An Athlete's Guide to Social Media
By John Gutierrez
In 2017 it is important that athletes, especially professional athletes, are aware of their internet footprint. While an athlete's skills can be enough to bring them to play on professional teams, they must also be careful, especially while establishing themselves, to not post content that can shake away potential marketing deals. Schools, teams and businesses are becoming more aware of possible controversies that individual athletes can bring to an organization. What one posts online can cause sponsorships, endorsements, and team contracts, to be dissolved. To have a successful social media presence online, there are a few guidelines that athletes should abide by.
Athlete’s, especially the ones with multi million dollar contracts, can easily post photos of them on stage at a concert - i.e. Meta World Peace after winning the 2010 championship against the Celtics - however, many have not established persona such as the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest. One NFL player who does social media well is Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks. Just tailing Reggie Bush for an NFL player with the most followers on Facebook and Twitter, Russell Wilson keeps a steady stream of content to engage his fans.
Posts on Russell Wilson’s social media accounts range from photos with his wife, Ciara, to him at various events/fundraisers with fans, teammates, and even political figures. For example, Wilson visits the Seattle Children’s Hospital to be with kids who are patients at the hospital. What makes this type of content exceptional is that it brings an athlete away from commercialization and towards normalcy by illustrating the compassion that each person holds within their self.
An over abundance of promotional materials on any social media has a possibility of alienating viewers on social media pages. When Russell Wilson incorporates his corporate sponsorships, such as Braun electric shavers, into his daily routine, associations between Wilson, Braun, and fans who have or desire to be clean shaven. This eases people into the idea of purchasing a product instead of a blatant commercial that may not even connect with a majority of his fans.
It’s Not All Sports
Back in the day, it used to take some digging, a feature or an interview on an athlete to find out what passions and hobbies were when they weren't playing. Now, if an athlete wants to share their other talents with the world all they have to do is put it on social media. Some notable athletes with passionate pursuits outside of sports include
Premier League Goal Keeper Petr Cech’s drum playing, Tennis Player Serena Williams’ painting, Basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire’s art collecting and writing, and current TNT personality Shaquille O’nell’s acting, dancing, rapping - naming just a few of the Big ’N Talented’s hobbies. Sharing these abilities despite spending many hours of athletic training shows that with varied time constraints everyone has no one is too busy to not cultivate skills and talents.
Communicate Your Culture
Athletes today now have social media to share education of their heritage and other cultural identities with their audiences. Last month, many black athletes shared historical photographs and tidbits of famous black heroes. Even companies such as Nike created the Equality campaign for Black History Month. Ethnic roots are not the only form of culture that there is. Religion, often deemed a topic to stay away from is now being seen on the social media pages of athletes. Tim Tebow and LW Branding’s own Dragan Bender share their faith with their fans. Athletes are also part of many micro-cultures, often times permeating into pop-culture, that have their own modes of recognition, styles of dress, and even language. These micro-cultures can range from Shoe Collecting with sneakerheads, like former NBA player Gilbert Arenas, to wine connoisseurs, like former professional race car driver Mario Andretti.
However, It’s Still Sports
When it boils down to posting, a professional athlete can never go wrong with posting their team and individual successes. Family, in addition to working, is often a priority. When sacrificing time to watch an entire game is not an option, social media posts can help fans stay up to date with their favorite teams and athletes. Ultimately, fans stay connected with their favorite athletes on social media because they are supportive of their careers, and it’s also great for fans to see their favorites winning.