Social media has given fans close up access to their favorite athletes for many years now. It is quite commonplace to know many aspects of stars’ lives without ever seeing them in real life or even being on the same continent as them. This is the globally connected world we live in in 2020.
As elite athletes all over the world are trying to gain status and recognition on the junior, amateur, and professional level, their personal branding is vital. A clean, thoughtful brand that is well displayed on multiple platforms can build your fan base rapidly and effectively. Although there are many strategies to do this, we have compiled a list of 10 tips to creating a strong social media presence for student-athletes. If you are an athlete trying to build a brand start here!
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Before downloading every app on your phone and jumping in head first, let’s slow down and think. How do you see yourself? What is important to you? What makes you the elite athlete you are? Some of these questions need to be answered as you are starting to build a brand. Your brand is your way of describing to your fan base what you stand for and why you get up every day and work hard to become the best. Sometimes a good guide to personal branding is to start with values. What values do you hold fast to? Is it your kindness? Faith? Hard work? Heritage? Teamwork? Narrowing down a few key words that describe your brand can help you define who you are to your fan base.
The next step is trying to make goals or outcomes for your social media. These can be quantitative (i.e. grow to 5,000 followers on Instagram over the next three months, post at least three times a day on Twitter, etc.) or qualitative (i.e. build influence in the esports community, bring in more endorsement deals, etc.) Having one or multiple goals in mind helps you focus on the bigger picture. There is a big difference between occasionally posting on social media and leveraging your social media accounts to grow the brand you want to identify with.
‘Quality over quantity is a good motto to live by for a lot of areas in life. Social media as well. You don’t have to be on every single social media platform and you also don’t have to share every single thought. Posting quality content connects you with your audience far more than senseless tweets.
Just like your sport, great things take time and practice. Increasing your social media media presence is no different. There is no surefire way to engage, keep, and grow an audience. This is because your audience is specific to you, your sport, and your interests. However, in order to be the best, you must learn from the best. Follow some of the more engaged top athletes on each platform from a few different sports. This way you have a pool of information you can be inspired from on a daily basis.
One of the best ways to grow your social following is to engage with your audience. Respond to comments, interact with your fans’ feeds, etc. builds a close relationship with your fans. Besides, platforms like Instagram actually reward such activity, causing your profile to be seen by more people.
Your audience follows you for a variety of reasons. Likely because they know you personally, are a fan, or have shared interests. If you want to grow your brand on social media, it’s important to understand why your audience follows you and what kind of content they like to see. Do they enjoy glimpses into your personal life, behind-the-scenes content from softball practice, interview with your teammates, training or diet tips, etc.? Whatever it is, understand why people follow you and you’ll grow your social media.
No matter how developed you are as an athlete, you are human. Surprisingly your audience is too. It is very important in building your brand to make sure your fan base can connect to you on a personal level. This can be through relatable content or even more interactive rich media such as live videos or Q & A sessions.
One of the biggest mistakes that athletes make is only updating their social media accounts at big events. This may come as a surprise to many athletes who try to keep their accounts chock full of big news and big games/wins. However, following this strategy alone can leave your account stagnant for weeks, causing you to be forgotten by your audience, and punished by social media algorithms. The community you build wants to see what you are up to on a daily or weekly basis. They call it a social media presence, not a past, stay up to date!
There is a definite balance between your athletic life and your private life. You will have to find the balance that fits your lifestyle and your brand. Your following wants to see parts of your life that don’t involve your sport. What are your hobbies? Who are your friends? Where do you call home? Answers to these can build your network and allow you to come across more genuine to your social media community.
Time to get rid of your usernames from middle school! Yes, really. Time to optimize your social media by having a straight forward username, succinct bio, and well presented content. Fans and users alike scroll through an overwhelming amount of content. In this era, accounts looking for exposure don’t have time to be vague or confusing. A simple, straight forward profile is the strong foundation to a successful personal brand.
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