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Which communication channels should you use?

Have you selected your audience and filled in the Audience Persona Template we shared with you? When you have defined your audience you know their demographics, interests, values, and struggles. In this blog we focus on the last part of the template – the communication channels.

In comparison to athletes active in the 20th century, or before for that matter, athletes nowadays have an incredible number of possibilities to connect with their audience. To start with the most traditional way, your audience will be watching you perform your sport live onsite. They are in the stands cheering for you or your team, visit practices and are asking for autographs and pictures. Previously they were concerned your biggest fans, although your biggest fans of Generation Z might have never even been in a stadium. So how do you reach those who you are not able to see in person?


Traditional media

First of all you reach them through traditional media, which include television, radio, and printed media. The good thing about this type of media is that it is distributed in mass and therefore has a huge reach. The stories are written by the media and their journalists, which means as an athlete you have less influence on the story around your person.


The impressions you give on and around the pitch will be interpreted and translated by these journalists. They tell your story and because they are based on their opinions, it might not always be the same story as you would have told yourself. This is a risk for your image and something an athlete should always be very aware of when being in front of a camera.


In women’s football the media attention is growing massively – with England clearly going first in Europe. This media attention is great for the commercial development of the game and brings opportunities for female footballers as well. Being aware of these traditional media channels and its stories will help athletes calculate their value when negotiating sponsorship deals and recognize opportunities to grow their personal brand.


Because you don’t have full control of your story, having good relationships with journalists will be beneficial, as well as being prepared for any media appearances. Digital media have been upcoming in the last decades and caused athletes even more difficulties to stay in control over their story, but it also provided new opportunities.



Digital Media

Anyone can share their opinion on the internet, also about you. These comments can be harmful for your reputation, and it is very difficult to respond to false allegations. Digital media can also achieve the opposite and give a huge boost to someone’s image. Through virality of content a positive message can reach millions of people and influence their perception of you!


On social media you can be in control of your own story and transmit your story in your words and/or images to the world. On your social platforms you can reach your audience directly and decide yourself which impression you will give. Since this is basically the only way you are 100% in control about the message, it is important to send the right message. To do that, you need to have clear who you are and what you want to communicate, but also know where you can find the audience for your message.


Depending on your target audience’s demographics, you will prefer one platform over another. Our advice is to choose several platforms and create specific content according to each user’s demographics and usage. At Valenze we guide athletes through this selection process to make the best choice for their personal brand. For today we give a general insight about the options, but don’t hesitate contacting us if you need individual assistance.


Comparing social channels

As an athlete you are a kind of influencer, even if you wouldn’t like to be one. Keeping this in mind, you should use social platforms where you can engage with people who are interested in you. For example, if your engaging audience is 35+, a platform where teenagers are the largest age group won’t make a lot of sense. Instead of investing in TikTok, you should probably be active on Facebook.


Facebook

So, let’s look at several platforms to get an idea where you can find your audience. Starting with Facebook, world’s biggest platform with almost 3 billion monthly active users. Even though the user growth rate has slowed down, through Facebook you can reach most people worldwide. The younger generations don’t have the same interest in Facebook anymore so if your target audience is younger than 25, you should probably switch to a different platform. Other interesting facts – the largest age group is 25-34 and in total Facebook has more male users than female users.


Instagram

Under the umbrella of Meta, Instagram is another highly successful platform, with 2 billion monthly active users. The last three years Instagram has doubled their user base and is therefore clearly a platform that will stay on the long-term. One might say that the youngest users have switched to TikTok already, but Gen Z and Millennials together make up roughly two-thirds of Instagram’s base, so if they are your audience, Instagram will work perfectly still. The largest age groups are 25-34 and 18-24, almost with the same percentages, which basically confirms the previous statement.


TikTok

Already mentioned before, TikTok’s popularity is increasing massively and already reached 1 billion monthly active users. This female dominated platform’s users spend on average almost 1,5 hours per day on TikTok, which is insane if you think about it. Active users on Instagram and Facebook in comparison spend daily around half an hour on their respective platform. If we look at TikTok’s largest age group, we see teenagers on top and therefore TikTok is rightfully the best platform to use when aiming at the youngest generation. Also, 40% of Gen Z say they are directly influenced by products they see on TikTok, which make influencers highly attractive for brands. Another reason for athletes to be on TikTok, isn’t it?


YouTube

Instagram and TikTok are purely focused on visual content, with short videos as most engaging content types. For longer videos, YouTube is the best platform, with more than 2 billion monthly active users. The network is very popular among younger users, with 15-35 as largest age group. Creating relevant content on YouTube is quite time-consuming, which is important to take into consideration when choosing to use this platform. If you have interest and time in making longer video content, on YouTube you can reach the audience who is interested in your niche.


Snapchat

With Elon Musk’s takeover, male dominated Twitter is maybe not the most logical platform to start on now. But if you already have a Twitter account and you are a frequent user of the platform, it might be a good tool to strengthen your personal brand. Twitter is mainly used to discuss events and gather breaking news, which makes it a perfect platform to share content and drive discussions. It would therefore work better for personal branding purposes than for influencer advertising. If you choose to use Twitter, don’t expect to receive sponsorships directly through this platform, but when using it wisely, you can use your voice extremely well and communicate about your personal values.


LinkedIn

LinkedIn is an interesting platform which has the reputation to be dominated by an older audience. With the largest age group being 25-34, it clearly isn’t TikTok, but it is definitely a platform to reach young professionals. Being used by many high-earning B2B professionals, LinkedIn is a platform every athlete should have an account on. For during the sports career, it is an ideal place to keep in touch with a professional network who has the money to invest in your career, while you also build a network for post-career job opportunities. Of course, content on LinkedIn is going to differ quite a lot from other social channels but being active on this platform should be a no-brainer.


Snapchat

With still several other popular social networks such as WhatsApp, Weixin, Douyin, Pinterest, Reddit and more to choose from, we would like to highlight one last network that could be interesting for athletes to use: Snapchat. It might not be as big and popular as TikTok for example but it is still widely used by a lot of young people, with age group 15-25 almost taking up to 50% of the user base. For athletes it is an interesting platform to give followers a more human insight about their day-to-day life, which is something sports followers crave for.


Takeaways for athletes

So, what are the main takeaways of today? First of all, social media is not the only way to reach your audience, but it is the most controllable way. For personal branding you should not forget about all other ways though. Secondly, not all social media channels are evenly interesting for you because of the different demographics of its users and the content type. Also, you don’t need to choose one – you can choose several. Adapt your communication and content to each channel to reach your audience in the best way. And if you need any help, you know your coaches of Valenze are very happy to help you out!



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