Leveraging Social Media Influencers in Sports Marketing

One of the most powerful ways to connect with fans and promote brands is through social media influencers. These are people who have a large and loyal following on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, and who can influence their audience’s opinions and behaviors. 

Imagine seeing your favorite athlete not only on the field, but also on your phone screen, sharing their personal stories and recommending the best products. This is the magic of influencers in sports. They can bring the game closer to the fans, create a sense of community, and generate excitement and loyalty. 

In this article, we will explore how social media influencers can help sports brands to achieve their marketing goals. 

The Rise of Social Media Influencers in Sports

Social media platforms have become an integral part of the sports industry, as they offer new ways for fans to connect with their favorite athletes, teams, and sports personalities, adds Saba Mobebpour, CEO at SPOCKET

Let’s explore the rise of social media influencers in sports, and how they impact on sports marketing.

Overview of Social Media Platforms

Source: Oberlo

Still need to explain what social media platforms are? We don’t think so. Around 4.48 billion people are active on these platforms, and this figure is still increasing, as shown in the above image. It is expected that around 5.58 billion will use social media, or maybe even more, by 2027.

But if you’re still unaware, let’s talk.

Social media platforms are online services that allow users to create and share content, such as photos, videos, text, and audio, with other users or the public. Some of the most popular social media platforms for sports are.


A photo and video sharing app that has over 2.35 billion monthly active users, and is widely used by athletes, teams, and sports media outlets to showcase their lifestyles, behind-the-scenes moments, and highlights. Instagram also features stories, reels, and live videos, which enable users to create and watch short-form and interactive content. 


A microblogging and social networking service that allows users to post and interact with messages, known as tweets, that are limited to 280 characters. Twitter has over 528.3 million monthly active users, and is a popular platform for sports fans to follow live updates, commentary, and opinions on sports events and topics. Twitter also features fleets, spaces, and moments, which allow users to share ephemeral, audio, and curated content. 


A short-form video sharing app that has over 1 billion monthly active users, and is especially popular among younger generations. TikTok allows users to create and watch videos that are up to 60 seconds long, with various effects, filters, music, and sounds. TikTok is a fast-growing platform for sports content, as it enables users to showcase their skills, challenges, humor, and creativity. 


A video sharing and streaming platform that has over 2.7 billion monthly active users, and is the largest online video platform in the world. YouTube allows users to upload, watch, comment, and subscribe to videos of various genres, lengths, and formats. YouTube is a dominant platform for sports content, as it offers users access to live and on-demand sports broadcasts, highlights, interviews, documentaries, and original shows. 

Growth of Social Media Influencer in Sports Marketing

Source: Smart Insights

Social media influencers are individuals who have a large and loyal following on social media platforms, and who can influence their audience’s opinions, behaviors, and preferences. Lara Jansen, Marketing Expert at Paedatric First Aid Courses, said, “Social media influencers in sports are usually athletes, former athletes, coaches, journalists, commentators, or fans, who share their expertise, insights, stories, and passions about sports with their online communities.”

The growth of social media influencers in sports can be attributed to several factors, such as.

  • The increased accessibility and affordability of smartphones and internet, which enable users to create and consume sports content anytime and anywhere.
  • The increased demand and preference for authentic, engaging, and personalized sports content, which social media influencers can provide better than traditional media outlets.
  • The increased trust and credibility that social media influencers have among their followers, especially among younger generations, who tend to value peer recommendations over advertisements.
  • The increased opportunities and incentives that social media influencers have to monetize their content and collaborate with brands, teams, and organizations, who recognize the value and potential of influencer marketing.

Let’s talk about the impact of social media influencers. 

Impact of Social Media Influencers on Sports Marketing

The impact of social media influencers on sports marketing can be seen in various ways, such as. 

  • Increasing the awareness and interest of fans in sports, especially in niche or emerging sports, by exposing them to diverse and appealing content.
  • Increasing the loyalty and retention of fans in sports, by creating a sense of community and connection with other fans and influencers.
  • Increasing the participation and involvement of fans in sports, by inspiring them to try new sports, improve their skills, or join online and offline activities and events.
  • Increasing the revenue and growth of brands, teams, and organizations in sports, by generating positive word-of-mouth, driving traffic and conversions, and enhancing brand image and reputation.

3 Best Strategies for Leveraging Social Media Influencers in Sports Marketing

Leveraging social media influencers in sports marketing can be a highly effective strategy for brands that want to reach and engage with sports lovers, especially in niche or emerging sports, shares Eran Mizrahi, CEO of Ingredient Brothers.  

So, let’s find out how you can leverage social media influencers in sports marketing.

  1. Identify Influencers That Fit the Brand’s Personality and Purpose

The first step in leveraging social media influencers in sports marketing is to identify the influencers that fit the brand’s personality and purpose. This means finding influencers who have a relevant and authentic connection to the sport, the brand, and the target audience, adds Martin Seeley, CEO of Mattress Next Day.  

For example, a brand that sells running shoes would want to work with influencers who are runners themselves, or who have a strong interest in running. A brand that targets young and urban consumers would want to work with influencers who have a similar demographic and lifestyle. 

