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Personal branding is incredibly important for professional athletes. The value of one’s brand influences marketability, popularity, and sponsorship opportunities.

Social media has changed the way athletes develop their personal brands. Athletes are now directly connected to fans. There is a transparency in the sports industry that creates unparalleled opportunity for personal brand development.

Below are three examples of athletes who have effectively used social media to develop and leverage their personal brands.

Nick Swisher
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a piece on the ways Nick Swisher uses social media to develop his brand (WSJ article). Social media, the article points out, has given Swisher a platform to build and broadcast his personal brand.
“Mr. Swisher is a good player but is not on a Cooperstown track. As celebrity endorsements move beyond the superstars, the mid-level player with personality and social-media savvy can reach endorsement and name-recognition levels that were once only the domain of the best of the best, said David Carter, author of the recent book, Money Games, and head of the USC Sports Business Institute.”

What he does well: Authenticity
Almost every article about Nick Swisher depicts him as a charismatic, likable guy. He has a magnetic personality, and he does a great job of broadcasting this personality through social media. His tweets and Facebook posts are always authentic to his character.

Swisher comes across as someone that is approachable and down to earth, which only adds to his brand value. Social media allows fans to relate with Swisher off the field, which helps build his value on the field.

Rajon Rondo
On the social media front, Rondo is perhaps best known for his #LooseBall promotion this past summer (article). Rondo worked with Activ8Social to launch a contest where fans followed him on twitter, were given scavenger hunt clues, and then received prizes if they showed up at designated locations.

What he does well: Creativity
This unique and creative fan engagement campaign helped set Rondo apart. The #LooseBall promotion went far beyond the typical twitter Retweet or Facebook post.
In terms of personal brand development, this was successful because it generated media buzz (ESPN article), it demonstrated creativity, and most importantly, it showed he cares about his fans.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald has built a powerful personal brand using Twitter. He is currently the 4th most popular NFL player on twitter and does a great job of making himself accessible to fans.

What he does well: Engagement
Anyone following Larry Fitzgerald on Twitter knows that it is not uncommon for him to Retweet a fan, or mention someone’s birthday, or talk about his family. He uses Twitter as not only as a way to let fans in on his daily life, but he goes a step further by regularly reaching out to his fans.
Fitzgerald has used social media to brand himself as someone that appreciates his fans, and this goes a long way in building popularity.

Closing thoughts

Social media brings transparency to the sports world, and it is this transparency that creates new opportunities for personal branding. I have looked at three athletes who utilize social media to connect with fans and build their popularity off the playing field, but there are plenty of other athletes that are doing similar things.
In your opinion, what athletes are doing the best job of building personal brands with social media?

Original Article by: Tim McGarry