Double-Edged Industry

By India Hagen-Gates

Like any profession, athletes need help learning their way around social media. As the ways of communicating change, professionals across industries have to learn to adapt. Taking account of your audience and how they respond to different interactions and situations is crucial to success. Some athletes and teams in the sports industry have struggled with the transition to online media and have stumbled into a crisis. With training and time, athletes can take advantage of their social media in order to build their brand and further contribute to their identity.

Social media sites can help athletes reach targeted groups as long as they know where their audience is. If an athlete is chasing likes on Instagram, when their fans are mainly active on Facebook, then they are wasting time. Athletes need the guidance of communication professionals to know where to begin, with people. After examining their target audience, athletes can move onto what type of media they want to put out, whether it’s photos, videos, or microblogs. One thing is clear, in order to be successful you have to pay attention to your audience at every stage of the social media process.

As athletes learn how to present themselves online, they must remember the effect each post can have on their image. Whatever an athlete posts, whether it is before their career or long after they have retired, can have devastating ramifications on their public image and chances in the industry. They may jeopardize their image in the minds of the fans or even risk their careers. Before posting, an athlete has to think of their desired message. If they represent a team, league, or network they have to be sure that whatever they are about to send will not clash with that bottom-line but will add something to it.

For every example of an athlete misusing social media there are several examples of athletes thriving online through positive postings. Whether driving the team brand, sharing life milestones, or being motivational, athletes have to be sure that their post will fit their image. There are many ways to brand yourself online. No two athlete profiles are the same; they each have many different directions in which they can take their social media character. Athletes come online with an established fan-base ready to like, follow, or tweet their favorite star. So the challenge for athletes in the sports industry remains not finding an audience, but listening to them.