Football

Footballers With ‘Influence’ To Watch Out For This Season

By Rupert Pratt | June 17, 2020

The impact athletes and online personalities can have on social media is now a vital part of sport. And the partnerships between brands and influencers is now a crucial part of how these brands tell their stories and get their names in front of a sporting audience.

With the World Cup now over and the new season underway, we can take the opportunity to reflect on how footballers are now starting to really marry their on-pitch performances with their off-pitch influencer personalities.

Footballers are judged on their effectiveness by wins, but influencers (which is what they are when they venture into the online space) are judged on their personalities and reach.

The best partnerships fit the personality of the influencer, creating campaigns that align with the message the influencer normally puts forward. It has to fit with their personalities e.g. if they’re serious, playful, stylish.

As with any influencer, it has to be authentic. It can’t just be a script to read or a tweet to post (like this from Luis Suarez’s partnership with The Malaysia tourist board):

https://twitter.com/LuisSuarez9/status/1002309893834072064

Instead of just the vanity of follower numbers, interactions and engagement is the metric that counts as well as sentiment and measuring this is key.

Here are some of the winners from last season:

Benjamin Mendy

He was injured for practically all of last season, but pretty much a behind-the-scenes commentator for Man City for the 2017/18 season through his Instagram. In fact, it even helped him to show off his personality to the club’s supporters, becoming a fan’s favourite without having to kick a ball, and it helped him to solidify his place in the team:

https://digitalsport.co/how-man-citys-benjamin-mendy-turned-a-horror-debut-season-into-a-great-one

Pep stated after the club’s Premier League victory at Arsenal that Mendy needs to stay off social – Mendy responded by posting on social:

https://www.express.co.uk/sport/football/1002468/Benjamin-Mendy-Man-City-Pep-Guardiola-Twitter

Jesse Lingard

Shows ‘realness’ through his celebratory dance moves:

https://www.fourfourtwo.com/news/creative-and-pitch-lingard-posts-amazing-instagram-mural

Also worth mentioning the FA’s Lions Den (give good press to the FA), and how Lingard was one of the England players who endeared themselves to the country, partly because they seemed so likeable on social.

Ones to watch for 18/19 season

The tracking by http://vensy.co.uk, the AI-driven platform connecting brands and athletes, shows some of the fastest growing football influencers over the last 3 months:

Leah Williamson

Already catching the eyes of fans and brands, with FIFA hiring her to be in the celebrity tournament to celebrate the eWorld Cup last month:

https://realsport101.com/news/sports/esports/fifa/fifa-eworld-cup-msdossary-takes-fifa-18-world-title-back-to-saudi-arabia-with-clinical-performance/

And her Vogue article:

https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/leah-williamson-nike-arsenal-womens-football

Ademola Lookman had a good season away on loan from Everton last season. Appeals to the younger generation and has a ‘grassroots to glory’ allure having come up through the ranks at League One Charlton.

Jimmy Conrad is a US former MLS player-turned-influencer and demonstrates how quickly you can turn an on-pitch career into off-pitch influencer status.

Rupert Pratt is Co-Founder of Snack-Gaming.com and Advisor to Snack-Media.com.

Football