David Ancor is a Canadian Judoka who has spent the last few years managing the content marketing, sponsorship, and social media for MAKEACHAMP. Through this experience, he has acquired extensive knowledge about what a company is looking for in a sponsored athlete, and how to grow a community of followers on social media, which he is currently using to help fund his journey to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The purpose of this series of blogs is to get athletes to start thinking and acting like marketers. This first post is about getting inside the head of a marketing director in today's online marketing world. Following this, we'll be sharing direct steps that you can take to get your social media and content marketing running. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to work. This guide is here to save you time and get you the funds you need to achieve your athletic goals.
We are all aware that social media is powerful and if leveraged properly, athletes can win big! Unfortunately, not many athletes know how to leverage the opportunities available to them to create a stream of revenue for their athletics.
Regarding this subject, Steve Richards, the COO of Sportsnetworker.com, says: “What’s interesting today is that athletes who aren’t as famous as LeBron James can also make a name for themselves thanks to social media. There is no better example of this than Olympic diver Tom Daley. He takes his 2.6 million followers on Twitter and makes them aware of his site, TomDaley.tv. Here he is showcasing his journey to Rio in 2016 through regular videos on his YouTube channel."
He continues, “...not all Olympic athletes are Michael Phelps – it is difficult to make money, keep a following and most importantly keep sponsors during the 3 years and 50 weeks the Olympics aren’t happening. No one is doing this better with social media than Daley.”
In fact, many are aware that these tools can be incredibly powerful but they don’t know how to leverage them properly. We’ll get to this later, but we should get some basic definitions out of the way.
Some important definitions
Unfortunately, many people misuse the terms social media and content marketing. The result is that you get more confused than necessary in a field that is already ambiguous. So let’s get on the same page with some basic terminology.
First, “social media” is defined as : "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content."
Next, a definition of “content marketing” that I like is : “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In other words, social media refers to the tools themselves such as a website and applications. Sharing content is the how individuals interact on these social media tools. And content marketing is the strategy of leveraging the tools via content for a specific purpose.
Instead of simply being users of social media, athletes can leverage their status to create a social media following, create content and get sponsored and funded. We’ll get to this shortly but now, how does social media fit into today's world of marketing.
Social Media and Marketing
Social media is an incredible phenomenon that has re-invented the world we live in. With the help of this incredible technology we are no longer restricted by our geographical location. The World-Wide-Web has connected us not only with each other, but with the knowledge that each of us shares.
As a result, this phenomena has also re-invented marketing. Every company now is trying to connect to this vast network of users. Through creating content and sharing it on social media, companies are trying to capture the views of millions of users and turn them into paying customers.
The battle to capture views online is becoming increasingly more competitive. As a result, companies are spending lots of time and money planning, creating and sharing great content in order to build trust and win over customers. The company with the best content marketing strategy and social media presence will win. And this is where you, as an athlete, can help a company get a winning edge.
Before we get into the details of how to position yourself as an athlete as an indispensable aid in a company's marketing strategy, we need to clarify a couple concepts about content marketing.
Social Media Tools
Social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and all others have given us the ability to share content for free, with anyone, and with incredible speed. A single Facebook video or a tweet shared at the right time can reach millions and millions of people within hours. This is incredible power, especially because it is completely free, and creates a massive network of users, or in the eyes of a marketer - an unbounded market.
You and I are a part of this network and as a result, we too have the power to reach nearly a billion people. Making the shift between being simply a user to a marketer competing for the user's views is essential to capturing funding and sponsorship. It's important to really understand the purpose of social media tools before starting to create content. There are two things that stand out when it comes to social media tools : numbers and quality.
A numbers race
As you begin to think of social media networks as “content” outlets, you soon realize how important your reach is. That is why marketers are constantly working to increase their Twitter followers or Facebook likes. Once they publish a piece of content, the amount of people that will have that content on their feed will determine its reach and its likelihood of going viral. If a single person will share that piece of content then its reach is immediately increased to the number of people in that person's network - for simplicity sake, let's say 1000 people. Following this logic, 50 likes or followers is an opportunity to reach 50,000 viewers. You can see how quickly social media can become a powerful tool to spread information and market a service or product.
A matter of quality
However, as you can imagine the ‘quality’ of content is important. A piece of content will only be shared if it is share-worthy. For example, a Twitter account with a lot of followers can post a bad quality Tweet and receive zero Re-Tweets, while an account with a small amount of followers can share a great piece of content that can go viral and reach millions of users. The important thing is to create content that people will be willing to share. Without content, social media is nothing. If a company wants to thrive online, they need to have great, share-worthy content. What is 'share-worthy' content? More on that below.
Importance of content
When it comes to marketing, content is king. Content is everything and anything - it can be a picture on Instagram, a video on Youtube or a 1000 word blog post. Companies are spending countless hours drafting content marketing plans in order to drive traffic towards their website. Next, they will spend an enormous amount of money on creating that content.
Content needs to be new, refreshing, engaging, entertaining, informative and most importantly, consistent. Consistency is key because consistency will help the company become a trusted and reliable source of knowledge, information and entertainment. Once a company has gained the trust of the customer, it becomes much easier to sell their product.
When you combine the importance of content and the power of social media, the job of a marketer becomes a bit complicated. Especially when trying to create content in a field in which they have no expertise. A marketer will never be able to write the type of content that you can about your sport, so this is a good time for an athlete to come into the picture.
Be that athlete, that source of content and exposure
An athlete is a reliable source of content
Being an athlete in a specific sport, you've probably reached a level of performance that required a certain level of knowledge. Your knowledge is your bargaining leverage. Becoming active on social media by sharing insightful, entertaining content is how you can get the attention of sponsors and potential funders. Sharing content is how you show-off your knowledge. Sharing content is how you connect with people; they will want to know more about you and your athletics.
For crowdfunding, and getting direct financial contributions, being a reliable source of content will help you increase your contributions from circles outside of your own friends and family -- more on this later. As for corporate sponsors, if they are looking to market their product or service in your sport, they will not only need your knowledge, but also your social media followers as a source of exposure. Both your knowledge and community of followers are tools that you can use to bargain with sponsors. Sharing and creating content is easier than you ever thought possible. With the right tools and ideas, you can do all your content marketing in less than 20 minutes a day.
An athlete is a reliable source of exposure
Besides the knowledge that you have, your community of followers, whether on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or any other network is a must-have to increase direct funding or sponsorship opportunities. In today’s marketing world, athletes are ranked not by their athletic results or achievements, but by how many likes or followers they have. The reason is that marketers are can estimate how much business, sales or exposure they will receive based on how many likes or followers that athlete has on social media. With the amount of followers you have, you can also estimate how much funds you can raise with a crowdfunding campaign. With this in mind, it is never too late to start building your community of online followers. With the tools and ideas we'll share with you later you will be amazed at how quickly and easily you'll be able to get an online community of followers.
Well, this is hardly a conclusion as Part 2 of this guide on how to win big with social media will be coming soon. However, I'd like to leave you with a couple of final remarks. I hope that you've understood what a great opportunity you and I have as athletes in today's interconnected social media world. You can get sponsored and funded for your training and competitions without having incredible results.This is great news for all amateur athletes who need funding or sponsorship to reach the next level of their competition. Lastly, stay tuned for part 2 of this guide.
If you have any questions or comments or need any help with your social media and content marketing, leave us a comment below or email us at .
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