Are athletes using social media to its full potential?

Great article (“Sites to behold: Many high-profile athletes have embraced the Web as a way to connect with fans and raise their profiles, but others haven’t yet clicked with the Internet“) by Tod Leonard in the San Diego Union-Tribune…

I agree with his position that athletes and sports personalities have only scratched the surface of the possibilities the internet holds for their careers and their brands. It allows for fan engagement far deeper than any traditional fan club, autograph session, or other established forms of marketing. And some athletes are definitely doing it much better than others!

Athletes and their representatives need to remember that just having a web site doesn’t cut it. I think having a poorly designed, non-user-friendly site with bad content may actually hurt an athlete’s image, making him or her look out of touch. More importantly, fans aren’t going to consistently visit a site that is never updated. Athletes may be better off with no web presence at all if they’re not going to commit to doing it well. Leonard mentions LaDainian Tomlinson – arguably one of the biggest NFL names -having an outdated official web site. Perhaps L.T. listened? When I navigated to the first item in a Google search, www.ladainiantomlinson.com, it goes to a blank page with “Coming Soon” at the top.
Chris Cooley logo merchandise

Chris Cooley logo merchandise

Take for example Washington Redskins TE Chris Cooley… his popularity and name recognition have gone up exponentially due to his well-maintained blog, which has enabled him to grow the Chris Cooley brand. He even has a logo now and merchandise for sale.
Chris Cooley knows what others will hopefully soon realize: fans crave real information about their favorite athletes. Things like the Cooleys decorating the house for Christmas, that Tiger Woods’ daughter Sam was a tiger for Halloween, and Shaq asking his Twitter followers whether he should eat at Schlotsky’s or Subway for lunch, are the types of details that make athletes “real”. Sometimes fans can forget that athletes and celebrities are people too!
Athletes reaching out to fans online, especially via social media, converts fans into advocates and advocates into brand evangelists.

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