One of the most integral functions of a sports agency is getting its clients out in the public eye. Look at the website of any company that represents an athlete, and you will find that athlete prominently displayed on the homepage of that company. You will also find the services that the agency provides its athletes, and among them, you will more than likely come across some form of social media management. However, the strategy that most agencies apply to social media for their own pages is focuses on posting highlight reels, photos from appearances, or sharing content from either the team or personal pages of their clients. They are not giving their followers content that they cannot find anywhere else. These days, social media is an essential component to marketing, and the key to winning the popularity contest is standing out from your competition.
An easy way to differentiate an agency is by getting original content from the athletes themselves. No two athletes are the same. Each has a different story behind how they got to where they are, and who they have become in the process. There are reasons why people read magazines like Sports Illustrated, and why ESPN hit a home run when they unveiled the 30 for 30 series of documentaries. We love to hear the behind-the-scenes stories about athletes. Instead of giving us the same video of a particular moment, why not get the perspective of the person responsible for creating it?
Another common post is a graphic that follows these lines: “Welcome (athlete name) to the (company name) Family!”, with a picture of the athlete to accompany it. That graphic would be so much more interesting and compelling if there was an origin story attached to it. We want to know how they came to sign with an agency, and not just that they did so. The Players Tribune has been so successful because their articles come from the athletes themselves, giving first hand accounts instead of an alternate interpretation. As fans, we love to see our favorite teams do well, but we also like to relate to our favorite players. Showcasing client-created content achieves this with ease and authenticity.
To succeed in social media, an agency must also come up with content that is unique, and put it out on a regular schedule. One example of putting out original posts is Connecticut-based Octagon. Of course, the focus is on the athletes first, and they do have posts about their clients’ achievements and highlights. What sets them apart is how they are using social platforms, particularly Facebook. A quick glance at their news feed includes a Facebook Live broadcast of a panel discussion for International Women’s Day, a tutorial on the emerging Snapchat Lens Studio, and a post recapping CES. All of this content is proprietary, features employees of the agency and uses Facebook to its fullest potential. To be seen as a major player in sports business, an agency should be able to acknowledge what distinguishes one social platform from another, and use each one in a different way.
As long as marketing has been around, it has had a profound influence on our habits as consumers. Whether it comes from a catchy jingle, brilliant imagery, or a memorable tagline, companies find ways to hook us in. At its core, digital marketing and influencers are no different. What makes it so attractive to companies is that it allows them to facilitate and control the conversation about a particular brand. Agencies can take advantage of this by posting content that will get a dialogue going. This could be as simple as asking a question about what is going on in the industry, or taking up for a cause that a prominent athlete is passionate about. By going past the vanilla highlight posts and getting into the real issues, an agency can get its profile out into the mainstream.
By finding unique ways to leverage social media, an agency can become to sports media what Kleenex has become to tissues: the brand most synonymous with a product, and the standard-bearer in a given field.
-Matt Mellinger, Communications Coordinator