-athletes to actually make money under these new rules and regulations. 

But in case this argument isn’t convincing enough, how about some data about social media then.

Have you ever heard of micro or nano influencers? Essentially, they are users on social media between 1,000-10,000 followers – a range that the vast majority of your athletes fall into. Did you know that roughly 90% of all influencer marketing deals actually happen with micro-influencers? Also curious to hear why? Well, because brands care about authenticity, engagement, and relatability. And micro-influencers often have the highest engagement rates with a loyal and engaged audience and appear more relatable to their audience. In addition to that, athletes outperform traditional influencers in pretty much every category, making them even more appealing to brands.

So, even if you don’t believe that there are a ton of opportunities for student-athletes outside of social media and brand endorsements, at least consider those facts.

Source: Opendorse

Why Athletic Departments Have to Help

Now, all of this inevitably brings up another point – why should athletic departments care about helping their student-athletes do such things?

The answer to that is two-fold.

First, because they will fall behind in the competitive recruiting game if they don’t, and second because they run the risk of dramatically hurting their brand.

Whatever your thoughts are on the new legislation, it’ll happen, and student-athletes all over the country will want to build, grow, and monetize their brand. While it’ll vary what kinds of brands student-athletes want to and should be building, one thing is for certain – they all want a piece of the pie.

Athletic departments that won’t provide education, resources, or tools that make it easier for student-athletes to maximize the value of their NIL, will run the risk of their student-athletes doing something that’s not permissible or violates any of the new guidelines set forth.

Since the brands of your student-athletes define the brand of your institution, the result of a violation may go far beyond an athlete’s eligibility. 

As a result, it’s instrumental for athletic departments to at least educate and guide their student-athletes through this new era. And if you want to save your student-athletes time and headaches, assist them with their brand development and monetization as well. 

Learn more about our program, FanWord BrandUp, and how our tailored and hands-on approach will benefit all of your student-athletes.

You can also shoot us an email at if you want to get in touch. 

Interested in learning more?



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