In the world of athlete partnerships, having a large social media following is more important than ever. But simply building a following is not enough – athletes should also consistently curate a mix of content that showcases their personality, athleticism, and personal life to keep their followers engaged. From travel-themed TikToks to creative editing, let’s explore some fresh ideas to bolster your social media content strategy and keep audiences from clicking "unfollow."
Audiences follow people like Naomi Osaka and Cristiano Ronaldo to feel inspired by what it takes to compete at the highest level. And social media is the most accessible way to make this possible! To give followers this sought-after insight, athletes can provide an inside peek into their training regimen. Creative editing techniques such as time-lapse or slow-motion effects, split-screen editing, and overlaying viral sounds and music can make training videos more interesting and entertaining. It’s not as difficult as it seems, either. There are plenty of intuitive editing apps on the market that are smartphone accessible. Consider CapCut: it’s an all-in-one video editor that allows creators to split clips, add transitions, music, and visual effects all with the swipe of a finger.
Additionally, athletes can inject their personality into their training content by voicing over their training sessions in an authentic tone that aligns with their personal brand. Whitney Simmons, for example, is a health vlogger and GymShark athlete who infuses humor and authenticity into her gym videos. By posting mic'd-up footage on YouTube and repackaging clips on Instagram Reels and TikTok, she shows her followers the fun side of weight training. With silly accents and infectious laughter, Simmons brings a sense of approachability and joy to an otherwise serious activity. This approach can be adapted by other athletes as well, who can use their own voice and personal brand to add an authentic and engaging touch to their training content.
As athleisure grows in popularity, audiences look to the pros for inspiration. Posting content that showcases style on and off the field is one more way athletes can keep followers tuned in. “Outfit of the Day (OOTD)” content has sustained as a social media staple, and creators are constantly finding new ways to utilize the trend. To mix up a stand-alone OOTD post, athletes can try incorporating a collection of Instagram carousel photos that follow a week of outfits, enlisting colorful and unique backgrounds to contrast their mirror selfies. Short-form Instagram Reels or TikToks work for style content too, especially when paired with a “Get Ready With Me” theme. For longer-form video platforms like YouTube, followers engage well with closet tours and highlights of a sneaker or jersey collection.
NBA players provide a great example of merging style with athletics through social media content. Oklahoma Thunder player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, does it so well that he won GQ’s Most Stylish Man of the Year and is a Converse partner! Taking advantage of the NBA’s culture of dressing in “business attire” when arriving or departing from games, Shai repurposes media coverage of his outfits on his Instagram page. He turns a normal walk into the locker room into an editorial-like fashion shoot that his followers love. Whether he’s sporting Chrome Hearts or Prada, fans eagerly await what look and designer he’ll post next.
Athletes also have the rare advantage of traveling worldwide for games and training, allowing them to showcase travel content to diversify their feeds. Some possible ideas for TikTok and Instagram Reels content include a “Pack With Me” video highlighting personal travel essentials pre-trip, travel “storytimes” recapping moments after the trip, and VLOGs throughout. Longer videos are popular too, especially when they capture restaurants, sights, museums, and nightlife for followers to live vicariously through!
One emerging #TravelTok trend particular to D1 college athletes is “Day in the Life: Travel Edition” content. University of Texas track and field star, Sam Hurley, has amassed 3.6M TikTok followers and leads the charge in college athlete content creation. He recently posted a “Meet Week Travel Day” TikTok that garnered nearly 100K likes. Hurley’s VLOG followed him from his ChikFila breakfast to track practice, on and off the team plane, and to his hotel. He added text overlays of time to pace the video and mimic the natural progression of his day. Within the video, Hurley gave fans peeks of his hotel room, meals throughout the day, and commentary on the relationships he shares with his teammates. Through these videos, followers get a behind-the-scenes look into athlete travel.
Athletes are more than just the sports they play. Whether it’s reading, cooking, or philanthropy, they have a wide variety of interests to leverage through social media content. Doing so adds variety to their feed, nets a wider audience, and expands their reach beyond their sport.
For instance, as an avid reader, CrossFit pro Dani Speegle uses Instagram Stories to highlight the book she’s currently reading. A simple snap of the book’s cover elicits conversations among her fanbase and leads to engagement beyond the fitness community. Zana Muno and Winter Vinecki use stand-alone Instagram posts to highlight their love of gardening. By sharing their unique interests, they diversify their content without relying solely on training and competition highlight reels.
When athletes share their niche interests on social media, they not only engage and entertain their audiences, they catch the attention of relevant brands. NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns, for example, has always shared his interest in video games on Instagram and Twitter– even hopping on Twitch streams to engage with fans. As a result, Towns has gained partnerships with brands like Gaming Community Network and gaming tech company, ROG Global. Brands like these see that the athlete’s personal interest and social media following is already established, making the partnership both a lucrative and authentic one.
As athletes use social media content creation to keep followers engaged, it’s critical to remember that timing is key. Trends come and go, and it’s important to stay up-to-date. When applying the key concepts discussed, creators can remain on top of social media using these resources:
Above all, athletes should have fun with their social media posts! There’s joy in creating content that lets followers in on their personality, training, and passions outside of sport. Followers see the genuine excitement and become life-long, engaged fans.