Sport PR Specialist Shares Tips for Athletes to Effectively Use Social Media

Sport PR Specialist, Marisa Calvert, shares top tips for athletes to effectively use their social media platforms to authentically build their brand. Photo: Supplied

Athletes around the globe are gradually finding ways to effectively use their social media platforms to build their brand.

Social media is currently the most direct contact athletes have to not only allow them to reach their audience (including their fans), but also boost brand awareness to attract potential sponsorships.

2019 Momentum gsport Awards Woman in PR and Sponsorship winner, Marisa Calvert, believes that every athlete should be guided as to how they can take building their brand into their own hands.

She shares 10 effective and positive ways to succeed in the social media space:

1. It is very important for an athlete to have a strong social media presence that shows off the brands they represent as well as give their followers a sneak peek into their lives. But athletes should be wary of not falling into the trap the internet brings where they post “just because”, therefore having a solid content plan/calendar, will do them wonders. Remember, as an athlete, you need to be professional, warm and engaging across all your social media sites, including your personal ones, to ensure your brand is maintained.

2. Whether you have 10 followers or 10 000 followers, take 20-30 minutes out of your day to engage with your following. Social media interactions are the most direct contact you can have with your fan base apart from talking face-to-face. If you want to get to know your fans or vice versa, try hosting a Twitter Space or Instagram Live Q&A with a personalised hashtag, doing a five-minute follow spree, reposting and replying to comments or asking open-ended questions on your Instagram story or Twitter. It is a satisfying experience for the fans to see that they’ve gotten your follow or response and to know that their post was bold enough to catch your eye.

3. Go for media training! I cannot stress this enough. The media training will help give comments in a positive manner, even when a journalist tries to corner you. Learning what to say and how to say it is essential for all athletes. Dealing with the media is now part and parcel of being an athlete, and that’s why media training is essential.

4. This one is specifically for student-athletes. Maintain your grades and brag about it. Brands and media love a feel-good story so if you’re putting in the hours to play semi-professionally as well as keep up the good grades, they will sit up and notice you. This makes your brand equitable and positive and brands love to be associated with that.

5. Find your USP (that’s your Unique Selling Point). In other words, find what makes you different from the other goal shooter, or goal defender, or wing or striker. I like to do an annual check-in with myself where I realign my focus and my goals. Each year, we work on a strategy for the company with a road map and attainable goals, and I asked myself “why are we not doing it for ourselves?” This applies to athletes too – check in with yourself regularly and make sure you’re on the path to success. Ask yourself if you’re “selling” your USP, are you living your truth, and are you focused on the goals you have set?

6. Seek attention authentically by creating great content because where attention goes, money follows, and content is queen. Any type of athlete marketing and branding, whether done by you or someone else, is impossible without great content.

7. Network, especially as a student-athlete. The alumni will be more inclined to help you because they relate personally to your experiences throughout varsity. The connections of people within the university sports space allows student-athletes to have a network of people they can reach out to when they are looking for a job or opportunity.

8. Tell your own story. The more you know about a person, the more you can connect with them, and the more you tend to like them. So tell your fans and followers your story from your own perspective. Your story is the most powerful and it’s unique to you. Aside from athletic ability and accomplishments, connection and likeability are the most effective selling points for your brand.

9. Be open to collaborate with brands who offer trade exchanges, especially if the brand aligns with your values. And, when negotiating these trade exchanges, ask yourself what is in it for you in terms of marketing and PR. Also, be present when you negotiate the contract. Don’t allow the brand to push you into a corner where you have to turn future money down. Once you have agreed with the terms, and both parties are happy, give the brand as much love as you would give a paying brand. Athletes who have gone down this route as student-athletes, have reaped the rewards a year or so later and are now part of the payroll of these brands.

10. Do charity work, even if it’s just putting your face on the posters to endorse a charity. Not only does it show your young fans the importance of giving back, but it shows that you are a brand that cares because you show up and do the work. However, don’t do it if it’s purely for self-interested reasons. The truth eventually shows itself and it’s very damaging for your brand.

In conclusion, the athletes who take a scientific, strategic and systematic approach to standing out, staying relevant and building value in the minds of their current and potential fans, will position themselves to maximise their brand equity and this will result in a more profitable and dynamic athlete brand.


Photo 1 Caption: Sport PR Specialist, Marisa Calvert, shares top tips for athletes to effectively use their social media platforms to authentically build their brand. Photo: Supplied

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About the Author:

Selina Munsamy

Selina Munsamy

I am a sports enthusiast. I am newly appointed KZN Women's Cricket Manager for the 2019/2020 season. My passion lies in cricket, technically I live and breathe cricket. I am a Scorer affiliated to KZN Cricket Scorer's Association. I also coach mini cricket for Tongaat Cricket Union. Live, Laugh and Love with Sport.

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