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Athletes on Twitter: A Branding Guide

This is a guest post from Thomas Stone.Recently SportsNetworker counted down the Top Five Most Followed Athletes on Twitter.

Sure, they have a lot of followers, but influence is a totally different story.

Athletes can influence their followers, no matter the number, based on the way they present themselves. Their followers will either listen to or disregard them based on the image they promote, information they share or level of engagement with followers.

The findings may surprise you.

#1: Ryan Sheckler

Whatever it is the 21-year-old skateboarding superstar is tweeting about–it’s working.

He was named the most influential athlete on Twitter, according to ad.ly.com, a website that runs celebrity endorsements in social media.

Some may blame his #1 spot on the fact that he’s a cool, young guy that does a ‘cool’ sport and had an MTV reality show. But, upon closer inspection, his Twitter account is surprisingly and subtly wise.

His tweets are a great blend of informative and fun, presenting him as dedicated to his sport, but also willing to let fans read about his day-to-day life. His re-tweets are relevant, usually referring to news in the skateboarding world, his competitions and the viewing schedule for televised skateboarding events.

He even spent what appears to be may be hours re-tweeting fans from around the world while he was grounded by Hurricane Irene in New Jersey.

His account combines professionalism with the personal touch that lets you know Sheckler’s actually writing these tweets himself. His fans buy into the brand he’s promoting, pushing him to the number one spot.

#2: Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce’s Twitter account is refreshingly diverse. He uses his account to endorse and promote his nonprofit, Truth on Health, to inspire kids to lead more active lifestyles. He re-tweets quite a bit from the Twitter account for Truth on Health, and links to articles he’s written for Sports Illustrated for Kids.

He mixes up the pace of things by adding pictures and tweets from his personal life, including him ‘chilling’ on the Great Wall of China during a recent trip with teammates.

His Twitter brand is much like Sheckler’s: laid back but professional. It’s possible that Sheckler gained an edge, however, due to his considerably younger fan demographic.

#3: Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom’s Twitter account is a bit less productive than that of other athletes, especially the two ranking before him. The possible reason for his success?

He’s married to Khloe Kardashian. And the types of people that enjoy the reality show Keeping up With the Kardashians are most likely Twitter fanatics.

That being said, Odom does use his account to promote giveaways and encourage fans to vote for himself and Khloe to win TV cheap wedding invitations.

Twitter allows users to share information to a specific audience with an unparalleled amount of timeliness and efficiency. It’s easier to access than Facebook and much less cluttered.

It’s perfect for establishing an online presence, personality and brand in 140 characters or less–especially if you’re already famous.

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