Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How Athletes Are Using Social Media To Market Themselves

NFL Draft Day is almost here. Thursday, May 8th at 8pm is the starting point, and as a football fan with a team in my city to cheer for this excites me a great deal.

Draft Day also excites me as a marketer. I'm eager to see which players do the best job of marketing themselves, and attract sponsorship to make money above and beyond their playing salary. Additionally, some of these athletes will use their celebrity to make a positive impact on their community and beyond with volunteer work, and setting up their own foundations. This helps get these millions where they're needed, and requires a good bit of marketing to make happen. Plus, we'll (hopefully) see some great ad campaigns and clever digital marketing efforts from brands who want to leverage their latest spokesperson to increase sales.

We're used to seeing professional athletes signing multi-figure endorsement deals with major brands once they turn pro...and then showing up everywhere you can think of to run an ad. But, what about those athletes that take it upon themselves to market themselves as a brand?

Baseball player +Brandon Phillips is one who instantly comes to mind for me (hey, I'm a +Cincinnati Reds fan). He is active on social media (especially Twitter), and uses it as a way to connect with fans (he once showed up at a fan's little league game after they tweeted him the location). This gives people a deeper connection not only to him, but the team as well. The Reds should appreciate this the same as an employee at any company masking themselves visible on social as a n extension of the brand. It's helpful.

Some amateurs soon turning (or hoping to turn) pro are getting in the game early, and will possibly make a positive impact on their career as a result. During this week's Draft Day for the +NFL, we will have the opportunity to Hangout with several of the projected top picks, asking them questions about their experience in the draft and getting to know them a bit through this #MyDraftDay effort. See below:

You can see the full lineup of available Hangouts in this post from +Sunny Cadwallader. I'll definitely be following along, and hopefully talking personally to a few new NFL players.

Going a step further down in the food chain, high school athlete Gary Haynes has been getting attention the last few days (including on +ESPN's +SportsCenter) for this Vine video of him throwing the himself.
Do you know of any other athletes doing social media well? Let me know in the comments. I'd like to make this post just a jump off point to a longer post full of great examples. I'll give full credit for any submissions.