To identify the right influencers, brands can use various tools and methods, such as:

  • Searching for keywords and hashtags related to the sport, the brand, or the audience on social media platforms, and looking at the profiles and content of the users who use them.
  • Using influencer marketing platforms or agencies that can help brands find and connect with influencers who match their criteria and objectives.
  • Analyzing the influencer’s audience size, engagement rate, content quality, tone, and sentiment, and comparing them with the brand’s goals and expectations.
  • Asking for referrals or recommendations from other influencers, customers, or partners who have worked with or know the influencer. 
  1. Negotiate Contracts and Expectations With the Influencers

Another way in leveraging social media influencers in sports marketing is to negotiate contracts and expectations with the influencers. This means establishing clear and realistic goals, deliverables, timelines, and compensation for the influencer campaign, shares Tia Campbell, Director of Marketing at Practice Reasoning Tests.  

For example, a brand would need to specify how many posts, stories, videos, or live streams the influencer needs to create. And what platforms and hashtags they need to use, what messages and calls to action they need to include, and how they will measure and report the results. A brand would also need to agree on how much they will pay the influencer, whether in cash, products, or other incentives, adds Casey Meraz, Founder & CEO of Juris Digital

To negotiate effectively, brands can use the following tips and best practices:

  • Do some research on the influencer’s previous campaigns, rates, and performance, and use them as a benchmark for the negotiation.
  • Be transparent and honest about the brand’s budget, goals, and expectations, and listen to the influencer’s feedback and suggestions.
  • Be flexible and respectful of the influencer’s creative freedom, style, and voice, and avoid being too controlling or restrictive.
  • Use a written contract or agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the collaboration, and review it carefully before signing it.
  1. Manage the Quality and Consistency of the Content

The third step is to manage the quality and consistency of the content. This means ensuring that the influencer’s content is aligned with the brand’s image, tone, and message, and that it follows the guidelines and regulations of the platforms and the industry. 

For example, a brand would need to ensure that the influencer’s content is relevant, engaging, and accurate, and that it discloses the sponsorship or partnership with the brand. Martynas Žvirblis, Manager at VPSForexTrader, shares, “A brand would need to ensure that the influencer’s content does not violate any rules or policies of the social media platforms, or any laws or ethics of the sports industry.”

To manage the quality and consistency of the content, brands can use the following tips and best practices:

  • Communicate regularly and clearly with the influencer, and provide feedback and support throughout the campaign.
  • Monitor and track the influencer’s content, and measure its performance and impact using metrics and tools.
  • Encourage and appreciate the influencer’s efforts, and reward them for their achievements and results.
  • Handle any issues or problems that may arise during the campaign, such as negative comments, complaints, or controversies, in a timely and professional manner.

Challenges and Considerations in Sports Influencer Marketing

Sports influencer marketing comes with some challenges and considerations that brands need to be aware of and address. Here are some of the main ones.

Maintaining Authenticity

One of the primary challenges in sports influencer marketing is the delicate balance of maintaining authenticity. As influencers collaborate with brands, there is a risk of diluting the genuine connection they have with their audience. 

Jonathan Rosenfeld, Founder & Attorney at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, said, “Brands must ensure that influencers retain their unique voice, personal style, and credibility.” 

Striking this balance requires careful collaboration, allowing influencers the creative freedom to endorse products while staying true to their authentic selves. Failing to do so can lead to a loss of trust among followers and diminish the overall effectiveness of the marketing campaign.

Dealing with Potential Controversies

In the era of instant information sharing, influencers are under constant scrutiny — making them susceptible to controversies. Sports brands engaging with influencers must be vigilant in assessing an influencer’s past behavior and public image to mitigate potential risks. 

Controversies, if not handled promptly and transparently, can tarnish both the influencer and the associated brand. Implementing thorough vetting processes and crisis management strategies is imperative to navigate these challenges and uphold the positive reputation of both the influencer and the brand, adds Ritika Asrani, Owner and Broker of Century21 St Maarten Real Estate

Compliance with Advertising Regulations

The landscape of influencer marketing is subject to evolving regulations, and adherence to advertising guidelines is paramount. Sports brands must collaborate with influencers who understand and comply with disclosure requirements to maintain transparency with their audience. 

Emily Rapoza, Marketing Manager at Library Science Degrees Online, shares, “Regulatory bodies often scrutinize influencer partnerships for adherence to truth-in-advertising standards. Failing to comply with these regulations can result in legal consequences and damage the reputation of both the influencer and the brand.” 

Impact of Platform Algorithm Changes

Social media platforms frequently update their algorithms, affecting the visibility and reach of content. Sports brands relying on influencer marketing must adapt to these changes to ensure the continued success of their campaigns. 

Algorithm updates can influence the discoverability of influencer content, potentially impacting engagement and return on investment. Continuous monitoring of platform changes and agile adjustments to marketing strategies are necessary to navigate these fluctuations and maintain the effectiveness of sports influencer campaigns in an ever-evolving digital landscape.


Leveraging social media influencers in sports marketing offers a dynamic and powerful avenue for brands to connect with sports enthusiasts. This strategy, involving collaboration with influential figures in the sports industry, presents an effective means of reaching niche or emerging sports audiences. 

Remember, you need careful planning, execution, and management, as it involves working with people who have their own opinions, styles, and voices, and who may face various issues or problems during the campaign. By selecting the right influencers, managing expectations, and addressing potential controversies, brands can build trust and credibility with their target audience, generate positive word-of-mouth, and enhance their brand image and reputation. 

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