Ex-Evening Standard social media editor reveals key mistakes footballers make online

If you’re a professional footballer and want to be successful on social media, you should avoid “becoming a walking advert” and always “read the room” when posting content.

A robust online presence is essential for sportspeople and their brand. Still, according to former Evening Standard Head of Social Sally Biddall, they continue to make crucial mistakes.

Biddall, who now runs her consultancy firm, warned of pitfalls, including partnering with the wrong sponsor. 

“It’s totally understandable that footballers (influencers) would grab any commercial partnership with both hands (particularly at the start of the career) – they can be incredibly lucrative,” she told Player Impact. 

“The problem is, they often lose sight of why they have followers in the first place. 

“People are interested in their lives and their career, and can very quickly see through their promos.

“It’s absolutely crucial for influencers to be authentic – and this means giving their followers content they are genuinely interested in, connecting with them on a human level and not simply seeing them as a walking pound sign.”

Player Impact helps footballers with social media content, strategy and execution – contact us here.

Football fans social media
Social media has transformed how sportspeople communicate with their fans. (Tembela Bohle)

Biddall, who previously worked at the Telegraph and Metro.co.uk, also cautions against posting content that is not sensitive to the audience and uses the example of influencers who travelled to Dubai during the coronavirus lockdown in the UK.

She added: “It’s also really important to ‘read the room’ and not to get caught up in simply ‘being an influencer/ creator’ – I think we’ve all seen how this can backfire in recent times with influencers heading to Dubai in a pandemic. 

“If someone is following you as an individual, remember who you’re creating this content for and why you started in the first place. 

“Influencers need to be as relatable to their audience as possible, without being patronising. At the very least, don’t forget the bigger picture when posting.”

Biddall said footballers could best serve their audience by helping to bring change to societies. 

She said: “I think everyone with a platform has the responsibility to add something positive to the world. 

“This doesn’t mean blindly sharing online activist posts without doing research of course, but it’s important to remember the impact you can have. 

“Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) is a fantastic example of this.”

Read more: Former Chelsea, Spurs and Ipswich Academy players reveal how COVID has affected search for new team

Footballer social media Instagram
Footballers should remain authentic to their fans (Israel França)

Biddall also warned social media can be “dangerous territory” for footballers in terms of abuse and they should always protect themselves. 

She added: “As much as there has been a crackdown on trolling (or at least, we’re more aware of it), we must remember that celebs are human. 

“This is why it’s important for influencers to have clear boundaries and have a solid team around them. 

“This ensures they can have that wonderful dialogue with fans, but also protect their mental health at the same time.”

But Biddall reiterated the importance of social media for footballers and how it has given them a crucial communication tool.

She said: “In recent years, social media has really transformed how sportspeople communicate with their fans. 

“Previously, getting to know a celeb would always be framed by whoever was interviewing them – and these are shaped by what particular message those media outlets wanted to share. 

“With the rise of social media, people in the public eye can really tell the story they want to. 

“It’s actually incredible that celebs can connect with their fanbase in real-time at the click of a button.” 

Biddall helps clients “to harness social media to boost their brand” and her website can be found here.

Read more: Top tips for footballers to gain Instagram followers

Read more: Welcome to the new Player Impact website

Player Impact helps footballers with social media content, strategy and execution. 

Social media is a critical tool in any player or club’s arsenal. We will break down what our clients need to do to grow their audience and make their accounts more attractive to sponsors and customers.

This includes advice on choosing the correct bio, posting content, writing captions, including hashtags, driving engagement through comments and utilising direct messages, video messages, voice notes and stories.

Get in touch with our team by emailing us at here

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