With their popularity in social media, Olympic athletes are looking to have extended earnings from endorsements as they continue to have followers or fans in various social networking sites.
During the Games, a lot of athletes saw a heightened increase in earnings, but if they are able to extend their spotlight time after the games, their global brand endorsements can get them 50 million dollars annually, according to brokers endorsement deals company SponsorHub.
According to Ricky Simms, worldwide agent of Usain Bolt, the fastest man alive, and director at Pace Sports Management, said that “..brands always ask how many followers an athlete has. For many companies, this is the way they want to reach their target customers.”
Before social media, Olympic athletes quickly disappear from the public limelight after the games. Now, athletes can have extended fan connections through sharing videos, pictures, and messages.
Using Facebook and Twitter, top athletes such as Usain Bolt can post pictures and advertising messages from his sponsors. As an example, Bolt posted a refrigerator filled with Gatorade bottles to endorse the product.
On the other hand, at a certain period of time during the Olympics, athletes were not allowed to talk about their sponsors on social media websites, unless they had a special waiver. Only official sponsors were allowed, even those that independently supported Olympic athletes were kept from endorsing during that period.
As a result, it is expected that marketers will endorse athletes on a wide scale after the prohibition ends. Perhaps, a huge number of advertisements will congratulate winning athletes, and the athletes themselves will use social media sites to extend thanks to their sponsors.
Usain Bolt has 1.6 million Twitter followers and 8 million Facebook fans. His Twitter following has more than doubled from 620,000 before the games.
Bolt’s sponsors right now are Gatorade, Puma and Visa, but he plans to find more brands. In fact, the Jamaican runner has a brand new mobile game, and is looking to deliberate the use of his signature triumphant pose on various products.
In spite of this, not all athletes are expected to gain as much success after the Olympic Games. For example, while Gabby Douglas’, gymnastics gold medal winner from the U.S., Twitter following leaped from 29,000 to 654,000 during the Games, gymnastics is expected to lose popularity for the remainder of the year, and gymnasts tend to have short tenures.
Companies that will benefit most from Gabby Douglas’ success in the Olympics are those that have been endorsing her even before the Olympic Games, including Procter & Gamble.
According to Kevin Adler, Engage Marketing founder, “..there is no arguing that Gabby’s value as an endorser is exponentially more valuable now than it was when they signed her. If I am a creative and smart athlete agent, I would include bonus clauses that trigger financial incentives if social media audiences grow.”
Scoring Big on Facebook
On Facebook in particular, many top athletes now have more fans. According to a report by Wildfire, Gabrielle Douglas’ Facebook following increased by a whopping 3,944 percent during the Olympic games. Marcel Nguyen, another gymnast, also had an increase in following to 2,451 percent.
Moreover, the report mentions Automne Pavia, Camille Muffat and Steve Lewis as having the most engaging fans. This stat was based on the number of posts, comments and likes made by athletes that were shared by their fans.
Some countries also benefited from this increase in attention from Facebook. Because of Usain Bolt’s unprecedented success, Jamaica is getting lots of exposure. Switzerland is next in terms of Facebook exposure due to Roger Federer with 11 million Facebook fans. Third is Russia due to another tennis professional, Maria Sharapova who has close to 8 million fans on Facebook.
Compared to the 2008 Summer Olympics, this year’s Games had 9 times more users. This is mostly due to the fact that social media right now is more a part of our lives than four years ago. Furthermore, Wildfire reports that 96 percent of the top athletes had greater Facebook followings than on Twitter.