Remember we spoke about defining your personal brand identity? By putting a clear definition of who you are on paper, you laid the foundation of your personal brand. It gives you a structure where you can always look back at when you decide to communicate something.
The latter is what we are discussing today – how do you communicate who you are? Just like every other person you have multiple interests and activities you participate in. Should you communicate about all of them? Maybe you prefer to share only content about your sport. Would that be wise?
More than social media
Just to clear things up first, with communication we are not solely referring to social media. Your personal brand is much more than your social channels. In every interaction you make with others you should be communicating who you are. From post-match interviews to fan interaction and from meeting people in your spare time to eventually your social media activity. If you are always 100% yourself, in every single occasion people will receive the same impression of you. That’s also why personal branding is not a short-term strategy but a life-long project.
To get back to our main question of today, we look further than only social media. Let’s analyze a good example of a personal brand in women’s football to explain how she communicates both online and offline. And which female football player has a stronger image than Megan Rapinoe? She has been a frontrunner for equal rights all her career and besides being a very good player, she is also known by a lot of people who are not football fans. So how does she communicate?
Her social channels are an easy way to start looking at her brand. She most actively uses Instagram and Twitter. On Instagram her timeline looks quite messy at first glance. Most publications are photos or videos of herself, although not all. Quite a lot of commercial content is visible as well. But if we take a closer look at her content, can we identify her personality? She clearly expresses herself as an extrovert person, with an eccentric and colorful style. By sharing her achievements, she takes pride of her work and resonates confidence. Her purpose of her equal rights battle is also communicated consistently, in both posts and stories, without her always being in the picture.
On Twitter you basically experience the same, only more in words instead of pictures. She shares her opinions, achievements, and acts like a role model. The fight for equal rights for women is even more clear on this channel. At least on her most active social media channels she is consistent in her content, gives a strong message and is clearly recognizable. That is also why she is interesting for that many businesses and has that many commercial partnerships.
We have never met Rapinoe personally so maybe someone who has, can comment if she gives the same impression as well offline. At least during media appearances she definitely does. In many interviews she shows her fighting spirit and speaks up about equal pay and other empowerment movements. She doesn’t hide and for sure won’t quit this battle when she hangs the boots and retires professional football. The opposite, by the way she communicated about herself, her beliefs and displayed her personality, she created already such a strong personal brand, that she is much more than an athlete. The end of her football career will only be a milestone during her entire career. Many athletes struggle with their identity after retiring, finding themselves in a black hole, but Rapinoe will most likely have a smooth transition into her non-athlete career. Why? Because she build a personal brand that reaches people beyond football performances and above all, is clearly communicates who she is and what she stands for.
What to communicate about?
When communicating about yourself, which can both be verbal as non-verbal of course, you should stay conscious about the message you are sending. The easiest solution is therefore to just be who you are - highlighting your personal values. If you are as outspoken, eccentric and extrovert as Rapinoe, be so. But if you are not, don’t try to be like this to grow your personal brand.
To link back to the questions in the second paragraph – should you communicate about every activity you participate in? You are basically communicating about them already when you are doing these activities. In the (social) media you can share those interests and activities to reach more people. We advise you to do so because it gives an amazing insight about the person you really are, much further than the athlete. This answer basically already answers the second question as well. Would it be smart to only share content about your sport? No, it isn’t. Being an athlete is part of your identity, but it is not the only identity you have. It is smart to share sports content, but in combination with other content, just like Megan Rapinoe – about your personal interests and showcasing your personality.
If you like to have someone helping you in the personal branding processes, don't hesitate to reach out! At Valenze we support our athletes in developing personal strategies so their communication is unique and powerful. Take a look at our other blogs as well to learn more about personal branding for athletes.