“I’m Not Social Media Famous, Why Will Brands Want to Partner With Me?”

A phrase we are sure many an athlete has uttered, especially in the wake of the recent NIL laws that have gone into effect in various states allowing college athletes to accept social media endorsements from corporate brands.

We’re going to show you all the reasons why many brands actually prefer to work with athletes who aren’t social media famous— although we prefer to refer to them as “micro-influencers”— and how you can use Icon Source to find these brands and start signing deals today.

What is a Micro-Influencer, and How Many Followers Does a Micro-Influencer Have?

A micro-influencer is defined as someone who has anywhere from 1,000-10,000 followers. As companies have realized the power and reach of social media marketing, they have started to contact more athletes with smaller followings because of the advantages these athletes provide them over utilizing other methods of marketing.

An athlete seeking sponsorship who has a smaller following oftentimes has a better chance of landing a sponsorship deal with a brand, and here are some reasons why:

Why Athletes with Smaller Followings Can (And Do) Land Brand Deals

They are Passionate and Authentic
2021 saw over 4.48 billion people use social media, and with it has come the rise of social media marketing.

As the popularity of social media has become indisputable, companies are beginning to take a different approach to marketing on these platforms, as they seek out athletes with smaller followings to harness the power of geo-targeted campaigns and knowledge of their target audiences. And they know that these athletes with smaller followings also have more loyal followings, seeing as it is a smaller group of individuals who probably feel a little closer to the athlete.

This means that if a company were to partner with an athlete that has this type of following, they will have invested in a more authentic partnership, and that endorsement deal will result in more conversions for them because their product or brand will have been promoted by an athlete to a group of people who inherently trust their recommendations more.

They Have Stellar Engagement
This valuable aspect of any micro-influencing athlete seeking sponsorship goes hand-in-hand with the authentic relationships micro-influencers have with their followers. On average, micro-influencers spend more time responding to their followers and have up to a 60% increase in engagement rate compared to mega-influencers.
More specifically, TikTok micro-influencers have an 18% engagement rate whereas mega-influencers on the platform have an engagement rate of below 5%. These engagement rates are incredibly attractive to companies, as engagement rates are indicators of trust and therefore the potential conversion rates of a partnership with an athlete seeking sponsorship.

They Have a Great ROI
As it turns out, athletes with smaller followings can actually be of more value to a brand than athletes with huge followings. Brands that reach out to athlete social media profiles with 1,000-10,000 followers actually end up in more of a win-win situation than those that work with mega-influencers: By signing contracts with these athletes, they can reach a more targeted audience, and their marketing efforts don’t cost nearly as much as an independent ad campaign or an endorsement of a macro-influencer would.
But what does the athlete get out of an agreement of this type?

They feel empowered by entering into a relationship with a brand that makes them feel valued, they are compensated for their efforts, and they have another way to engage with and give recommendations to their followers.

Small-time pro athletes with micro-influencer-sized followings have been able to enter into these types of deals with businesses for a while. June 2021 brought the legalization of the collegiate NIL deal, meaning college-age athletes can now sign deals with companies just like their pro counterparts have been doing for decades. They are the newest group of these micro-influencers, and they are only just beginning to create the newest market niche of sports endorsement revenue.

Icon Source: A Place to Find a Brand that Wants to Work with You

The best way to land a deal with a brand if you are an athlete seeking sponsorship who doesn’t have a huge following? Make yourself known to as many brands as possible.

And there’s no better way to do that than on Icon Source’s online marketplace. Athletes sign up for free, create a profile detailing their interests and price, and have instant browsing access to hundreds of brands open to endorsing an athlete seeking sponsorship. Athletes can reach out to brands who interest them in order to start a conversation around entering into a deal.

Have any questions? Reach out to us here at Icon Source. We are a team of past athletes that want to create the best possible opportunities for all athletes to take advantage of the power of their social media and sports marketing, and we look forward to seeing athletes excel in the world of social media endorsements and athlete social media.
Drew Butler

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