10 Ways To Partner With Student-Athlete Creators
College athletes are selling the rights to their name, image, and likeness (NIL) thanks to a June 2021 law that permits them to make a profit from themselves. College athletes weren’t previously allowed to earn an income from monetizing their social media presence as influencers do, as it had violated NCAA policy.
But now, many students are parlaying their college athletic careers with high-paying brand partnerships. It’s a market that is experiencing rapid growth, with experts from Opendorse anticipating that spending will reach over $1.1B in 2023. And for individual athletes, the increase in partnership opportunities is noteworthy as well. According to the athlete content platform, INFLCR, college football players are securing 179% more transactions on average in the second year of NIL policy changes.
If you’re a brand looking to expand into college athlete partnerships, you might be asking: where do you start? Keep reading for ten ideas to kick-start your next NIL campaign strategy.
How To Incorporate Student-Athlete Creators Into Your Influencer Marketing Strategy
1. Make them a cornerstone of your ambassador campaign
Ambassador programs are a great tactic for brands to leverage to drive sales and grow brand awareness, all while unlocking a new audience. It’s the best way to establish a strong relationship that could last several months or even years. Consider negotiating a long-term contract with a college athlete so they can join your ambassador program and support your brand through multiple activations.
2. Provide athletes with a tracking code to drive affiliate purchases
For brands that don’t yet have an ambassador program established, affiliate marketing adds extra benefit to existing brand partnerships. Give your athlete creators an exclusive, trackable promo code to add to their content. Not only does this let you gain insight into which content is performing best, but it also helps the creator earn a little extra cash.
3. Ask them to provide a rating or review for your brand
Ratings and reviews are proven to positively sway consumers and are vital to shopper research. If a student-athlete is a longtime fan of your brand and has a history of hyping up your products, consider asking them for a testimonial.
4. Ask them to host a live broadcast
Live shopping and streamed events have been being incorporated into content strategies at a higher rate than ever before. Live video content is engaging and exciting for audiences, especially when it centers around a name they know. Asking a college athlete to participate in a live broadcast — especially around one that focuses on a product demonstration — is a fun and unique way to activate creators.
5. Invite them to attend and promote an event hosted by your brand
If live video isn’t part of your strategy yet, try hosting an in-person event instead. Seminars, cocktail hours, networking events, launch events, meet & greets, and more are always made better when an exciting creator partner is there!
6. Source athletes with non-sports, niche interests
For many athlete-creators, sports-centric content and partnerships are natural fits. But for others, non-sports industries have content needs that may fit with these creators’ off-field interests. LSU’s Olivia Dunne, for example, is the sixth-highest earner among all collegiate athletes with a $2.6M valuation from brand partnerships alone. Some of the brands she works with include Forever 21, Vuori Clothing, Too Faced Cosmetics, Grubhub, and more.
7. Let them run an account takeover with your brand
Speaking of human interest content – who doesn’t love a behind-the-scenes look into someone’s life? Work with college athletes to launch a takeover on one of your branded social channels, like Instagram or TikTok. Or, have them host an “ask me anything” (AMA) segment to interact with fans on an even more personal level.
8. Plan ahead for a holiday campaign
It may not be the peak shopping season right now, but it’s never too early to get planning for the holiday rush. Making a college athlete the foundation of your holiday-centric campaigns ahead of time helps get timelines and touchpoints solidified while leaving room for any potential challenges that might pop up. If your brand wants to try something more complex or out-of-the-box, that extra time will help.
9. Activate creators during an awareness month
We love seeing influencers advocating for things they care about. If your brand feels strongly toward a shared cause or charitable organization, don’t be afraid to make a connection! When creators have an authentic passion for something near to their hearts — such as para-triathlon athlete Erin Brown — it shines brightly through their content. Not only is this apparent to audiences, but it’s also a humanizing way for brands to show they care.
10. Activate them at scale using a platform like Mavrck
One key to success is to work with an influencer marketing platform that can help you execute your ideas to their fullest potential. When you partner with a platform like Mavrck, you have access to a team of experts that will help your brand scale your influencer efforts — all while supporting your strategic goals. Get a demo today to see Mavrck in action!
Ready To Work With A Student-Athlete?
Now that we’ve sparked your curiosity, what ways can college athletes level up your influencer marketing program? Get those creative juices flowing with an influencer marketing campaign featuring the rising stars of college sports!
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