In 2016, research conducted by Twitter [now X] found that consumers seek recommendations from influencers almost as much as they do from friends.
An individual with a significant online presence that has an influence over their followers and can persuade them to make purchase decisions are known as ‘influencers’; using these individuals for marketing purposes is known as ‘influencer marketing’ and it is becoming an increasingly popular practice across several industries.
42% of marketers believe that influencer marketing offers a significant return on investment (ROI).
What benefits can influencer marketing have on the sports industry?
Sports personalities and athletes have usually grown a large community of followers due to their hard work ethic, and winning athletic performance. Often known for their attitudes to hard work and dedication to their sport – they embody a healthy lifestyle, body and mindset and usually inspire their following to adopt these same values.
With a large following both on and off the pitch, these individuals often have a highly engaged audience. Partnering with them increases the likelihood that your brand will be seen by your desired target audience. This partnership allows your brand to benefit from a wider reach, and highly engaged audience. As an extension to this, brands trying to break into new markets might try to partner with an influencer widely known in that nation (i.e. a UK brand wanting to move to the USA might try to enlist a well known American athlete, or sports player).
It is important to note, however, that for many athletes and sports personalities, being an influencer is not their day job, so they may need a little nudge, or help with the social media side of things. Once you get the right balance, however, often these partnerships are able to deliver significant results.
TOP TIP: aligning your fitness influencer marketing campaigns alongside big sports events such as the Olympics or the World Cup will give the campaign an additional boost.
Influencer categories, and what they mean
There are several influencer categories – some that are generic, and some that are directly related to sports. The influencer categories that span several industries are:
- Nano: below 10k followers
- Micro: between 10k to <100k followers
- Macro: between 100k to <1 million followers. These are usually the professional top tier influencers, and oftentimes ‘influencing’ is their sole profession.
- Mega: 1 million + followers. Can also be celebrities, and other public figures.
In regards to sport, influencers will often fall into the following subgroups:
- New talent or under 20 level
- National level
- International level
How to choose your influencer(s)
There are two elements to consider when choosing an influencer to represent your brand:
What are the goals and values of your company or brand?
What are the specific goals of the campaign or project?
Once you have these goals and values in mind, you will be able to look at influencers who encompass them. If you were launching a new line of female fitness clothing, for example, you want to look for strong, inspirational athletic women to represent the launch. For each level of influencer you could enquire about:
- Serena Williams
- Champion tennis player
- 16.8 million followers on Instagram*
- Carly Rowena
- YouTube fitness influencer, mostly doing post-natal workouts
- 170k followers on Instagram*
- Paige (@paigefitUK)
- Instagram influencer, training for the marathon
- 59.2k followers*
*all follower counts are accurate at time of writing and launch.
Who is the target audience for your company? And are there specific demographics you are looking to target for your campaign?
When you have your ideal target audience in mind, you can then do an analysis of the followers for your shortlist of potential influencers. Do their following fall within your target audience?
Continuing with the above example, if you are launching a new line of female active wear, but your chosen influencers followers are 90% male – you might not get the return on investment that you are hoping for.
Confirm your budget
As you can probably predict, the more popular and well known the influencer is, the more expensive the initial cost or investment is going to be. For example, a mega influencer with a celebrity or olympian status, and an international audience is going to set you back far more than a micro influencer with a more national or localised audience, known for their workout and nutrition tips on YouTube.
The reverse can also be the same (but not always): the bigger and more well known the influencer, the more engagement, conversions, and sales you are likely to make.
It is important to find the right balance between influencer level, and return on investment (ROI). Depending on your resources, budget, and calculated ROI, you need to decide what level of influencer is best for your brand.
Choose & reach out to your chosen influencer
Once you have considered all of the above, and chosen the influencer who fits best within the requirements, then you are ready to reach out to them (or their agents/PR team) with your requirements and offering.
Successful influencer marketing for Health & Wellness brands
Sports personalities and athletes make great influencers for Health & Wellness brands, due to the values of health, hard work, and determination that they encompass. There are several aspects you have to consider when trying to decide the best fitness influencer for your brand – such as campaign goals, target audience, and budget – and finding a balance between them is the key to success in influencer marketing.