A recent study by Captiv8Labs found that student-athlete posts on social media perform up to 12-percent better than general influencers!

While this is unsurprising to us, having the data to back it up confirms what we have always believed about athletes:

1. Athletes elicit emotional connections

2. Athletes have high earned media potential

3. Athletes can stack wins others can’t

4. Fans want to support college athletes

Athletes Elicit Emotional Connections

There are a number of ways athletes elicit emotional connections. It’s only natural for people to be drawn to an athlete.

The easiest example is a fan, of course. Fans of sports teams become invested in the athletes who are representing their colors. Sometimes it may not seem like it on social media, but they desperately want athletes to succeed. 

Fans become totally invested in athletes’ lives. They want to feel connected. Like they know you better than anyone. Or if you’re in college – maybe they want to feel like “they knew you when…”.

Speaking of “they knew you when:”

Beyond fans, every athlete has their original community. The people who were part of their journey at the earliest stages, whether be in school or little league or bible study. 

Whatever it may be, they are an athlete’s most loyal supporters. They take pride in being able to tell their friends and co-workers how they were impacted by an athlete that made it big.

Every athlete is a hero to someone.

Athletes Have High Earned Media Potential

Why does earned media play a role in an athlete’s ability to be an influencer?


Every time an athlete is mentioned on television or simply from their sport’s social media account, they are garnering attention.

Athletes are having their stories told by others for free.

Those mentions lead to further interest in them, which ultimately leads to higher influencer power.

Athletes Can Stack Wins Others Can’t

This is the undeniable advantage athletes have over other every other segment of population.

No other “influencers” can stack wins as quickly as athletes.

Game results are built into an athlete’s schedule. 

General influencers are constantly yearning for opportunities to earn a “win.”

Athletes can show up Saturday for their next game.

Sure, this opens up athletes to losses as well. And losses can stack up.

But you know what America loves more than anything? A comeback story. There is always next Saturday.

Opportunities for good fortune are abound for athletes if they are able to take advantage of them.

Fans Want to Support College Athletes

We can’t forget this. 

For far too long, fans had no direct way to support athletes (legally, that is).

Sure, they could donate to support a scholarship, but we are talking about real money directly into a players’ pocket.

As a fan, if a favorite player of mine has an amazing game, and I know he makes $10 on a t-shirt sale – I’m that much more likely to contribute to his lunch the next day.

Shameless plug – you can do that right now for your favorite athletes at Illinois.NIL.Store and many other stores to come!

But at the bare minimum, fans are driven to support athletes simply by following and engaging with them on social media.


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