May 21, 2024

Athletes Can Win Hearts Through Instagram

By Jenna Tsuchida

Instagram, arguably one of the most popular social media platforms since the rise of the internet, has been an essential platform for people to connect. For athletes, it is important to take advantage of this social media site to reach a wider audience.

Usually, athletes are popular due to the popularity of the sport and the athletes’ abilities in their respective sport. This can be seen with professionals such as Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal soccer player) and Lebron James (USA basketball player). However, athletes can be also popular due to their influence on social media. For example, Braxton Berrios, a football player for the Miami Dolphins, was not well known until it was revealed he was dating Alix Earle, a popular influencer on TikTok.

However, this can be more difficult for athletes in lesser-known sports, such as kiteboarding.

Michaela Pilkenton, a 2017 University of Oregon alumni, is a professional kiteboarder. She has competed in various kiteboarding competitions globally and trained in locations like Cape Town, South Africa, and Le Barcarès, France. Pilkenton placed fourth in the world in 2022 and continues to rank among the top kiteboarders worldwide. Despite these achievements, Pilkenton is not well known, with only 2,868 followers on Instagram. This may be due to the recent discovery of kiteboarding. Thus, people are unaware of her and other kiteboarding athletes.

To grow her following, Pilkenton is constantly creating new content and trying to connect with others on social media. In addition to Instagram, she utilizes various social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok. Pilkenton’s posts mainly focus on kiteboarding, with tons of photos and videos of her on the water. She also includes content on body positivity and LGBTQIA+. However, she does not have much information on her personal life, only featuring photos of her partner, Kimmy Gustafson.

For athletes in the watersports/kiteboarding industry, a strategy to grow their Instagram following is to feature more content about their personal lives. One way to incorporate this is through “GRWM” (Get Ready With Me) Reels where athletes can talk about anything, from their plans for the day to basic questions to learn more about them. Another type of video athletes can feature in their social media is “A Day in My Life.” Since their day looks drastically different from those who are students or work corporate jobs, it would be interesting to get a taste of what their life looks like. These videos can be uploaded on Instagram and TikTok, reaching audiences on both platforms.

Another method to connect with others is to post travel content. Since athletes often travel to various countries to practice or compete, it would be interesting to see places recommended by them, i.e., local clothing businesses or high-end restaurants. These locations could cater to a wide audience (not just those interested in sports).

It can be difficult for athletes to find time to create new content specifically for social media. However, with the right help and strategy, one can grow their following and connect with others, eventually growing their brand.

Contact: [email protected] or Jenna Tsuchida on LinkedIn

6 thoughts on “Athletes Can Win Hearts Through Instagram

  1. Hi Jenna, I loved your blog. I enjoyed the images you chose for your blog. It drew me in. Kiteboarding seems like such a fun sport with a lot of potential growth strategies, I love what you have suggested. Posting travel content, day in the life or GRWM are all good looks into a kiteboarder’s life. I think collaborating with brands and looking for potential sponsorships could help her reach other audiences.

  2. Hello Jenna,

    Thank you for sharing Pilkenton’s story! I think it’s great to highlight athletes who compete in lesser-known sports (especially UO alumni). Great suggestions on how to grow her social media presence. In particular, I liked your cross-platform posting idea and the travel content idea. Both would help to grow her presence and help her create her social media identity.

  3. I loved reading this blog post. The photos included were really cool and this post made me want to learn more about kiteboarding. It was also interesting to learn more about how important social media is to athletes. This blog post definitely gives some good information on how athletes can go about expanding their social media.

  4. Hi Jenna, good post! I am always intrigued to see athletes become influencers. I think it gives a behind-the-scenes look at what their almost niche career is like. I would agree, that the best sports influencers are the ones who can connect to their audience. Posting more personal content is a great way to accomplish this.

  5. Hi Jenna,

    I enjoyed reading your blog post about Kiteboarding using social media platforms to increase people’s knowledge about the sport. I think it’s great that Michaela Pilkenton is smart for trying to connect with their audience by doing different trends like GRWM. This just shows that social media is just as important to athletes as to anyone else.

  6. Hi Jenna! I really appreciated your post as it’s difficult for athletes in niche sports to gain and maintain a following on social media. It can be difficult to identify the best platform, and your posts brings up a great point with Instagram!

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