5 YouTube Strategies to Level Up an Athlete's Branding and Marketing

Courtesy:  Think With Google

For athletes and their brand managers, the revenue and brand-building opportunities with YouTube are clear: Expose athletes to more than a billion worldwide users who want exponentially more online video content, and generate additional scalable income at the same time.

Here are five strategies to level up an athlete's branding and marketing strategies with YouTube:

1. Developing lifelong fans

96 percent of online U.S. teens use YouTube.

Strategy Play: When athletes target younger demographics, they position themselves to create lifelong fans who will spend in the thousands over their lifetime to support the athlete, as well as other brands with which he or she is affiliated (much like I did with Kobe Bryant when I read his book as a 9-year-old).

2. The YouTube Partner Program

The highest-earning YouTube user, Daniel Middleton, made $16.5 million via the YouTube Partner Program, while the top-10 most lucrative YouTube channels combined to generate more than $125 million, in 2017.

Strategy Play: If a gamer can rack up these numbers, so too can athletes who already have some level of exposure and popularity through other forms of media. The key here is to understand the types of content an athlete's fans want on YouTube, and then consistently deliver it to them.

Athletes who are impressively doing so include Kevin DurantJuJu Smith-Schuster and Tom Daley.

3. YouTube Ads > TV Ads.

Not only does YouTube have a bigger audience than traditional TV nowadays (more minutes of YouTube are watched than on the latter), but data shows that people watch almost 20 more percent of advertising time on YouTube than on traditional TV.

Strategy Play: When athletes build their brand on YouTube and other forms of digital media, they can better position themselves to "sell ads" to sponsors (e.g. product placement in an athlete's videos), or participate in ads that sponsors run on YouTube.

After all, viewers are 10 times more likely to engage with an advertiser on YouTube by, for example, subscribing to its channel or watching more of its videos — therefore increasing the value of the athlete's role in partnership with a sponsor.

4. Strengthening the athlete-fan relationship

60% of YouTube sports viewers say that YouTube is one of the first places they go after major sports events or news.

Strategy Play: If athletes are consistently active and innovative on YouTube, they increase their chances of better connecting with fans — and, ultimately, building fan loyalty and athlete brand equity at scale — when they have breakout performance or otherwise make headline news.

5. The opportunity for an exclusive fan experience

YouTube has sports and fitness content users can't find anywhere else, according to nearly 80 percent of YouTube sports viewers.

Strategy Play: After performing an Athlete Brand Study and Model of Athlete Brand Image, determine how different attributes of an athlete's life story can best come to life in YouTube videos.

By providing an exclusive "content experience" for fans on YouTube (as well as other digital media channels), fan loyalty and athlete brand equity will skyrocket at tremendous scale.

About the Author:

Josh Hoffman is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Institute for Athlete Branding and Marketing. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.