Undoubtedly one area that has grown massively in importance when it comes to gaining athlete sponsorship, is social media. Free tools that everyone can access and that link the athlete, brand and audience in a quick and simple manner, social media is one of the main topics of conversation when speaking to industry contacts about athlete sponsorship.
Businesses realise emerging athletes have a limit to the marketing channels they can provide, however a large social media following is something that can set you apart in the pile of sponsorship requests.
Before we discuss how to build a killer following, keep in mind that size isn’t everything when it comes to social media!
There are lots of accounts out there with large followings but savvy brand managers don’t just look at the total number, they will delve a little deeper and place as much, if not more value on areas such as engagement.
10k follower list and 10-15% post engagement, than someone with 50k followers and only 1-2% engagement which is pretty common with so-called “social influencers” these days.
If your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account is going to be something you put forward as a value add to a sponsor, make sure you are using it with that in mind. Keep the account genuine to you as a person, but keep it suitable for your sponsor to associate with at the same time.
When posting about your training, competition performance and athlete life, make sure you are tagging your sponsors in the pictures, writing suitable comments and not accidentally pushing competitor brands.
Be prepared to commit time and effort to your social accounts, have a plan for how to grow your follower base but equally plan for how you will present yourself and how you can integrate partners into your feed.
Your account shouldn’t be a billboard for your sponsor as that’s not genuine to you or interesting to people who follow you, so think about how you can give them a suitable number of plugs whilst still being true to yourself.
So, how do you build a big Social Media following
To help with this question, I’ve spoken to two great young Australian athletes that I’ve worked with, both social media heavy hitters: Australian BMX rider, Brandon Loupos and Australian Olympic Diver, Melissa Wu, who between them have over 125,000 Instagram followers.
Here are both of Brandon and Melissa’s top five tips for building your social following.
Melissa Wu’s top 5 tips!
- Post regularly. This is the number one way to build your profile. Post often about your training, upcoming events/tournaments/competitions and update your followers on your performances.
- Post high quality content. It doesn’t matter how often you post if your image or video quality is really poor. Avoid posting blurry content or anything that is too dark and hard to see.
- Engage with other people. The more you engage with your followers and respond to comments on your posts, the more you will be able to generate interest from new people and build your profile.
- Connect with new people. Like and comment on other people’s posts. Try to expand from just people you know or people in your sport and start engaging with athletes from other sports and people in other areas that interest you (such as your area of study or people who share similar hobbies).
- Avoid inappropriate behaviour. It’s important to behave in a professional manner when building your athlete profile. Avoid using swear words, posting rude content and engaging in inappropriate activities with other people.
Brandon Loupos top 5 tips!
- Be positive! Most people don’t like negativity so be positive in your posts but not to the point where it looks corny, then you’ll just look fake and that won’t be good.
- Put effort into your posts. For a lot of people, taking half-hearted photos for the sake of doing a post won’t grow your following or do you any favours. Find out what your audience likes most and give the people what they want!
- Quality is key. The higher the quality the better the post will be. Professionally taken photos are great but the iPhone portrait mode does a good job too. As long as the picture is taken properly and it’s clear, that’s key. Also, same with video, I found from my own experiences that iPhone clips get more likes than clips from a camera. The reason for that in my opinion is that iPhone clips are more relatable because not everyone has a video camera, but hey, that’s just me.
- Captions are a make or break. Captions are more important than you think. They may not look like an important thing but trust me, the caption is just as important as the picture. Ask yourself just before you post, if you were not you but someone who follows you, would you like the post? If you would then post, if it doesn’t sound like you then re-type.
- Be as active and interesting as possible. It’s important to be frequent with posts, being active is extremely helpful to grow yourself on social media but there is such a thing as too much. I’d say if you posted every couple of days that’s awesome. Try and aim for at least 5 posts per week, but if you’re travelling around you could post daily as people seem to find travelling interesting, especially if its travel for your sport.
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