Influencer Marketing In Sports:
Influencers vs Those with influence

Influencer marketing has become a common tactic in the marketing mix. The reason is simple – audiences crave human connection, especially on social media. After all, connecting people with people was the original purpose of social networks. 

Faces in your feed

Consider your last social media session. Whether you were using Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, what made you slow your scroll? Was it the logos or the faces in your feed that made you stop and really look at a post?

If you use social media like the majority of the public, it was the faces. And not just faces, but the faces of influencers.

Influencers are filling our feeds with high quality content, helping to shape opinions and decisions, bringing you closer to communities or products. Marketers have embraced this power. They know influencers bring more trust and credibility than a brand logo. Z

New term, old tactic

In sports, there’s another level of influence. One that marketers have realized for decades. In sports, “influencer marketing” is really a new term for an old thing – athlete endorsements. Those with influence are paid to endorse certain products or brands.

For athletes, influence isn’t built with selfie-sticks and studios, but by a second-nature allegiance. This unmatched bond is between athletes and their fans – and it’s the most powerful connection in sports.

In fact, athletes engage their audience at a rate 10-times higher than sports properties, and 7-times higher than sports publishers. Their impact on their audience is unmatched.

Even with this connection, most athletes aren’t born marketers. They’re not like the average influencer. Yes, they create content – the moments on and beyond the field of play. But unlike influencers, they don’t have access to it.

While sports properties and publishers share upwards of 600 posts per month on their social media channels, professional athletes share six. The most powerful voices in sports barely share one post per week. So, what’s the disconnect?

Influencers are creators. They’re marketers who succeed by creating and sharing content that they create.  They curate and create what their audience and brand partners want in their personal studios, with selfie-sticks, webcams, and Twitch streams. They live to capture content that they then own and can sell to interested brands.

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Creators without content

In sports, athletes… rarely have that. First and foremost, athletes are athletes. They live to perform. But there’s a big opportunity. Athletes have an entire industry that is equipped with the best content production in the world. Without ever taking a selfie, athletes are being captured on camera every day. From the time they walk-in the stadium to the post-game interview, their personality and athletic prowess is on full display.

Sports publishers and properties are capturing and creating incredible athlete-centric content, but the problem remains – the true creators of the content still don’t have access to it.

Solving the problem

But the problem is being attacked. Many of the top leagues and teams in sports are finding ways to get more moments in back in the athlete’s hands. Tens of thousands of athletes are using tools that help them take that content from the phone to the feed.

Building this movement matters. It matters to athletes who want to maximize opportunities beyond the field of play. It matters to properties and publishers who want to maximize content and connection with fans. It matters to brands who need an accessible, reliable path to executing athlete-driven campaigns. It even matters to fans, who want to see more moments from the faces who have our allegiance and loyalty.

When these moments hit the athlete’s feed, they’re more powerful, more engaging, and more likely to drive real outcomes – they’re maximized. And when moments are maximized, everybody wins.

The world where social media is the playbook for sports.

See how the SM Sports industry uses athletes and social media to drive revenue outcomes.

Sports Marketing

In-stadium, at a sports bar, or in your Twitter feed – sports provide a communal experience. In this resource, we’ll explore the connection between brands, marketers, athletes, and their mission to reach and impact fans.

Social Media Marketing

For sports marketers, social media is critical to their omni-channel approach. With a more personal approach, social has become a key, effective method to reach and engage fans and audiences.


Endorsements and influencer marketing are often one-in-the-same in sports. The script has been flipped for endorsements in the social media era. We break down how online influence is more accessible than ever before.

Want athletes to publish your posts?

Athletes can be a marketer’s superhero on social media. Start building your athlete-driven campaign today.