How to Make the Most of Sports Sponsorships on Social Media

BY Rachel Cagle
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The COVID-​19 vaccine may be reaching the masses, but not everyone is comfortable returning to the pre-​pandemic normal yet. Until the number of COVID cases in the U.S. starts dropping significantly, many sports fans will stick to watching their favorite events on their TVs. “A return without fans at live events presented a unique challenge for sponsors, given the on-​site activations they host across sports leagues,” says a recent report by Nielsen. What’s in store for sports sponsorships until we finally reach a post-​pandemic economy?

Sports Sponsorships During a Pandemic: Spotlight on Social Media


Following the leads of many other brands, sports have turned to digital channels for promotion, including social media. According to Nielsen, social media is, “where athlete endorsement comes into play, particularly as new brands are trying to build awareness, connect with new fans and jump into opportunities they haven’t explored before.” On Instagram alone, branded content posts on athletes’ accounts have increased by 58% from March 2020 to March 2021.

Why does this matter? For every five million followers an athlete has on Instagram, that’s approximately $314 million in quality index media value. According to AudienceSCAN on AdMall by SalesFuel, 48% of TV Sports Watchers are active on Instagram. In particular, sports such as skateboarding, surfing, climbing, karate, baseball and softball have seen dramatic increases in Instagram followers over the past two years (an average of 133%). According to AudienceSCAN:

  • 76.5% of Skateboarders are active on Instagram
  • 74.4% of Surfers have Instagram accounts
  • 72.9% of Rock Climbers enjoy browsing Instagram
  • 66% of Martial Artists are on Instagram
  • 45.2% of Major League Baseball and 52.5% of Minor League/​College Baseball Fans are on Instagram
  • 61.9% of Softball Players are active on Instagram

And this is just on Instagram. According to AudienceSCAN, TV Sports Watchers are also active on:

  • Facebook: 77.7%
  • YouTube: 63.3%
  • Twitter: 40.8%
  • TikTok: 11.6%

This makes social media an excellent place to put sports sponsorships.


Your clients may be wary of putting much stock in sports sponsorships on TikTok. After all, it’s fairly new and is just for members of Generation Z, right? Wrong. The pandemic and general curiosity have driven consumers of all ages to download TikTok and spend hours watching TikTok videos. This includes sports fans. For example, Nielsen cites a TikTok sports sponsorship video uploaded for the 2020 UEFA EURO (European football championship). The video featured 35 seconds of greatest moment sports clip mashups. And it got more than six million views and 160,000+ interactions in just one month. Now, just imagine what sports sponsorships could accomplish on more established social media platforms with wider demographics.

In addition to boosting engagement, digital activation allows brands to review near real-​time metrics and adjust campaigns instantaneously to increase fan impact,” says Nielsen. “It also facilitates fast reaction times and allows them to capitalize on the magic moments on the pitch, in the pool or on the track to fully leverage their associations with live events.” To find out which social media platforms to use and which types of sports sponsorships your client’s target audiences would be most likely to see or interact with, check out their audience profiles on AudienceSCAN. And then offer your digital marketing services to help them manage their social media needs.