Maximizing social media and the power of digital to promote your sponsors
Editor’s Note: This is the third article in ATV.com’s three-part series about ATV and UTV racing sponsorship. This article looks at the importance of social media for racers and how to take advantage of the digital age to promote your sponsors.
In our attempt to educate and inform racers on how to effectively reach out and solicit support from industry companies, we’ve covered a lot of ground. In Part 1 we looked at the current economics of racing sponsorship and what sponsors are looking for from their racers. In Part 2 we broke down how to ask for support the right way and get yourself recognized. Now we turn our attention to execution.
In this digital age it is easier to connect and engage with companies and potential sponsors than ever before. Merely logging into a social media platform can potentially connect you with millions of users worldwide. This connectivity with the world around us has greatly influenced the way in which racers and companies interact with each other. Additionally, it has opened up more channels for sponsored athletes to actively promote the brands they represent to a watching world.
Despite our constant connectivity, there is a right way and a wrong way to use digital media to both bolster your presence online as well as effectively represent your sponsors. Learning how to make social media work for you and the companies you represent is a great way to stay on their radar and continue to receive support, even if your results on the track are less than celebratory.
Facebook is a necessary evil. As the most visited website on the internet and the most widely used social media site (for now), it’s a safe bet that any company you might end up sponsored by is active on Facebook. Because Facebook changes the way it allows companies to share and promote content so frequently, you the user have a tremendous opportunity to attract the attention of companies that you engage with.
You’ve probably noticed over the last year or so that your Facebook newsfeed has less of the content from pages you follow and a lot more advertisements. This is because Facebook has tightened up with it calls an algorithm, which is basically the brain that dictates what gets shared on Facebook and what does not. Facebook’s expectation is that companies must now pay in order to reach followers that have already raised their hand and said, “Hey, I like this page. I want to be kept in the loop with what they post.”
This is where you come in. The one thing that continues to help companies get their content out in front of their audience without having to pay to promote it is the level of engagement that it receives. By engagement, we mean the number of likes, comments or shares that a particular photo or status update receives. Companies that are doing social media well are paying attention to what type of content is getting the most engagement. Not only that, but you can be sure that they are paying close attention to who is engaging with that content.
You can also be proactive by tagging your sponsors in posts of your own. This can have two beneficial outcomes for you. First, it shows that company that you are actively promoting it on your own. Secondly, if that company or brand really likes your photo, it might in turn share it on its page, thus getting your name and image out in front of a much larger audience.
Despite the constant changes, companies continue to be active on Facebook and more than ever, they need dedicated followers to help them promote and share their content with the masses. Become a raving fan for the companies that sponsor you and we promise they will take notice.
Instagram is hot right now. Most online marketers suggest it is the most popular social media right now because, unlike Facebook, users and companies alike are able to reach their entire audience with the content that they post. Instagram is equally powerful because it is 100% image driven and as we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words.
People who are winning the Instagram game are regularly posting quality images of their machine, pit and the components that they use. You don’t want to be overly sales-ish in every post, but simply tagging your sponsors gets their name in front of your viewers while at the same time, notifies the sponsors that you’ve posted a picture of their product.
Instagram allows two methods of tagging other users in a post. One is by actually tagging a username in the photo, which will send a notification to the user letting them know that someone has tagged them in a picture. While it is good to notify a sponsor that you tagged it, unless your followers tap on the photo to view all the tags, it doesn’t get the company’s name in front of your followers.
The more effective means of tagging sponsors is by mentioning their username in the caption of the photo. This method will notify the company that it was mentioned in a comment, but also allows anyone who follows you to see the names of companies that you represent. This is the most effective way to promote companies and brands on Instagram. Just like with Facebook, tagging a company does two things; it shows that you’re being proactive in marketing it, but if your photo is exceptionally good, the company might just regram or repost it on its account, pushing you and your image in front of potentially thousands of followers. GoPro does that every day with its “Photo of the day” and its audience is currently 5.3 million strong. That would be a lot of eyes on your picture.
Lastly, use hashtags effectively. Hashtags are individual words or short phrases in the caption that are prefaced with the “#” sign. When you include a hashtag on your post, your image is then linked to a separate gallery where hundreds or even thousands of other images with the same hashtag can be seen. As a means of getting more reach for your image, use popular hashtags that have to do with your photo. Some popular ones might be #ATVracing #GNCC #UTVracing #PolarisRZR #Yamaha, etc. You should also regularly check your sponsors’ images and include any dedicated hashtags that they’ve created. Most companies are checking their own hastags to see what other Instagram users are including their hashtag and that’s a great way to show them you are trying to get as much reach on your photos as possible.
We can’t talk about social media without at least giving Twitter a mention, but despite being one of the big three social media sites, it seems the ATV crowd has kind of fizzled out on Twitter. While we’ve seen some athletes make use of it in recent years and historically it was a great place to tag, promote and interact with sponsors, as of late, it seems like most people’s Twitter feeds are filled with images pushed over from Facebook or Instagram.
The best advice for using social media to effectively promote your sponsors is to be active where they are. Promote and engage with your sponsors on the platforms that they are active on and where you can have the greatest reach.
Curate Quality Content
During the application process, most racers include some statement about supplying regular race reports to keep sponsors informed of their results throughout the season. Somewhere between the application process and the drop of the first gate, that little clause seems to be forgotten and it’s commonplace for a company not to hear back from a sponsored racer until that racer needs something again.
Next to being active on social media, supplying a well written race report to each of your sponsors is one of the single best things you can do to both maintain a positive relationship with your sponsors. It also creates more exposure for you. These days, companies are starving for good content to post on their websites and share on social media, but most don’t have the time to create that content. Racers who supply quality content by way of race reports, photos and video edits are very likely to get additional promotion from their sponsors because the companies can use this content as a part of their own marketing and they don’t have to take the time to create it.
Someone is Always Watching
As our world becomes increasingly more connected, it’s important to realize that what you post online speaks volumes about your character. Sponsors want to work with people who conduct themselves professionally both at the track and also online. Right, wrong or indifferent, an individual’s social media profiles typically give an accurate picture of how that person will promote a sponsor. Vulgar language, negative rants and explicative images don’t typically sit well with companies trying to maintain a professional image, so use caution when posting potentially controversial things online.
The Internet is an incredible tool to maintain connectivity, promote products and get your name out in front of other people. Use it to your advantage by letting others see how well you represent yourself and the companies you work with. You’ll be amazed how eager people will be to work with you.