Sports marketing has long had an important role in the sports entertainment industry. The ability to establish athlete brands with their respective fan bases is crucial for every athlete’s future, but it takes even more than good branding to make a great athlete. Marketing strategies are constantly changing with emerging technology and new demographics, so knowing what to focus on means adapting to these changes.

Here are 12 important tips for athlete branding in 2021.

1. Dominate Social Media

As social media becomes more and more popular, athlete branding has to engage audiences across multiple platforms for the best possible reach. Today, social media accounts are prerequisites for athlete brands. It is essential to have at least one dedicated account on every major platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Fans want instant access to athlete content, and waiting for athlete news to air on TV or in the newspaper grows more and more impractical over time. Athletes should develop strong social media accounts with frequent content sharing and reach out to like-minded professional athlete pages (home teams, sister teams, etc.) for combined efforts.

2. Create Captivating Content

The most effective way to create a social media communication plan is to focus on content that engages audiences. Highly shareable athlete stories, athlete takeovers on fan pages, and humorous athlete-created videos are just a few examples of effective posts. In addition, it is important for athlete marketing teams to have an easy way to access powerful photos from events for custom graphics and videos, something that social media can provide.

3. Personalize With Video

People love athlete-to-fan connection, and athlete videos are the best way to achieve this goal. The more athletes can relate to their fans on an individual level, the better. Show them their favorite athlete’s quirky idiosyncrasies or humorous facial expressions in athlete videos that capture the essence of each athlete. You can even use sites with live streaming capability, such as Instagram live, Facebook live, or Twitch to forge connections through real-time interaction.

4. Get Social With Retail

Retail strategies are ever-evolving, but athlete promotion is still a common method for branding. This can come in the form of athlete appearances at retail outlets or athlete endorsement deals with sports apparel companies. For example, athletes could offer fans exclusive deals on customized sports apparel that can only be purchased through athlete promotions. Additionally, athlete brand deals with retailers and athlete merchandise promotions are just a few ways to effectively integrate retail promotion into your branding strategy.

5. Catch Media Attention

Athlete branding teams need to have press kits ready for promotion events, so journalists can easily look up athlete information and share athlete brand stories with their respective audiences. It is essential to have a PR team that knows how to pitch athlete stories to journalists as well as create athlete bios that are easy for journalists and fans alike to read and share.

6. Keep It Fun

Fans enjoy athlete brands that have a sense of humor, which is not limited to athlete posts themselves but athlete social media accounts as a whole. Humorous athlete accounts tend to be more popular and have more engagement, so athlete brands should try to maintain a humorous athlete voice throughout their accounts. Additionally, humor is linked to a stronger recall and can therefore be one of the most effective methods of building your brand.

7. Keep It Real

Athlete branding teams also need to keep athlete posts relatable by being transparent about athlete struggles and victories. If an athlete has been injured recently or had a poor performance, athlete brands should focus on the athlete’s recovery or highlight athlete training. This type of athlete update is highly valuable for athlete brands because it shows a more intimate side of athlete stories and humanizes athlete brands, making them more approachable. This type of content is highly inspirational for audiences, and studies show that inspirational content creates some of the highest engagement!

8. Pay Attention to Analytics

There are many analytics tools available to athlete brands in 2021, and it is important for athlete marketing teams to use these resources. These tools can help athlete branding teams see which athlete posts perform the best and make a focused effort on creating high-performing athlete updates. In addition, paid advertising can be a great way for athlete brands to get athlete posts in front of a specific group of athlete fans.

9. Give Back to the Community

Athlete branding teams should also make athlete social media accounts community-focused, which can be done by partnering with charitable organizations or running athlete-driven donation campaigns. Athlete content that focuses on charity work is highly engaging and increases brand awareness, so sports branding teams should incorporate this type of athlete content whenever possible.

10.  Keep It Fresh

Athlete posts in 2021 should be current and relevant to athlete fans, which requires athlete marketing teams to update athlete accounts often. If athlete social media teams only post once a month or every few months, it is unlikely that they will have high engagement rates on these athlete posts. By posting multiple times per week, athlete brands can keep athlete pages active and ensure that athlete fans are always seeing athlete updates in their news feeds.

11. Automate to Save Time

Sports branding teams should take advantage of athlete scheduling tools to automate athlete posts so they can spend more time creating high-quality content. These Scheduling tools are especially useful for athlete accounts that post multiple times per day, because it is very difficult and too time consuming to login and post athlete updates manually on a consistent basis.

12. Partner with Other Brands and Athletes

Athlete marketing teams need to work with other athlete brands in 2021 so athlete accounts can collaborate. Working together to create athlete posts helps spread brand awareness while also increasing the reach of the individual athlete pages involved in the collaboration. Partnerships like this are beneficial for all parties involved and should be used to create athlete posts whenever possible.

As sports entertainment industries work on their athlete branding strategies, it is important that they keep the above 12 essential suggestions for a good sports marketing strategy in mind. For more information about athlete marketing, check out BrandStar Sports & Entertainment, a marketing agency based in South Florida that specializes in branding and marketing services for professional sports players and personalities in the entertainment industry.