If you don’t think followers matter as much as athletic performance, you’re giving the executives across the table way too much credit. Let me give you a peek behind the curtain to put things into perspective. While at adidas, when it came time to sign a new crop of athletes, the first thing I would ask my sports marketing counterpart was, “How big is their social network?” I wanted to know how many people followed them on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. The reasoning was simple: the more people that follow a given athlete, the more people that athlete will reach with each post.
The folks you’re trying to convince to bring you on as an endorser or perhaps as a full-time employee have more projects on their plates than they can handle. Every single one of them is in the midst of a time shortage. Because of that, these folks are going to look at what information is easily available to them, and there’s no simpler way to measure popularity today than through social media following.
Now, I’m not saying buy bots (fake followers) that simply drive up your fan count without anyone interacting with your posts. Engagement within your community is just as important as its size. But I am suggesting that you build a social media strategy that emphasizes network growth (I’ll show you how in chapter 3) and that you start implementing that strategy today.
If you build it, brands will come.