Social media is essential for any footballer, but many miss out on building a loyal following because they’re not taking full advantage of their online presence.
Former Evening Standard Head of Social Sally Biddall told Player Impact sportspeople should create engaging content to increase their audience.
She said researching your “competitors” was also important in expanding your reach online.
Biddall, 32, who now runs her consultancy firm, said: “Creating consistently good content that your audience engages with is the gold standard in terms of social media marketing.
“In terms of being an influencer or building your following, make sure you do an in-depth competitor analysis first.
“This doesn’t mean simply copying what others are doing, but it can also show you where there’s a gap in the market or how you can stand out.”
Player Impact helps footballers with social media content, strategy and execution – contact us here.
Biddall, who previously worked at the Telegraph and Metro.co.uk, also advised footballers to pay for adverts.
She added: “Paid social is also an important component in building a following; organic reach can only do so much.
“When it comes to paid social, you really do have to ensure you analyse the behaviour and needs of your core audience (and aspired audience).
“Creative ads are a great way to connect with your consumer base, but they need to be thoughtful. If possible, try to consider your particular niche or USP and lean into that.
“What makes you different from others? Why would someone come to your page rather than your competitor?”
We’ve put together a list of top tips that will help you grow your Instagram audience and make your accounts more attractive to sponsors.
The tips include choosing the correct biography, posting content, writing captions, hashtags, driving engagement and utilising direct messages, video messages, voice notes and stories.
This advice can be used successfully by all sportspeople and clubs, from those with a lower profile to the world’s most prominent organisations.
If you need further help, please contact us here at Player Impact and together we can grow your social media accounts.
The bio can be the first thing people see, so it’s a good idea to optimise this as much as possible so that people understand what to expect from your account.
Use the first line to sum up exactly who you are, what you’re doing and how you’re adding value to someone’s feed. Any extra space you have can be used to draw attention to details like a fun fact about you or something that builds authority like any side business you may have.
For growth, it’s important to be posting regularly, so you’ll need to decide on a schedule that works for you and feels manageable. At least three to five posts a week is a good target to hit if you’re just starting.
As a general rule, it is better to upload portrait photos as these seem to be promoted by Instagram’s algorithm when it comes to the posts themselves. Square posts are also useful, but landscape images generally don’t appear to perform as well.
Always make sure to fill in the alt text too, so you’re getting in front of even more users and always put a location tag for the same reason.
Coming back to the idea of trying to keep people in the app as long as possible, a more extended caption will take longer to read, and there is also potential to get more in there that followers might relate to so you’re also creating more opportunities for engagement as you might write a line that resonates with someone and encourage more thoughtful comments.
You want to use a range of hashtags of different sizes to grab as many opportunities to be seen as possible.
The maximum number of hashtags Instagram will let you put on a post is 30, but if you’re regularly using the maximum, you may be flagged as spam and have your account punished, so you reach fewer people. The most I would recommend using is 25 per post.
The next thing to know about hashtags is that if you regularly use all the same ones, that is another reason why Instagram might suspect your account is spamming. The way to get around this is to draft some hashtag groups.
Driving engagement – comments
Instagram values accounts that can keep users in the app longest, there are a few things that can be done to encourage engagement which shouldn’t take too much time.
Avoid putting basic comments and instead take a bit more time to make them more thoughtful and relevant to the post, perhaps even asking questions to encourage conversation. Read the captions and see if there is anything to respond to, or make a joke about something in the picture. It feels more sincere. Also, go on the accounts following people with audiences similar to yours and comment on their posts and reply to other comments. You can even send a DM to any accounts like this that resonate with you to make sure you’re on their radar.
You also want to respond to as many comments on your posts as possible, again trying to be more thoughtful. Another good tactic for comments on your posts is to go back and like comments on your last post every time you post something new. That way, people who have previously engaged with your account get a notification and may go back to your account and see your new post.
DMs – voice notes and video messages
A trick that can work well and again isn’t too time-consuming, is to send a video message or voice note to new followers. You might not want to do this to all your followers but definitely accounts you want to be associated with and emulate.
This then tells Instagram that this must be someone you are familiar with because not many people would go straight in with a video or voice note, which again can bump you higher up their feed and keeps people in the app longer.
Generally, people feel flattered to have been reached out to in such a personal way as well, and it leaves them feeling positive with your account and more likely to engage in the future.
This is something you can do for five minutes each day, going through a few new followers and picking some to send a voice note or video message to.
You want it to be personal and not generic so say something you like about their account or make a joke, thank them for following you and give them an idea of what to expect from your account.
Post on your stories regularly. People are more likely to respond to stories with DMs, and if you become an account regularly posting engaging content on your stories, they’re more likely to engage with your other content too.
Use your stories to interact with your followers, ask questions, use polls and all the features that allow them to get involved.
If you’re posting videos of you talking, bear in mind that for most people stories start muted so summarise what is being said in text on screen.