Build Your Brand: Social Media for Athletes

Do you want more social media followers? Do you want to attract sponsors?

On September 1st at 2pm EDT, OpenSponsorship will have a webinar for our athletes on how to get the most out of your social media accounts. Social media expert Neal Schaffer will be hosting, giving tips and answering your questions live. An excerpt from his website describes Neal:

Neal Schaffer is a recognized leader in the world of business social media. In addition to be named one of marketing’s ten biggest thought leaders by CMO.com, Neal has also been recognized as a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer two years in a row as well as a Forbes Top 5 Social Sales Influencer. Neal serves the social media for business industry in a variety of ways: As founder of the social media agency PDCA Social, co-founder of the social media industry’s definitive social media conference, the Social Tools Summit. faculty member of the Rutgers University Business School Mini Social Media MBA Program. author of three social media books, including the definitive book on social media strategy creation, implementation, and optimization “Maximize Your Social: A One-Stop Guide to Building a Social Media Strategy for Marketing and Business Success” (Wiley) creator of the leading social media for business blog Maximize Social Business, a global social media speaker who has spoken on four continents at hundreds of events, and the founder of the new Social Media Center of Excellence community of social media professionals sharing experiences in defining best practices in using social media for business.

Webinar Preview: 5 Questions with Neal Schaffer

In preparation for the webinar, we asked Neal to answer 6 questions about himself.

1. When did you start using social media?

“Well as a professional, I think for a lot of us the first social network that we used is Linkedin. I became a Linkedin user in 2004. I did not use linked in very often until I had a need to, which was in early 2008 when I moved back from living in Japan for 15 years, believe it or not, to my native southern California. I was in the middle of a job search and all my network was in Asia. I needed to build a network and find opportunities, and Linkedin is where I turned to. That’s what really got my entire social media journey started because I realized a few tips and tricks about using Linkedin that helped me appear at the top of the search results, helped me interact with and get to meet new and relevant people. Through that experience I started to blog and from that blog I created a book. The blog began in 2008 when I became a very active user of Linkedin. That blog is now called “Maximize Social Business.” It’s actually gone through two name changes since then, but that very very first post from July of 2008 is there. I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008, Facebook in the spring of 2009, and I published my first book on Linkedin in 2009 which led to my first speaking engagement and then in January of 2010 it led to several companies reaching out to me simultaneously asking for my help vis-à-vis social media and then I launched my social media consulting company Windmills Marketing. That was January 2010 and I haven’t looked back.”

2. How long have you been working in the social media field?

That was in January of 2010, my first speaking engagement was July of 2009, my first book published in September of 2009. It was really in January of 2010 I had someone that had heard about me locally because I was very actively networking and speaking and helping people with their Linkedin. A reader of my book reached out to me, someone that had seen me speak, and another person that met me through a Linkedin group actually. It just happened over this two-week period where all these companies from different industries with different needs said ‘look we need help with our social media, we don’t know what we don’t know, we want you to help guide us into doing what we need to do.’ That’s when I realized that at that time I did not want to go the agency route, I wanted to go the strategy consulting route. I realized that what companies needed then, and what often they need now, is about the strategy to align their social media efforts with their business objectives, as well as education and that education has very broad meaning. It could be training, it could be educating them on best practices or using the platform…It was really more on the advising and really on the strategic level, but I also get very hands on with training.”

3. What social media do you have? Do you run your own accounts?

“I have several social media accounts and yes, I run them all. I suppose I like to say I am the brand manager…I have the brand of Neal Schaffer and Neal Schaffer you’re gonna find most on social media. I also have my blog which is now a full blown media site called “Maximize Social Business” which is active on social media. I have my social media conference that I co-founded “The Social Tools Summit” which also has a presence, and then I have my community for social media professional called “The Social Media Center of Excellence” which also has a presence. At a minimum, all of these brands are on twitter. Twitter really is my number one platform for a lot of different reasons. I’m also on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Periscope, podcasts on iTunes. Some of these platforms obviously I’m more active on that others, but in a nutshell that’s the type of social media that I have: audio, video, text. And yes I do run my accounts but I will say that I have a staff that do help in the back end. When you run an agency, like I do now, you realize that there are some tasks that are easier for others to run. Some require you to be personally engaging with others and I think being able to figure that out is going to help companies learn how to scale their social media as well as learn how to engage with companies like my own, and this goes obviously for athletes as well.”

4. What is the most important social media to be on? Why?

“Well, this comes down to every company is going to be different, every company has a unique demographic. Maybe your demographic is most active on Snapchat, maybe they’re most active on Instagram, maybe they’re most active on Pinterest. I mean, social media marketing is all about being where your customer is and the first thing I do with my clients is try to figure out what are going to be the most strategic platforms to invest in. It’s not about investing in 5 or 10 different platforms, especially if you’re an athlete you just don’t have time for that, and a lot of small businesses don’t either. I like to say start with two platforms. With two platforms you can A/B test, you can start to see which is going to be more successful, which is going to contribute more to your ROI, and go from there. The most important one, therefore, is going to be the one that turns out to be the better of the two from that A/B test. One of my clients was sold that they had to be on Facebook and I said ‘well let’s try Twitter as well’ and Twitter has turned out to be way more successful then Facebook both from an organic and from a paid perspective. It just goes to show you that you need to have a data-driven approach: go where the data leads you.”

5. What do you think defines a successful account? Is it follower count?

“I’m thinking about this in terms of an athlete. I think a successful account is one that is active, that is influential, and one that is engaging with their audience. It’s not necessarily number of followers, but I think number of followers should coincide with how famous you’re perceived to be, whether you’re an athlete or a brand, and do the numbers add up to where I would expect you to be. If you’re just starting out, I don’t expect you to have numbers, but if you’re Kobe Bryant, I expect that you’re going to have a lot a lot a lot of followers, especially when compared to a Kevin Durant or other athletes, just as one specific example. I want to see that you’re active. Do you have to be posting daily? No. But when you post, I want to see something special. I want to know that its coming directly from you and if you do end up having a staff and you do end up having promotional things, great. Add a little hastag mark that says its coming from the staff, which is a very popular thing that celebrities that I’ve worked with, as well as athletes, will do. But think of it this way: what defines a successful account from an athlete’s perspective is that type of account that gives them the branding that sponsors are going to reach out to them and say ‘you know what we consider you an influential athlete, not only on the field, but off the field in social. We’ve seen how people engage with your content. We think you’d make a perfect sponsor for our product, not just in TV commercials or advertisements, because we know that we’re going to get extra mileage for our advertising buck by working with you as an influence in social media.’ That defines a successful account.”

For more from Neal, check out the event page and tune into the webinar on September 1st at 2pm EDT.

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