• Carlie Medina

Social Media For Athletes: The Good & The Bad


PSG Footballer Kylian Mbappé. Image via Twitter.

Social media is a part of many people’s everyday lives. Aside from using it to keep in touch with friends and post about our lives, social media gives Athletes the opportunity to work with brands and access additional income streams through ambassador roles, collaborations and marketing campaigns.


When it comes to sport, fans want to engage directly with the Athletes to have an insight into their personal lives. This provides Athletes with the opportunity to grow their social media following quite quickly and organically from the fans of their sport or Club and from associated media exposure and every other channel people consume sport.


Athletes who take advantage of their sporting platform and grow their social media profiles have the opportunity to build their personal Athlete brand, work with brands and promote businesses or side interests.


Despite social media seeming simple and easy to manage, if an Athlete is looking to make the most of their efforts online and take advantage of the opportunities social media can provide there are a few things to consider. In this blog article, we look into the good and the bad aspects of social media for Athletes.



The Good:


1. Opportunity For Control


An Athlete has total control over what is shared on their social media accounts. As an Athlete, a lot of information can be released and known by the public including contract agreements, personal stories and scandals, opinions on athletic performance and much more, this is a large part of sports news and leaving it to the media to form opinions isn’t the best option. Athletes can use their social media accounts to be the first to announce important news and control the conversation about them by sharing their story directly. It is this control paired with a strategy that gives Athletes the chance to grow their personal Athlete brand on their social media accounts, and ensure they control the accuracy of their stories and opinions.



2. Access Additional Income Streams & Opportunities


Social media may have started as a place to socialise though it now provides Athletes with a platform to earn additional income through working with brands. The typical ways that Athletes can earn additional income on social media is through social media campaigns, paid advertising on their personal profiles, ambassador roles, collaborations and affiliate marketing. Athletes typically have highly engaged followers which are most attractive to brands because of the higher rate to which these followers trust the opinions and recommendations from Athletes. A few front-runners in the game are Tim Cahill, Samantha Kerr and Stephanie Gilmore who are highly sought out by big brands and demonstrate the opportunity many Australian Athletes have to earn additional income streams through social media.


Australian Paralympian, Dylan Alcott promoting his best-selling book. Image via Instagram @dylanalcott

3. Promote Your Business & Passion Projects


Social media gives Athletes an audience to advertise their businesses and passion projects for free! Most Athletes will have a large, devoted fan base who are highly engaged by regularly commenting, sharing and liking posts. This creates the ultimate place for an Athlete to promote their businesses and assist these new and often small businesses to grow! Billy Slater is a great example of an Athlete using his social media to promote his businesses, Billy’s Buddies and Brick Lane Brewing Co. Billy’s Brick Lane Brewing Co announcement on his Instagram accumulated over 16,000 likes and would have significantly helped the brewery to gain followers and build awareness for the new business.



The Bad:


1. Own Your Name Or Someone Else Will


Social media isn’t everyone’s passion and some Athletes might not be interested in using it. Although as Athletes, they will have a number of people searching for them online looking to follow and engage with them. The downside to not being interested in having a social media account is that other people may realise this and use it as an opportunity to own the Athlete’s name and account handle, ie. @rogerfederer. Once this happens, all future fans, brands and even sports leagues or Clubs who search for this Athlete will find an account that is not the actual Athlete. This can become problematic if the content being shared on these accounts is controversial, untrue or damaging to one’s Athlete brand, it can also cost you a lot of money to buy the accounts from the owners. We suggest all Athletes at least create social media accounts in their own names even if they don’t wish to participate in using the account.



2. Careful What You Say


Athletes might not have chosen or anticipated to become ‘famous’ or grow a large following on their social media accounts, although once they have they should be careful with what they post online. Particularly with topics and opinions related to race, politics or religion. Every person is entitled to their own opinion and thoughts, it is simply a ‘safe option’ for Athletes to keep these controversial topics to themselves in order to avoid negative stories in the media and risk any brand or player contract terminations. If Athlete’s don’t want to be careful that’s fine though they should own this element of their Athlete brand and accept how it may affect their reputation over the long-term.


NFL Quarterback, Tom Brady. Image via Press Herald.

3. Dealing With Haters


Unfortunately, ‘haters’ is an element to social media that virtually no one is void from facing. It can be difficult for many people to manage negative comments or stories that arise from being in the public eye. Sports is a competitive industry and there will be times when fans are angry and asserting their opinions about players, coaches, teams and aspects of the game. Athletes have to decide whether or not the positive benefits to social media outweigh this negative aspect. Aside from these mental health considerations, Athletes should also be aware of the weight that ‘trolls’ or ‘haters’ can have on their athletic performance. Athletes need to determine their own personal way to manage this aspect of social media.


Social media gives Athletes the opportunity to grow an Athlete brand with their fans, access additional income streams. Despite the potentially bad elements of social media the opportunities it creates certainly outweigh the negatives in our opinion. If an Athlete is interested in growing their social media accounts and creating a strategy, it is worthwhile to engage a professional to assist them with the process.



Contact Agency X today to talk with brand marketing and social media experts on how we can assist you! Reach us at hello@agencyx.com.au or through our website www.agencyx.com.au.


Agency X provides athlete management, sports marketing and brand management consultancy and training services for athletes, brands and sports organisations.

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