Athletes are engaging in social media at a record pace. While leagues like the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association are taking steps to monitor use of social media by athletes, there are no rules, policies or otherwise prohibiting such activity. Like A-List Hollywood celebrities, athletes feel empowered to share or express personal feelings and often times don’t think about how it will dilute their brand. Here are five rules of engagement athletes can use to build their brand through social media.
- Be a “cause” Champion: Advocate for a cause that’s close to your heart either through personal experience or something close to your situation. Pro football Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden spent his entire playing career with the Baltimore Ravens, but his passion is the Jonathan Ogden Foundation established in 1996 to help youth gain self confidence through education and athletics. Ogden is effectively spreading his message using twitter as the primary social media platform to champion his cause.
- If you need to think about it, it’s not a good idea: Mama always said if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (and she was right!) Also, if you need to think about whether or not a tweet may be appropriate, IT’S NOT! These age old lessons hold true in the world of social media too! One mistake or misguided tweet by an athlete can completely destroy what they’ve spent years working to create.
- Be content conscious: Have a content plan that is current, relevant and action driven. Meaningless tweets are a turn off to fans and make it more difficult to maintain an effective following. Those who make best use of twitter call followers to action and create synergy among their overall digital profile. A good example may be…”It’s game day, stop by my website wxyz.com to catch my interview live from the locker room at 11 am.” This call to action influences fans to stay within your digital brand web and provides a teaser for exciting content.
- Post positively: Nobody likes negativity…stay positive in your post. Followers and fans look forward to reading tweets or Facebook posts that are helpful, informative and inspirational in nature. Constant negative posts will characterize your brand and ultimately define your brand attitude.
- Don’t dilute the brand: NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson once said, “As long as your brand is strong, you’ll always be able to make money.” Athletes must be brand conscious at all times. Be careful of the pictures you post, what you say and who of course you say it to. Simply put…don’t do anything to dilute the brand.As athletes strive to understand brand value, many search for effective ways to build and promote that brand through social media. Developing an action oriented plan for twitter and Facebook will keep athletes focused and out of harm’s way when it comes to brand integrity.
Ed Jenkins is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based social media strategist and managing partner of Confab Marketing & Design, a boutique style marketing agency focusing on brand building for small to mid-sized businesses and individuals. After attending Johnson & Wales University (Providence, RI) where he studied marketing and advertising, Jenkins went to work in the advertising sales industry. Jenkins has spend the past decade in marketing working with for profit education institutions and non-profits including the United Way of Southeastern New England and NEED, a Pittsburgh based educational non-profit. Jenkins also has an extensive background in sports management and administration having served as a general manager with sports franchises including the Roanoke Steam (Roanoke, VA) of the Arena Football League.