Student-athletes just recently became eligible to build and profit off of their own personal brand after the NCAA updated their NIL—which refers to the name, image, and likeness—rules in late 2019. These NIL rule updates made more than 500,000 student-athlete influencers eligible to partner with brands and monetize their NIL when those privileges were previously restricted to just about 5,000 professional athletes.
Student-athlete influencers represent a largely untapped market and using these athlete influencers to promote your brand can be a very lucrative investment for your brand. That being said, the world of student-athletes as professional social media influencers is fairly new—and there are specific guidelines to keep in mind when working with student-athlete influencers. Keep reading to learn 5 top tips for successfully using student-athlete influencers to achieve the best results for your brand.
Understand the Rules
Even though the updated NIL rules now allow college athletes to monetize their own personal brand and profit off of their name, image, and likeness, there are still specific rules and guidelines that have to be followed when it comes to using student-athlete influencers to promote your brand.
It is important to keep in mind state laws, NIL rules, and the rules of the university that a student-athlete attends when working with a student-athlete influencer. Dealing with all of these different sets of rules might seem daunting, but learning about these rules and following them is definitely worth the effort to avoid being penalized for breaking a rule you didn’t know existed.
Keep it Authentic
Most student-athletes already have followings that they have built off of their involvement in their sport. Partly because they did not originally build their followings as monetized social media influencers but rather as student-athletes just being themselves, most student-athletes have followings that know them better than the followings of other types of influencers.
This means that it is important to maintain authenticity in all of the work you do with student-athlete influencers. For example, do not assign monetized social media posts to a student-athlete that advertise products that the student-athlete does not actually use. Chances are good that any student-athlete’s followers will be able to see right through inauthentic advertisements such as these because they already know who the student-athlete really is and what their preferences and values are.
Know Who You’re Targeting
When working with student-athlete influencers, it is important to know the audience that you want to target. Most student-athlete influencers already have well-developed followings that are built based on each student-athlete’s interests, values, behaviors, the sport they play, etc.
Knowing the audience that you want to target can help you choose to work with student-athlete influencers whose content already reaches your target audience, which will help your social media marketing campaign be much more successful.
It is important to remember that student-athlete influencers are not full-time influencers. Most student-athletes practice their sport 30 to 40 hours a week, if not more. Beyond practice commitments, they also have time commitments for games, events, etc.
In short, student-athletes are extremely busy. Their lives are devoted primarily to the sports they play, which means that they can’t spend all of their time working on monetized social media posts like full-time influencers may be able to do.
This is important to keep in mind when working with student-athletes. It is crucial that your work with student-athlete influencers is efficient and easy for them to follow through on without too much of a time or effort commitment in order to ensure the most successful results for your brand.
Many college athletes have huge followings and may seem like they have been professional influencers for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean that partnering with student-athlete influencers is going to revitalize your brand overnight.
It’s important to remember that student-athletes have only recently become eligible to profit off of their NIL. They have less experience with social media influencing and marketing than other brand ambassadors with comparable numbers of followers who have built their followings off of influencing and marketing.
This doesn’t mean that student-athletes can’t be successful as social media influencers and brand ambassadors. It just means that you should be prepared to be patient with your student-athlete influencers and offer them as much guidance as possible to ensure that you get the results you want for your brand.
Contact us today if you’re looking to start a new campaign involving the use of local student-athlete influencers.