One of the first posts I ever wrote here was about Gilbert Arenas, the true pioneer of the social media space for professional athletes. Shaq gets the credit for being the one who led the way, because of his use of Twitter, but Gilbert was in the space first. And Gilbert was a blogger! Forget Shaq writing 140-character tweets in 2008, Gilbert was writing blog posts that consisted of hundreds if not thousands of words… two years earlier!
Anyway, this post is not about Shaq or Gilbert Arenas or anyone you’ve likely heard of before. This post is about Swedish professional golfer Alex Noren and minor league baseball player Matt Antonelli. Why? They’re both professional athletes and outstanding bloggers. We focus so much on Facebook & Twitter as the tools athletes should be utilizing, but let’s not forget the power of the blog.
Alex Noren (AlexNoren.com)
Alex uses his blog very much like how I would recommend a professional athlete to use his or her blog; frequent updates with lots of pictures and behind-the-scenes looks that tell the story of who Alex Noren is. He posts pictures from the course, as well as from workouts, and the clubhouse lounge, and he’s always sure to add a caption or a bit of commentary. All the posts seem to come directly from Alex.
One big criticism would be that Alex fails to interact with commenters. These are readers who feel passionately enough about him to leave their thoughts on Alex’s posts, and yet he misses the opportunity to capitalize and engage.
Matt Antonelli (MatthewAntonelli.com)
While not the prettiest of blogs design-wise, Matt does an excellent job with content. He posts regularly, using the blog almost as a journal. Matt generally posts about what is on his mind and what he’s been up to. I love the fact that he posts videos. Recently, he posted some footage of his trip to the San Diego Zoo, as well as footage from a recent Massachusetts to Arizona road trip. The content is incredibly personal and authentic, and that’s what makes it so great.
Matt also asks site visitors to “Become a Fan” with a Like Box and to “Follow Matt on Twitter” with an embedded Twitter feed. Great to see the incorporation of social media, and also to see that Matt updates both his Facebook & Twitter accounts quite frequently.
Fun Story: Recently, my boss, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Matt Antonelli had an exchange on Twitter where Gary told Matt that his brother AJ owned Matt on his fantast team. He replied, “tell @ajv I’m sorry I’ve been hurt all year…Don’t lose the faith lol.” Great stuff!
Honorable Mention: Kevin Durant (KevinDurant35.com/blog)
This is easily the best blog I’ve seen from a well-known athlete. Durant posts about once per week, and generally seems to write his own posts. He writes about basketball, of course, but also about what’s on his mind. For example, he recently posted about hip hop artist Drake’s new album as well as his thoughts on pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg. The blog isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I’ve seen from a notable pro athlete.
Advice for Athletes
Take some notes. Buy your domain name. Create a blog (use Tumblr, it’s easy). Post regularly. Be authentic. Post lots of pictures and videos. Include your social presence if you have one (if you don’t have one, get one). Give fans a behind-the-scenes experience they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
You may think you don’t have the time, but believe me, it’s smart to take the five minutes per day to post some content on a consistent basis. Why? Facebook and Twitter are great, but they are only platforms. You can make your blog your permanent home on the web.