The Best Athlete Using Social Media Today - Not Who You'd Expect

09/06/2016 05:03 pm ET

Who’s the best athlete using social media today? A larger-than-life NBA player like LeBron James?

#Salute to the "Captain" as well as the #GOAT #YankeeLifer #CantReplaceHim #HOFNext

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

Wrestler-turned-A-list actor Dwayne Johnson?

Although LeBron James and Dwayne Johnson are social media All Stars, one athlete tops both of them.

And it’s not because of his number of followers, or likes or shares he gets on his posts. It’s because of what it means to both him and his race team. 

What if your job literally depended on using social media? For NASCAR driver Josh Wise, it did last week.

Josh needed a sponsor for his #30 car to participate in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 throwback race in Darlington, SC, and until August 30, Josh didn’t have one. 

So, he turned to social media with this tweet:

 

A day later, Josh had a sponsor in IncredibleBank and appropriately, announced the good news via Twitter too:

Did this strategy for Josh work because he tweeted the perfect thing at the perfect time? Was there a sponsor on Twitter who happened to be looking for a driver and magic happened? 

No.

Josh didn’t get his sponsor because he was lucky. He earned his sponsor through a very deliberate social media strategy.

Before Josh describes his strategy, here are some great words of wisdom from Josh for any of us who are in business:

...it’s important to know your audience. For me - I am a NASCAR driver, a triathlete who has qualified for the IronMan World Championships, and a family man. Those are the things that my audience subscribes to, so that’s what I give them.”

Social media rule #1, compliments of Josh: know your audience

More from Josh on his social media strategy:

 

“Social media is such a powerful tool and so under utilized by businesses! My use of social media is constantly being refined and refocused. I learned a lot about this through a sponsorship I had with Reddit and Dogecoin. The attention span of the Internet is very short, and it’s all about telling a story and maximizing the momentum of your story. I am an old school racer and I have worked hard and never given up to reach the highest level of Motorsports - the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

As far as what I use social media for the answer is simple - to tell my story and to connect and interact with fans. I reply to almost everyone who messages me. I have friendships that exist through social media, and I answer questions and make sure my story is told.

My favorite platform for some time has been Reddit. I have a very loyal following on Reddit and my fans from Reddit have done a tremendous amount of legwork in supporting my efforts. Reddit is very complex to navigate but for any business or person that is looking to engage an audience, it is a great place to have a presence.

More recently, Snapchat has been really great for me. I added a Snapchat account a few months ago and it has been tremendous. It gives such an authentic platform to interact with fans and to truly tell a story. I am finding that although my audience isn’t as large (yet) as my other channels, the engagement and connection I get through Snapchat is creating more loyal followers that are spilling into other areas.”

Speaking of connection and interaction with fans, here’s Josh taking a pic in Darlington this weekend with his new friends (and sponsors) IncredibleBank.

I asked CEO Todd Nagel of IncredibleBank (pictured in the upper left above) why the sponsorship of Josh made sense. Todd says:

“First of all, Josh is an excellent race car driver that worked his way up to NASCAR. Like IncredibleBank, we are both (up-and-coming brands) within our industry. We needed more National attention and he needed a sponsor. It is a perfect match. Social Media brought us together.”

Back to Josh:

“The IncredibleBank relationship came through a Twitter post. We were lacking sponsorship for an upcoming race, I posted a note on Twitter and it went viral pretty quickly with responses and people retweeting. I believe the post that IncredibleBank actually saw was retweeted by Jeff Gluck from USA Today. So it’s crazy how it all ties together.”

Had Josh not strategically put forth the effort on social media before needing a sponsor, the retweet from Jeff Gluck - as well as the tweets, retweets, and likes his fans shared - would simply not have happened.

Josh gives his fans unparalleled access into the real-life victories and struggles of a NASCAR driver. When he asked for their support in his time of need, his tens of thousands of followers were happy to help him.

What can you do to emulate Josh’s success on social media?

Understand that social media is first about giving and supporting others. Spend your time - like Josh - having real conversations about things important to your target audience.

Then, when you need to ask something of YOUR fans, they’ll go out of their way to help you, too.

Like this article? Please share with a friend.

Spencer X Smith shares business development strategies using social media after he proves they work first. After working a couple Fortune 500 corporate gigs for a decade, he started a company to teach what he’s figuring out himself.

Have topic ideas you’d like Spencer to cover? Reach him on his website at spencerXsmith.com

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