Sports and Social Media - Why Should Agents Care?

Today is the fourth in a series of posts (a new post each day) with thoughts from some pretty smart folks to try to answer the question of why people should care about the intersection of sports and social media. You can see the first three posts below:

Even if you already know why this is important, I hope you enjoy getting a variety of perspectives on this subject. If you have bosses, colleagues or friends that still don't get it, maybe they'll find some value in this series if you share it with them.

Today's topic is agents. Agents need to stay on top of social media and what their clients are doing to:

  • educate them on what to do and what not to do
  • research what potential clients are doing well and not so well (you want to identify potential liabilities now, rather than later)
  • understand where new monetization opportunities exist for athletes
  • understand how to do damage control if necessary
  • in some cases, to keep athletes from violating terms of their contracts

See below for a variety of thoughts from other smart folks about why agents should care about sports and social media.

Jackie Adkins - Your athletes will probably use some form of social media, whether it be a personal Facebook page or a fully integrated social media presence. No matter what it is, you have to realize that everything spreads quicker in the social age. This means naked photos, mug shots, un-kosher tweets, and stupid comment sin post game press conferences. Make sure your athletes know what to say and what not to say in these mediums, because they don’t want to end up on Deadspin.

Dennis Allen - Management sees what the fans are saying about teams and players. Agents need to be aware of this to properly position and market their assets before, during and after contract negotiations.

Anthony De Rosa - Agents should care because they have less control over their clients. Agents want to control the message and the story around their client, but it's harder to do that when they have so many outlets they can speak through at a moment's notice.

Ash Read - It’s essential that agents understand social media and they need to make sure their clients have adequate social media training to avoid the potential pitfalls. We all talk about the endless opportunities social media provides but someone needs to make sure athletes understand what they’re doing. Agents also need to understand the commercial benefits of social media and how they can make it pay off for their clients. Once an athlete has built up a following on social media there are endless ways they can utilise it and make it a part of endorsement details.

Brian Reich - Agents are in the business of selling athletes -- they negotiate large contracts, put together endorsement deals, and manage public relations on behalf of their clients, with the goal of enhancing their value in the eyes of owners and sponsors. For an agent to demonstrate that an athlete is valuable, they need to show the passion of fans, and the prospect of converting interest into revenue. As social media becomes a more embedded part of all aspects of life, it redefines consumer culture -- so agents must understand that community and accountability and transparency (values that you see on display across all types of social interaction online) contribute to the ways people get/share information, and what motivates someone to buy a product, and thus should be applied to their work with athletes as well.

Russell Scibetti - Agents should care for the same reason that athletes need to care. If an agent is going to best represent their client's interests, they need to be just as aware, if not more aware of the impact that social media has on their client's brand. How their clients interact with fans on social media can affect everything from player contract negotiations to maximizing the athlete's endorsement and marketing opportunities.

Trevor Turnbull - Athletes turn to their agents for advice on all kinds of topics including contract negotiation, financial planning, legal advice, investments, marketing and promotions. Agents that choose to ignore the power of social media are taking a huge risk. After all, their clients have the ability to positively influence the profitability of an agency. If the agent does not assume the role of guiding their clients with regards to social media best practices, the athletes can say and do whatever they want. Therefore, it is in the best interest of a sports agent to provide guidance to their athletes on how to represent themselves via social media in a manner that is best for their career.

Brendan Wilhide - Social media is a great way to build awareness about your clients and "tell their side of the story." Agents can use social media to break news about their clients, too, and even scoop the media sometimes.

Joseph Yi - For agents, social media is a great tool for networking. As social media creates a free flow of information, social networks like Twitter act as a business card into some athletes who may be looking for representation. Similarly, professional social networks like LinkedIn give agents a professional presence/resume online.

Now it's your turn - why do you think agents should care?

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, which will examine why coaches should care about social media/sports.