The way the world communicates continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Today, anyone can break news via social media 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With this comes opportunity, but it’s also important to understand the challenges and potential issues surrounding a no filter easy access approach to audiences everywhere.
As a young athlete competing in international competitions, media exposure will quickly become a big part of your career. That’s why you’ll need to learn how to manage your own social media accounts and how to excel when you communicate with the traditional media: television, radio and print.
We’ve pulled together seven quick tips to get you set with the basics…
- Social media varies between countries, continents and regions
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat might be widely used in Europe and America, but Asia, especially China, has its own preferred social media platforms: Weibo, Sina and Youku. While in Russia, the current most popular platform is VK. Each social network has a precise purpose. Before you get started, check which is the most popular in your country; find out its purpose and how you communicate using it.
- How to build up a fan base
Social media, and Facebook in particular, regularly change their algorithms on what makes a post successful. Here are some tips:
- Pay attention to what time you post online around 18:00-22:00 is generally a good time, but always consider the time zone of the audience you’re posting – especially when competing abroad.
- There is such thing as too many hashtags (we recommend two or three, but no more).
- Tag and mention the friends you talk about in your post (including friends of your friends).
- Why is a big community of fans useful to athletes?
Not all sports get a huge amount of media coverage, but athletes can still use social media to create their own fan base, which offers great visibility for sponsors and helps to boost your own personal brand. Sponsors are interested in the number of followers and fans an athlete has; so don’t be shy in sharing your stories online.
- The advantages of being social
Social media provides the perfect chance to tell your story and increase your visibility. To do this, develop your own style; and add short and regular posts with attractive visuals. Try to vary the content (photos, videos, training, results, travel, etc.). But don’t force yourself to post something. There’s always another opportunity.
- Taking a video?
First, take any videos horizontally. If you can, use the camera on the back for better quality, while you could also use a tripod or another firm object to help stabilise your phone. Natural daylight is always best, so try to take your video outside or near a window. Try to find a quiet place with no echo. To find out more, watch this video.
- Enhancing your Videos
Thanks to the many free tools out there, you can edit your own videos. Keep things simple and be creative: use close-ups, wide angles or time lapses. Don’t forget that you can’t use third-party content without authorisation (music, videos, etc.), especially if this is for commercial purposes. Make sure you have the permission of the people in your video before you post it, too.
- Take care!
It’s important to take care in what you post online. You are responsible for what you say, publish and share. It’s best to avoid doing anything in the heat of the moment; it’s easy for things to be taken and used out of context.
Be careful when you move onto subjects other than your sport and your passion, especially in areas linked to your personal views. It’s also important to make a distinction between your private account and your public account.
Tips when facing the media
When you’re an athlete and start achieving good results, the media will begin to take an interest in you. This is great news, but it can sometimes be intimidating. It takes time to get comfortable in front of a camera or speaking live on air, but with practice it’ll soon come naturally.
Nine top tips
- Always be careful about your appearance.
- Wear appropriate clothing and make sure that the names of your sponsors are visible (but always comply with Rules 40 and 50).
- Pay attention to your body language.
- Always look at the person asking you questions, not at the camera.
- If you are taking part in a radio interview, warm up your voice beforehand (especially if this is in the morning).
- Answer using short sentences.
- Avoid being too critical of judges, organisations or your fellow competitors.
- You can always ask for the questions in advance if you want to prepare for an interview.
- Always ask to read the finished piece. Sometimes journalists are reluctant about this, but they are required to allow you to at least read your own quotes.
Treat the media as your friends. You’re the one with a story to tell, and the media are keen to hear it. Use their interest to your advantage!
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