If you’re an athlete or sportsperson looking to compete at the highest level, sponsorship is a key part of financing any campaign.
Historically, sponsors look for an athlete at the top of their sport, someone who attracts maximum media coverage, and one that will generate the largest perceived return on investment.
In recent years this model has evolved with the result that brands are becoming content creators and storytellers. This is a result of a change in consumer behavior. Consumers are more engaged by stories as they resonate with consumers for much longer, and enhance their overall brand experience.
Having a social media presence allows you to share your story with your fans. For them it’s a means of keeping up to date with your progress, training and results. For you it’s an opportunity to tell your story as it happens. The main reason people will follow you is because they get access to unadulterated content, directly from you.
Journalists are also turning to social media as a means of sourcing quotes and creating ideas for new stories. This is a great opportunity for extra exposure for an athlete and their chosen sport. A knock on effect of increased media exposure is that you’re more likely to be noticed by potential sponsors. Simply put, if you're receiving media coverage, your potential value to a brand will be higher.
Sponsors are becoming storytellers because its what consumers are responding to. They are looking to align with sports people that share common values in order to share their story. Compare Pepsi’s ‘#FutbolNow’ ad, with (Coca-Cola owned) Powerade’s ‘Nico Calabria’s Story of Defying Expectations’, and ask yourself which ones is more compelling? Which one is more likely to etch itself into your memory?
When a brand or agency is looking for new talent, social media acts as an auditioning ground for assessing an athlete’s value to them. It also allows a brand to check that an athlete’s story is both compelling and relevant to the brand’s objectives.
Social media is a cost effective means of telling your story. It allows you to communicate with a wide-ranging audience and offers a platform for presenting yourself to prospective sponsors.
Where should you be? Why should you be there?
Twitter is a great place to be because posts can be prepared quickly and It’s the quickest way to spread news. People are using it to connect with like-minded fans, many of which are dual screening during sporting events.
Facebook is important because it’s a cost effective alternative to investing in your own website. It’s an ideal place to centralize content relevant to you, and offers another great opportunity for fans to hear your story directly from you.
Instagram is a place to share parts of your life visually. Not only do fans get to see what your up to, but sponsors can see if you're using their products already, and they can understand how your personal brand might align with their objectives.
While you can upload videos directly to Facebook, It’s a much better idea to use Youtube, and share the links across your social channels. If somebody searches for you on Google, only Youtube videos will show in the results. Youtube also offers detailed insights on your audience, and the more you understand about your audience the easier it is to connect with them in a meaningful way.
Vine is also a great alternative for video content. A maximum length of 6 seconds forces you to be creative, and vines are quickly consumed, and easily shared.
LinkedIn is interesting because it puts you in a business-to-business conversation with potential sponsors. Use it to list your achievements, goals, and get in contact with prospective sponsors.
Also, Its important to fully complete your profiles. Your Twitter biography is a short statement as to why people should follow you. The about section on your Facebook profile has a similar role, and is a great place to list your other social channels, and means of contacting you.
How do you develop your social media presence?
So how do you develop your social media presence, and decide what’s relevant to your audience? Building a personal brand is about identifying what you love, what drives you, and expressing that in a compelling way.
- Be You
The most important rule to follow when on social media is to always be honest, speak from your perspective, and use your own tone of voice. People will choose to follow you because they admire what you stand for and like what you do. The most successful sports people on social media are doing well because they share a part of their lives that can’t be found on sports sites in an honest, (almost) unfiltered way. This also helps brands to identify you as someone who fits their brand ethos.
- Be Active
It’s imperative that you’re active online. A key thing to remember is that social is a two-way conversation. Not only should you converse with followers, but you also have the opportunity to connect with peers, sporting idols, and the media. If you find something in your feed you agree with consider re-tweeting it, or if you enjoy reading a story/article consider sharing it. Hashtags # are also a good way of stretching your exposure on social media. Start conversations, or join them, but be involved.
- Be Consistent
Post regularly, the lifetime of posts are very short, and ideally you should be posting something at least once a day. It’s also important that you only share content that will potentially be valuable to followers.
- Be Positive
Resist the urge to gripe about poor event organization, or speak negatively about fellow competitors, this is what your coach and support network are for. Nobody likes a complainer, and you’ll do your personal brand much harm. As I mentioned earlier sponsors regularly use social media as an auditioning ground for potential brand ambassadors, and its difficulty to see a brand wanting to align with an athlete who regularly mouths off.
- Quality Control
You are your own filter. If it’s not something you’d like your granny to see don’t post it. If your not sure, your coach or parents will always make a good springboard.
Photos receive nearly twice as much engagement as text only posts. But its important you don’t share poor quality/grainy photos. Also, a good test for a photo is to consider whether it tells part of the story you wish to express in a post.
Keep an eye on what type of post people are engaging with more regularly, and if it works consider doing it more often.
Developing your personal brand.
A little planning goes a long way. While your feed will contain regular competition updates during events it’s the time between those events, which allows the greatest opportunity for expressing your values. With that in mind you should take the time to write down what you stand for, what you believe in, and what your aspirations are. Being aware of your motivators will better equip you to post regularly on your social channels, and minimize time spent preparing posts.
- Questions to ask yourself.
1. What are your interests, past times, training routines and how could they be valuable to your followers?
Telling people what you had for dinner will never be interesting, but sharing the reasons behind a particular dietary choice will be valuable to those fans that follow you because they’re inspired by your commitment to training.
2. Which teammates/peers do you admire? What you admire about them? What do you think they would admire about you?
This relates to developing your personal brand, and uncovering your brand truths. Connecting these brand truths with your interests is what allows you to express your personal brand through social media.
3. What value would I offer a sponsor? Why would they be interested in sponsoring me?
Sponsors are looking for brand ambassadors with values relevant to their respective products. If you understand your personal brand, build a following because of it, and can express it through social media, potential sponsors can clearly see what you stand for, and why you might be valuable to them.
Who we like:
- Carden Kent for Atomic Sport
For further discussion contact: email@example.com