There was once a time when only elite athletes could sign lucrative endorsement deals. Now, through properly managed social media channels, any athlete can reach millions of viewers and become an online influencer worth partnering with.

In this week’s kernel response, I wanted to write how the key traits and skills social media managers need today  can help athletes build their brand and earn endorsement deals.

Like social media managers, athletes need good copywriting for their tweets or Facebook posts. Good copy makes posts easy to understand and provides a universal tone to the athlete’s social media pages. Formulas are a great way for athletes to craft quality content.

Creating visual content is also important for aspiring athletes trying to generate a following. Research shows that adding images to social media posts is the best way to increase engagement. With social media trends moving away from the standard plain text updates and more towards visual content, making visually appealing original content will become crucial to the success of any social media page. Facebook live, Periscope and Snapchat are great tools to help with this. Live videos are increasing in popularity and allow for higher engagement and personal interactions with fans. As an athlete trying to break out in the sports industry, giving fans a unique look into your life or training can set you apart from your peers.

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Fans today want instant access to their favorite players so they’ll reach out through social media. Athletes that interact with their fans through social media allow the fans to know they’ve been heard and adds a personal touch to the fan-athlete relationship. Good online communication can help attract new followers while strengthening the connection with existing fans.

Analytics can be an athlete’s best friend. They can help athletes spot trends in their posts and give insight into what metrics are most important to reaching their goals. This data can also help athletes understand what causes certain trends and help them plan for future success. And having a proper budget in place allows athletes to promote certain posts through social media advertising, allowing their posts to reach a wider more specific audience.

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Finally, athletes must be curious, willing to adapt and have some business savvy. Curiosity allows athletes to stay up to date with advancements in social media. A willingness to adapt keeps to the newly spotted advancements keeps an athlete ahead of the competition. And the business savvy ties it all together. Generating engagement is nice, but knowing how social media fits into the business side of sports is what pays the bills.

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