The Social Athlete
As you read in my previous blog (just go read it if you haven’t, it’s right on the previous page) social media and the NFL are blazing a trail and setting the standard for how major companies should be utilizing the space.
Perhaps the greatest aspect of this blooming relationship is how the NFL’s employees are arguably the ones leading the charge. It definitely helps that these ‘employees’ are some of the biggest celebrities in the country; but I think that says even more about how awesome the fact is that they’re so willing to make themselves accessible to everyone online.
Ochocinco broke the barrier, and can still be considered the godfather of social media (as far as pro athletes are concerned). A few other big social NFL players are Cardinal’s receiver Larry Fitzgerald (1.1 million followers), Dolphins back Reggie Bush (2.2 million – thanks Kim Kardashian), Eagles QB Mike Vick (1.1 million) and Saints QB Drew Brees (900k) – Ocho leads the way with well over three million. Despite the gaudy ‘follow’ numbers that these stars post, my favorite people to follow socially are the up and comers – the players who are (yes, it pains me to say/think this) the same age as me; who grew up with social media and know how to utilize it the best (not necessarily know how to ‘utilize’ it the best – but best because they’re so familiar with it).My favorite for sure is Stevan Ridley, rookie running back for the New England Patriots. Ridley is both heavily active on Facebook (/StevanRidley) and Twitter (@stevanridley) while occasionally updating other social sites as well (for example, Ridley just made mainstream news
with his ‘Super Bowl Playlist’ upload to social music site Spotify). Ridley really shines on Facebook where he constantly updates his page (he has a ‘fan’ page that you have to Like, but he post directly from it as any of us would do with our regular facebook accounts) with photos and statuses giving an inside look at a number of things ranging from shots inside the Patriots locker room, funny quotes he comes up with, or seeking advice for good places to eat in the Foxboro area. Recently he posted a photo album featuring pictures of him in high school and commented right alongside fans in the comments section. He also shows his social range on Twitter, where he’ll host #RidleysBelieveItOrNot chats where he fields questions about ANYTHING from fans.
In my eyes, what Ridley is doing is just the beginning as far as accessing players via social media sites is concerned. Although Ridley is fresh out of college, the upcoming generations are even further immersed in social media than mine/Ridley’s is (yes – Stevan and I share both generations and football talent). I’m excited for what the future holds and I’m pumped for the growth of the NFL in the world of social media.