How Student Athlete Brand Partnerships can deliver better results?

The primary strategy towards student-athlete brand partnerships is best for innovation and evolution. It has been years since social media became the new modern mode of providing opportunities for brands to connect with their athletes.

Sponsored athletes share their social media posts along with hashtags i.e #ad with a video or picture from the production shoot & few copies. The athlete is required to match up with the number of posts and brand focuses on various channels for activating the athlete partnership like appearances, events & commercials.

In the midst of this smooth student-athlete brand partnership, 2020 occurred. Social media took on greater importance for most as a centre for engagement, communication and information.

More social media linked users involving the athletes had a lot of time in their hands even. Many even seized the time for posting a lot more & developing their brands on the social media channels, accelerating the requirement and opportunity for the purpose of how brands activate athlete partnerships. 

Note that student-athlete brand partnerships are not known to be professional influencers 

Athletes hold massive influence on the social media channels but the brands cannot activate them just like influencers. They are brand ambassadors or brand advocates.

When they are behind a service or product, it means that they are giving it their most required endorsement and their end audience or fans expect the same to be genuine and authentic. They hold long term relations with brands and certainly not short term flings for the set of posts or transactional posts.

In place of pre-written social media posts, which read similar to advertisements, such student-athlete brand partnerships require connecting directly with their target audience.

They can do so by posting unique videos and photos and by writing in their own voice. Through such a one-way endorsement plan, brand and athlete both can benefit. Brand and athlete both can work together as a whole to generate content for social media platforms in the form of partnerships. It is certainly not a utopian vision and it is how few of the student-athlete brand partnerships play out these days.

Most of the players in PLL or Premier Lacrosse League proffer an instance of such collaborations and exchange of content. PLL identifies their players as brand ambassadors whose success is interlinked with the success of the league.

Corporate partners, league staff, athletes all share a kind of private group communication & content exchange channel. League and club proactively both provide every athlete with accessibility to galleries of practice photos and game clips, so they have good content for their social media feeds.

League partners even have accessibility to galleries of videos and photos from PLL games, content and practices to showcase their products. The outcome is – Partners and players delivering more than what their fans expect a high-quality content placed up in their feeds.

Athletes in form of partners and no commercials

Fans can actually tell the difference when a specific athlete’s social media post comes up contrived. A true endorsement power is when the players post naturally when it appears ad hoc as if the players snapped an instant picture in the course of their practice. This authenticity makes their fans feel that they are able to get a sneak peek into the life of the athlete.

One of the major questions that come up is that is it better for the athlete to show their sponsored social media show in the front and centre aspect or will it be more effective if the athlete appears to be residing their daily life & product is a part of their habits? This question illustrates a major concept: #partner posts must not appear any different as compared to the regular post of the athlete. The way to make it happen is to allow the athletes themselves to lead the content with production assistance and direction from the brand.

Athlete created content is the next level of sports partnership 

When the athletes behave as creators & take videos and photos for posting them on social media channels that content turns into currency for brand partners. This forced shift away from costly production shoots owing to pandemics was actually a blessing in disguise for many brands that spend a lot on this.

Those brands who were forward-thinking used brand advocacy podiums such as Greenfly to ask their athletes to come up with original content. Embracing such homemade content, which the athlete can produce on their own was only the beginning of next level sports marketing.

The outcome to this was only content that was not just less costly to prepare but even more valuable as it was authentic. Many of the brands even found this kind of content to outperform studio created media by a considerable margin, which enhanced fan’s engagement as well as distribution.

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