How can athletes use social media effectively?

How can athletes use social media effectively?

By Anna Kyprianou, APC Sports Consulting Limited

“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media; the question is how well we DO it.” – Eric Qualman

Advancements in technology have brought a completely new world of possibilities. Our society has enjoyed tremendous benefits from the technological development of social media and other types of electronic communication. Of course, the sports industry could not be out of this new era of opportunities. Athletes can grow their market value through social media and they can also raise awareness about several social issues. Using social media effectively can be beneficial for them and to the people around them.

Athletes need to recognize that social media have to be treated as businesses. At the end of the day it is their personal image and their financial future on the spot. From a financial perspective, it is hard to argue against social media as an investment. When deciding to use social media as a tool for financial and personal growth, athletes should engage the services of trustful experts in the relevant industry. It would be ideal to hire a social media manager and create a team of experts to provide guidance to the athlete. However, this is something that may be avoided since athletes are trained and developed through sports in such a way that gives them the tools to cope with social media themselves.

A very important step an athlete has to take is to identify his/her goals and set up a social media strategy. The best strategy anyone can create is the one that articulates a clear and unique image identity using a mix of multimedia content to tell a cohesive story. The characteristics needed to create your own personal social media strategy are already embedded within the character of an athlete; and these are devotion, engagement, focus, strong work ethic, critical thinking, resiliency, time management and accountability. 

Part of social media strategy is the creation of a social media policy, which should function as a roadmap guiding athletes to achieve their ultimate goal. The social media policy should deal with the benefits, the risk and the responsibility that come with using social media and should be in line with the daily exposure of the athlete through social media.  Athletes need to be prepared and acknowledge that they cannot expect privacy when it comes to social media exposure.

Athletes should also recognize that one of the main aspects of social media success is fan engagement. The main idea is that to grow your audience you have to focus on your audience and not on yourself. For an athlete, to focus on his/her audience means to spend time, energy and put extra effort without asking for anything in return. It might seem too much on the outset but the truth is that athletes are in a better position than anyone else when it comes to fan engagement; they are already recognizable and have people who follow their lives and they can influence them without putting much effort.

Even so, to engage with the fans you would like to, first, you need to prioritize the right social platform for your audience. The right media platform for each athlete depends on the audience you want to reach and the message you want to relate to the fans. Thus, it is advisable that athletes develop a multichannel approach and make sure that each platform is used in unique ways to keep users interested in their content.

To encourage members to engage with the content in meaningful ways, athletes can have a social media monitor who is ready to react to user comments at a moment’s notice. The faster the reaction to the comments, the more likely it is that other users will engage with the content as well. A social media monitor can be a member of the team of experts who maintain the athletes’ image or ideally it could be the athlete himself/herself.  A real life example is the work of one social media manager at Wendy’s. Her work earned national media attention as a result of immediate, clever and on-brand retorts that confronted internet trolls.

An important method to engage the audience is to publish the content on a regular basis and methodically. The most organized and successful way to do it is by using a social media calendar. A tool like that can help an athlete schedule his/her posts in advance so as to publish relevant content within regular time intervals.

Undoubtedly, Social media is an important tool for any athlete who wishes to develop his/her brand and monetize on it. Social media are changing on a daily basis and to be able to make the best of it, an athlete needs to be on track with updates and new tools which probably lead to new ways of engaging with fans.

For more information on how to effectively use social media for the development of your brand, you may contact us via email at info@apc-sport.com

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