When you think of athlete influencer marketing, the first social platforms that come to mind are probably Instagram and YouTube. Maybe Facebook, Twitter, and now TikTok as well.
Odds are that you didn’t think of LinkedIn.
And why would you? LinkedIn doesn’t crack the list of top five influencer marketing channels. But the networking platform is quickly evolving.
Originally established as a unique social channel for business professionals, the platform has primarily been utilized as a recruitment and job searching tool. However, the rapid growth of LinkedIn in the digital age has resulted in much higher competition for companies that want to catch the eye of valuable business partners and prospective team members but lack an active audience.
We’re going to take a deep dive into the world of athlete influencer marketing on LinkedIn and how the platform can be leveraged by brands and athletes alike.
For brands and businesses, partnering with influencers can be a game-changer for your growth strategy. LinkedIn influencer marketing entails establishing partnerships with LinkedIn members that are relevant in your industry and have a large following/network. These influencers don’t have to be experts in the field, but that will be a nice bonus when it comes to strengthening credibility.
LinkedIn is filled with millions of B2B professionals looking to connect and learn from each other—many of whom are key decision-makers at their company. LinkedIn is the top channel for lead generation for 42.4% of B2B marketers. This is an exciting statistic, but it also highlights the difficulty of cutting through the noise.
To stand out, you need a solid, consistent plan that spans months, and even then, there’s no guarantee that works.
A safer option? Turn to people who have already built a strong following on the network.
LinkedIn influencers often position themselves as experts in niche industries, allowing them to build a network of people interested and invested in these industries. But what about athlete influencers?
Athletes have made a home on LinkedIn as well in recent years. Take retired hall of fame footballer Emmitt Smith, for example, who has garnered over 20,000 followers on his profile and runs multiple business ventures. But it’s not just retired players taking advantage of LinkedIn. According to data from LinkedIn Talent Insights, more than 11,000 professional athletes in the U.S. are active on LinkedIn. It turns out the platform could be a great place to connect with and run promotions between brands and athletes.
LinkedIn has continued to steadily grow its userbase, welcoming millions of new users every year. As of 2021, the platform had 756 million active users, and 37% of U.S. adults reportedly use LinkedIn.
Like many other social channels, LinkedIn is another platform with ample opportunity to reach gen-z and millennials. 60.1% of people aged 25 to 34 use LinkedIn, and this age group constitutes the largest age demographic of users.
The beauty of LinkedIn is that it not only allows you to get in front of a wider target audience, but also allows you to put yourself in front of business leaders and generate leads. There are 61 million senior-level influencers and 65 million decision-makers on LinkedIn. It’s also been reported that 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn.
Whether you’re an athlete looking to connect with brands or vice-versa, LinkedIn could very well play a part in kickstarting these relationships.
We’ve already discussed the utility of LinkedIn when it comes to networking. But once you make those connections with influencers on the platform, how do you monetize LinkedIn?
The easiest answer is running paid ads. Like every other social platform, LinkedIn will allow you to submit ads to be displayed to users as they scroll through the app or website. But aside from literally including pictures of athletes in your ads, this isn’t exactly influencer marketing.
The truth is, LinkedIn monetization is less about monetizing content and more about smart networking. Some of the ways athlete influencers can help promote your brand on LinkedIn include:
Remember (especially on LinkedIn), followers see influencers as a source of credibility. Rather than using athlete influencers solely as a vessel for your brand message, simply aligning and working with them on a public stage could be enough to lead an influencer’s followers to your brand profile. Authenticity is key on LinkedIn.
On the other end, how can athletes market themselves on LinkedIn? A lot of it comes down to building up a strong following, and the easiest way to do this is through shared interests.
Athletes can leverage their sports experience to build a following on LinkedIn. Marcus Peterson is a great example of how athletes can use the LinkedIn algorithm to build a sports-centric audience. The NFL wide receiver says he approaches LinkedIn the same way he does other social platforms, investing quite a bit of time posting content and engaging with his connections.
Once you’re able to build a decent following, LinkedIn can be a goldmine for connecting with brands. This doesn’t have to be limited to sponsored posts and endorsements either. LinkedIn is also a great place to discover business opportunities to invest in.
If you want to up your marketing game (on LinkedIn or any other social channel), Icon Source is a great place to start. Our platform merges brands and athletes in a central marketplace to help foster meaningful connections and facilitate endorsement deals.
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