Social media has created and discovered many stars in the music industry. The best example is probably Justin Bieber. His current manager stumbled upon his YouTube video’s and saw a star in him. And Lily Allen used MySpace to promote herself and find following, which lead to the signing of a big contract. And of course there’re the established musicians like Lady Gaga and Beyonce that use social media to engage with fans and in a promotional way.
Over the past years social media has become more and more important in the sports industry as well. Players like LeBron James and Drew Brees have millions followers on Twitter. This is quite easy to explain as these players are very successful. LeBron James won the NBA championship last year and Drew Brees has a Super Bowl ring and holds several NFL-records.
It’s obvious that these players have exceptional talent. At the same time, not all NBA champions nor Super Bowl winners have that many followers. ANd the other way around: not everybody that’s popular on social media had achieved similar things in life. There must be something in there personality that attracts fans and followers.
Personality is very important, not just in real life, but also in the digital social world. Take Tim Tebow, the quarterback of the NY Jets, for example. At the end of last season the Jets invested millions in Tebow when they bought him from the Denver Bronco’s , but up till now Tebow has been a backup to their starter Mark Sanchez. Despite that he is the most talked about quarterback across the NFL on social media and, for example, has three times more followers on Twitter than Sanchez. How is that possible?
Yes, Tebow has talent. That’s why he almost took the Bronco’s to the playoffs last year and the Jets paid millions to acquire him. And he is an interesting appearance in the NFL with his outspoken Christian believes. But there should be other reasons why his popularity on the web exceeds his popularity on the field. In my opinion, an important reason is his personality and the fact that he shares that on social media. Fans want to get to know a player and engage with them. Tebow does a very excellent job at that, he even has an own Tim Tebow App!
Another good example is the introduction of the Portland Trailblazers rookie Damian Lillard to the NBA-fans through social media. Lillard did not attend a college with a highly praised basketball program, so him being drafted sixth this summer came as a surprise to many fans. The fact that the scouts where right and that Lillard has talent is something he’ll have to show on the field. But Lillard decided to start a digital promotion of himself as a person. He revived his Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. And, in addition to that, he posted a mini-documentary about himself on You Tube. Through these various channels Lillard shared his personality and connected with the fans. The NBA season only started a month ago but Lillard is already the third most followed player from the Blazers.
Of course the value of an athlete is mainly determined by his/her talent and the results on the field. But personality and the promotion hereof through social media has on increasing influence on their commercial value. The rumors that the Jets only bought Tebow for P.R. reasons illustrates this.