By Lazaros Ioannou, APC Sports Consulting Limited
It was less than a week ago that a news headline from the news website Business Insider caught my attention; ‘’Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly makes more money being an influencer on Instagram than he does playing soccer for Juventus’’. According to the article, Cristiano makes the exorbitant amount of $47.8 million per year from paid Instagram posts, while his salary from Juventus is at $34 million per year.
Cristiano, who is actually the most followed human on Instagram, is not the only athlete who makes millions from his paid posts on Social Media. Footballers Messi and Neymar are included in the top twenty most followed Instagram accounts, ahead of music and entertainment idols such as Jenifer Lopez or Ellen DeGeneres. Basketball legend Lebron James is on spot 38 of the list and, most notable is the fact that even former footballers David Beckham and Ronaldinho are included in the top 50.
For an athlete to be able to generate income through social media, it is first necessary to built his/her brand. An athlete’s brand can be built in such a way that the athlete can be transformed into a global signature brand, which can be leveraged to sell, endorsed and make a profit. Athletes can build and capitalize on their brand by creating proper personal marketing strategies, with well-defined branding activities which are in line with their financial life plan. Strategic building of the athlete’s personal brand is crucial because it must be clear which values he or she brings to the marketplace in order to stand out from the rest of the athletes.
Social Media Platforms (FB, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) should be a part of the athlete’s brand building strategy. The aim of the athlete should be to create a well-crafted brand strategy which will transform them from sports related VIPs, to business related VIPs with a life time duration.
In practise, the following actions can be used by athletes to generate additional income from social media:
1) Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is different than a sponsorship, in that it’s up to the athlete to make sales through their influence in order to profit. Athletes don’t simply get paid for their marketing efforts. As an affiliate, the athlete simply posts a picture of themselves using the product; a video of them talking about or using the product could also be included. The key here is the athlete’s credibility which helps to promote and sell the product to his or her fan-base.
2) Podcasts: Podcasts are the new radio. Today, it’s easier more than ever for a professional athlete to start a podcast, and more importantly generate revenue from one.
3) Promoting Products & Merchandise: Social Media is the easiest way to promote someone’s products and merchandise. And why not, if the athlete has what it takes, maybe one day he/she will be able to create their own brand products to promote.
4) Sponsorships: This is the classic form of generating revenue for athletes – wearing or using someone else’s product and posting relevant pictures on social media.
6) Live video: Being able to watch and interact with professional athletes live is a different beast. Fans no longer have to rely on going to crowded games or sporting events to interact with their favorite players. The important thing about live video, is the traffic it drives to the athletes Instagram or Facebook page. They don’t actually make money purely off recording a live video, instead they can use the live video to promote sponsors or affiliates, as well as interact with fans in order to increase the number of their followers.
The image of sports celebrities has become a tradable commodity nowadays. Money Smart Athletes utilize their image strategically while still in the limelight and turn it into a long-term brand that withstands the test of time. Social Media offer an easy platform for athletes to commercially exploit their brand in order to generate additional income, which preferably will continue to create income streams long after their retirement from sports. For more information on the use of social media as a means of facilitating the commercial exploitation of your brand, you may contact us via email at [email protected]