Athletes and Their Brand on Social Media

After my presentation last Thursday, I wanted to continue to research on my topic since I feel like there is still so much we can gather from athletes and their usage of social media to grow their brand. Clearly social media has become a huge PR platform and will only continue to grow. It has proven to be a great tool for many people to connect with fans and also grow their brands. I showed a couple of strategies that Steph Curry uses on his Instagram last week, but here we can see how athletes from all over the world utilize social media to gain leverage.

I mentioned some aspects of how professional athletes will use Instagram to increase their popularity with fans. However, there are many more popular athletes, such as Andre Johnson of the Tennessee Titans, who has different but just as effective marketing strategies. On his Facebook, he constantly updates his profile with his charity work and involvement in the local community. These posts are very easy for fans to connect with and prove to be very effective.


Cristiano Ronaldo is arguably the most popular athlete in the world and the Real Madrid forward has about 47.1 million followers on Twitter. Since he is a global phenomenon, his followers come from all over the world. To connect with each and everyone he Tweets in English, Portugese, Spanish, and sometimes in Mandarin when Real Madrid tours in China. Since he can reach fans on Twitter and Facebook from all over the world, he can easily promote his Nike products. Many of his posts on social media include his Nike cleats, apparel, and other products. His large following contributes to the popularity of his short Nike movies he is featured in (Trust me, I’m not saying that all the short films are good!). The films are watched from each corner of the world and they help promote his clothing company, Nike, and his own personal image since many of the films are also in different languages with many more languages available via subtitles. One of the most recent and more popular Nike short films, “The Switch,” includes many of these global aspects by including athletes from across the world. This video was seen all over the world and has over 55 million views, so check it out for yourself!

Jenson Button, a very well known Formula One driver from England uses Question & Answer techniques to stay close with his fans. He will sometimes go back and forth with fans to stir up a discussion about anything to stay connected with them. Some of these discussions are just about trending topics in any sport or about current events. Button is very easy to relate to since he posts and replies to his followers just like any common user would do so. Also, he loves tagging other famous athletes in his posts and he will have comments going back and forth with other athletes so followers could see what Button likes to talk about with his friends, who just happen to be famous as well.


Another common strategy I have noticed athletes doing is posting certain products as free giveaways! For either answering a trivia question correctly, or if they get a desired amount of retweets or likes on their post, the athlete will select a winner. Greg Jennings, when he played for the Minnesota Vikings, used Twitter as a platform to promote his football gloves and also give some away to fans. He did this for his 500th career reception and many players do these giveaways for smaller matters just as a way to show fans that they care about them. The fans could then like the product and Nike benefits from an increase in sales.

When social media was first taking off I can see athletes fearing the fact that their whole lives would be displayed on these platforms. They would lose out on the intimate aspects of their lives that common users of social media still enjoy. Nevertheless, I’m sure athletes in this generation sure do not mind as much anymore, because the popularity they can gain. The pictures, videos, posts, tweets, all have a profound effect on their brand and image. We, as fans, can get a very good understanding of who this football player is behind the helmet when we see his involvement with his community, interests outside of his sport, and by the way he interacts with fans.

During my presentation I mentioned a few very basic methods some athletes, such as Steph Curry, will use their Instagram. They usually have pictures with their family, company and their products. However, there are many more marketing techniques that we have all seen on various social media platforms. Charity involvement, a global presence, interacting with fans, and giveaways, are all interesting marketing techniques that athletes around the world utilize in order to grow their brand.




  1. kdphilippi18 · ·

    Great post! Interesting insights into how athletes are using social media to their advantage. This is not only beneficial to the athlete, but also the brands they associate themselves with. If the brand is able to find someone who matches its brand essence, this influencer type promotion is known to have a much bigger impact on consumers than traditional advertising. Additionally, I’m curious if some lesser known athletes have become more famous or endorsed by a certain brand because of their social media following.

  2. Nice post. I have always found the intersection between social media and sports to be very interesting, and it’s been interesting to see how its evolved in recent years.

  3. cattybradley · ·

    Great post! I think athletes sit in a unique spot where they can promote things they care about (their sport, charitable causes, family, etc) while also showcasing different brands/endorsements. From a marketing perspective, athlete endorsements mean so much more today. Social Media has transformed how companies use athletes to promote their products. Yes, traditional methods such as magazine photoshoots and commercials still exist, but the scale of social media makes it an appealing strategy for reaching more customers.

  4. magicjohnshin1 · ·

    Wonderfully written post! I totally see the value in taking advantage of athletes with a high number of followers. They are essentially platforms that allow for mass publicity and to such a diverse network. This made me think of why people want to acquire Twitter, because of their insanely huge user base. There is so much possibility by using the network that athletes create, and I think you portray that perfectly throughout your blog. On the flip side, it can be dangerous to sponsor an athlete. For example, would you continue to support Colin Kaepernick if you knew what he did? He took a very strong side in the argument and therefore made many fans like him but also hate him. What would you do? Food for thought. Anyways, great post and can’t wait to read more, cheers!

  5. jagpalsingh03 · ·

    Great post Rohan. I think social media has really enhanced sports for all us fans. Like you said, we get to see athletes like never before and the chances of interacting with your favorite player have increased tenfold thanks to Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. I also think these outlets are great for athletes. We’ve seen DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers use Twitter to push breast cancer awareness, something near to his heart and recently, many athletes have used their status as a platform for political activity. On the other hand though, social media has also increased the chances for athletes to “mess up.” For example, there was Will Hill, a football player from Florida, who posted a litany of lewd tweets which accelerated his departure from football. And we’ve talked about Laremy Tunsil and his situation in class. So, while as a fan I think social media goes hand-in-hand with sports, I do think athletes need to be cautious with that they post.

  6. Liked your post. Very informative. Interesting to see how each famous athlete uses their own style of communication in SM, just like people do in face to face interactions. Jenson Button’s Question & Answer style is a brilliant way to connect with fans in a real conversation, engaging them in ways that just reading and viewing can not. I wonder what this will look like in 5 years? 10 years? Will we see links to live video conferences between the famous and the fans?

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