Tips From the Athlete Analyst: Gain More Followers With Simple, Effective Social Media Profiles

In a sea of over 500 thousand student-athletes and 10 thousand professional athletes, how can you stand out and be found on social media?

When a fan wants to find and follow an athlete, they will typically search the athlete’s name, either through a search engine or through the social platform itself. If the athlete’s social profile doesn’t display when their name is searched on the platform — or on the first page of a Google search — chances are high that the user will lose interest in finding that following that athlete.

A little background…

In my time as an Athlete Analyst at Opendorse, I’ve searched for well over 100 thousand athlete social media handles (yes, really) across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to track and analyze data from their accounts. So, I like to think I’ve mastered the art of finding an athlete’s URL. But there are still some that I struggle to find. 

Finding an Athlete on Social Media

The process to find an individual athlete’s profile can range from quick and easy to shockingly time-consuming. Difficult or not, my process is pretty straightforward:

  1. Start with a search on the platform of choice, say Twitter.
  2. If the initial search doesn’t yield a relevant result, search for their last name. This typically only works if the last name is unique.
  3. Try popular nicknames (“Boogie” Cousins for Demarcus Cousins) or abbreviated first names (Steph vs. Stephen).
  4. If a handle is found on one platform, athletes will often have the same on others.

If there’s still no luck, then it’s time to head to Google.

  1. Search for the athlete’s name, the intended social platform, and the athlete’s team or league — for example: “Stephen Curry Instagram” or “Stephen Curry Golden State Warriors Instagram.”
  2. As a last resort, I’ll even search through who the athlete’s team account is following and search photos from the team account in hopes to find their handle tagged. 

These are the steps I go through within my role at Opendorse. But will the average sports fan and social media user go through these steps to follow an athlete of interest? Probably not.

To put it simply: if you can’t be found, you can’t be followed.

Get Found. Get Followed.

Here’s the good news: it’s very easy to make your profile more searchable for fans and brands. Any athlete or influential person can quickly adjust their display name without scrapping their social strategy.

Your display name = your name

The easiest and most important step is simple. Match your display name to the name listed on your athletic department or organization’s biography, or the name listed on national websites (ESPN, recruiting websites, etc). This easy change will ensure that your personal profile displays higher in search results, and can be found by users. 

If desired, you can still showcase your personality or a lesser-known nickname in your handle or bio so long as your display name is easy to search.

Include your team or organization

Adding your university, team, or organization’s name or social media handle to your profile is another way to ensure you’re easily found.

That way, even if your name is the same or similar to another higher-profile professional athlete or celebrity, you still have the ability to appear higher in relevant search results.

Profile Photos Matter

Your profile photo is the first thing users see alongside your display name. it should be clear to fans that you’re the one they’re searching for. Add a profile photo that is easy to recognize by including your face.

For even easier recognition, look to include a picture of you in uniform or alongside the branding of your team or organization.

Cross-Channel Consistency

One more simple step to make it easy for fans to find you — maintain consistency across all of your social channels. Your display name is the clear place to start. It should be the same across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If your display name is already set, try to maintain consistency with your handle. If it remains the same across each platform, fans can simply copy-paste to find your profile anywhere. 

Being found on social media is really that easy. In about five minutes, athletes can tweak their social profiles to ensure they’re easy to find for fans, media, and even brand marketers.   



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