It is very important for athletes to be active and communicate on social networks because they are sometimes more powerful as brands then the clubs they play for. Nowadays, athletes sign better contracts because of their activity on social networks. They also attract sponsors because any message they communicate for a brand is much more powerful when published on their personal (official) social network page.
15 soccer players that made the top 100 highest-paid athletes list have a combined total of 636 million followers, led by Ronaldo, Neymar, Messi, James Rodriguez and Mesut Ozil. The other 85 athletes in the top 100 have a combined following of 442 million fans
LeBron James, with his 54 million followers, is the only athlete preventing soccer players from sweeping the top of the list. Other NBA stars with a heavy social media presence include Kobe Bryant (30 million followers), Kevin Durant (25 million) and Dwyane Wade (20 million).
These are the 5 reasons why players MUST be online, and why agencies that take care of their players should make sure that happens. When I talk with athletes, they tell me they don’t have time, or they are shy. Why? With social media you can take control of your privacy!
1. Take control of your privacy
Athletes care about privacy, and when they have a social media account, they control information. They can publish what they want, tell interesting stories or communicate with fans. There are also many fake accounts around the world, and sometimes these fake accounts take athlete’s private photos from Instagram and put them on fake pages. When this happens, fake accounts look like official pages, and fans ‘buy it’. And if the same thing happens with journalists, athlete has a problem.
Players can use social media for PR as well. Ronaldo showed how social media can be used in situations like the one in the example below. Ronaldo has more fans on social media than CNN and New York Times together!
EXAMPLE: The Sun published an interview with Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo on Thursday, titled ‘Ronaldo: Every goal is dedicated to my dad’. They put more personal quotes: ‘My dad would want me to play, he always did everything in life for me to play football. When I win something, I always think about him. I know he’s around. He’s always looking at me and out for me. He sends me messages in my dreams because what I am today is thanks to him and to my mother.’ The interview takes a look into Cristiano’s personal life. But Ronaldo used Twitter and Facebook that evening to state that he did not have an interview with The Sun and that it was all “pure fiction”.
Today, the Sun published an interview with me that I never gave. So its content is pure fiction. — Cristiano Ronaldo (@Cristiano) May 29, 2014
2. Social media can be used for financial gain
After their careers, athletes still have followers who love them. They will be interested in buying something from them or “about” them, i.e. their biography or clothes they sell. That will give an athlete additional income even after their professional career.
Ronaldo has significant revenue from social media. His post on Facebook is worth, on average, $143,750 for the brand he is endorsing, twice of what Messi’s, the four-time player of the year, posts are worth. Cristiano Ronaldo’s social media team tries to make a balance between his own and commercial posts.
According to the latest research from Opendorse, Ronaldo makes $260,000 every time he posts a sponsored tweet to his 37.7 million followers. On the other side, Adidas is putting pressure on Messi because he doesn’t have Twitter. Messi’s presence on Twitter is important for Adidas, as well as his other sponsors.
They made an interesting teaser almost a month ago, named: “Unfollow”, and many professionals think that he will soon be on Twitter as well.
EXAMPLE: Nike didn’t miss out on a chance to put a swoosh on the cover photo and to promote football boots on his profile photo. What do you think, how much does it cost? The Portuguese’s Facebook post is worth, on average, $143,750 of advertising for the brand he’s endorsing, twice the amount in comparison to four-time player of the year Messi, according to research by Cologne, a Germany-based consultancy Repucom that uses fan engagement and online advertising rates. Facebook posts by Messi are worth an average of $62,500, Repucom said. (Source: FORBES)
3. Audience that listens to every word
If an athlete says to their fans that they must buy Nike shoes, or do something for him, they would probably do it. Ok, not 90% of them, but only 1% of fans is enough to put a smile on his sponsors faces.
They must know that people who follow them also like them and their opinion is crucial to them. And that’s why it’s important to be active on social media.
EXAMPLE: Dejan Lovren’s business strategy is based on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), and he uses famous football players for promotion. His initial announcement about Russel Brown (his clothing brand) was from his Facebook page that has more than 300.000 fans. This announcement had a huge impact on the brand, because his fans wanted to know more about it, and buy something that their hero is wearing. He is very successful at this, and he is a great example of social media importance.
4. Better transfer chances
At a SPORTO Conference in November, Adidas marketing boss Thomas van Schaik said that strategic and well-organised social media presence opens doors for better transfer chances and sponsorships.
If clubs or sponsors choose between two players who are of similar playing characteristics, but one of them has more followers on social media, they will choose him. Even if the player without social media plays better, the player with organised and professional social media has an advantage!
EXAMPLE: During the last transfer window, you could see that players with social media presence have better transfers and wages. For example, Pedro announced that he is a Chelsea player on Twitter, and after that, Chelsea and Barcelona have done the same.
Very happy, I’m already Blue! Thank U all and specially @FCBarcelona for make possible to reach this point @ChelseaFC pic.twitter.com/fgERbDXLcJ
— Pedro Rodríguez (@_Pedro17_) August 20, 2015
5. After your pro career – your opinion will matter
With big fan base on social media, you have power in your hands after your professional playing career. If you start your own business, this is a huge customer base that you can count on. If you need a job, this is ‘difference’ between you and anyone else (Henry example down). Also, you can always sell your Facebook posts to brands.
EXAMPLE: Thierry Henry is a great example of good use of social media after playing career. He has more than 9 million fans on his official Facebook page, and this was more than enough for him to become the Sky sports commentator. He brought Sky Sports more reach on social media then any other commentator, and because of this, he has signed a great contract even after playing career.
If you are an athlete who needs consulting, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.