Sponsored Rider Guidelines for Social Media
Quite simply put… to keep your sponsors happy, keep posting your regular content that’s attractive and engaging across all your social media channels, but most of all be you!
These days, access to your social media is a big part of what you can offer sponsors in return for free product and/or financial contributions. For riders with a high engagement rate and a large following, your social media coverage offers sponsors great value.
Along with posting your regular content, your sponsors will want to see individually created posts tailored specifically to their brand.
Many sporting athletes use Facebook and Instagram stories to engage and connect with their followers on a daily basis. But, whether your content is posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram, as a rider with sponsors to consider, you may find the following advice useful:
Sharing is Caring
Your first rule is to make sure that you are following and engaging with your sponsors’ pages. If they have multiple brands, be sure to follow all their pages on all their channels. Sponsors LOVE you to comment and share their content, so keep an eye on their pages on a regular basis.
Make it memorable.
Great content, particularly on Instagram, should be visually appealing and eye-catching. It’s likely to generate a much higher engagement rate when it is. It’s worth investing in a Commercial Photography Session to build a bank of great images to promote your personal brand and your sponsors’ products. Not only will it help to create a smart professional image for you but you will be providing great visual content that your sponsors can share.
To tag or not to tag?
Your sponsors love to see when you have done well and by tagging them in your posts, it automatically highlights to them your latest news. But do bear in mind that they will want to support you and share your achievements on their own pages. If your Facebook post includes a long list of all your other sponsors, it may discourage them from sharing your content.
Be discreet, be smart, look professional. Best practice is to include a group of your sponsors is by tagging the image. This way it’s only visible when someone hovers over the picture.
All that said, sometimes it’s nice to publically list and thank all your sponsors and owners who support you year in year out. Just keep it to a minimum to be sure to have the most impact.
Make it personal but professional
Creating a business page will allow you to separate your more private personal life from your equestrian life. However, as well as your competition progress, your followers will like to see a behind the scenes look into your life as a rider.
Be open, honest and genuine
Your fans are following you because they have chosen to. Don’t over-promote products on your pages or you are likely to lose followers. It takes time to build trust with your followers so when you are promoting product be sure that it is something that you use and really understand. It’s easy to spot a fake!
If you are helping to promote your sponsor’s product think of innovative, fun and engaging ways of doing this. Use videos. Research has shown that video content across social media gets a higher engagement rate than static posts. You don’t have to have expensive equipment to do this, most smartphones have great cameras and the beauty is that you can post straight from your phone.
Mix it up
Strong brand recognition with a sponsor is built on consistency. Use social media to promote your association with your sponsors brand but don’t forget the good old fashioned way too, ‘word of mouth’. You are likely to come across a lot of fans, followers and associates in real life too!
Obey the Rules
If you mislead your followers, you may be breaking consumer protection law, and could face enforcement action from the CMA, local authority Trading Standards services or the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland. You might also break industry rules on advertising.
In the UK, it is illegal for brands or individuals to post sponsored content, which is most of the influencers’ main source of income, without disclosing it.
You may be breaking consumer protection law and could face enforcement action from Trading Standards if you fail to recognise the guidelines set by Competitions and Marketing Agency (CMA)
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) state that if an individual has been paid or given free products by a brand, AND that the brand has had either input into what content is posted or approved it before publishing, this counts as an advert and needs to be disclosed as such.
In this case, you must clearly state this in your caption by adding labels such as “ad,” “advertising” or “advert.” In the case of Instagram it should be in the first 140 characters and come before ‘…more’ to read more.
And find more about sponsored content and influencer marketing at the Advertising Standards Authority
Maintain a good relationship
Keep in regular contact with your sponsors. Strong sponsorship relationships rely on maintaining regular contact. Be clear and upfront with what you can offer them via your social media channels. Be creative with your activities: run an online competition, offer a visit to your yard or help promote products by offering your followers an exclusive discount.
Finally understand your sponsor’s objectives in advance to ensure that you are offering the value that they expect.