When it comes to social media, an athlete’s behavior both on and off the field matters. It’s well known that inappropriate or offensive posts to social media can get an athlete in hot water but less recognized is the power of good behavior in creating the right kind of attention, especially a great game or play when they’re really in the zone.
One of the best examples is New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (@OBJ_3). On November 23rd 640,000 mentions on Twitter in the span of just a few hours when he successfully completed a one-handed catch to score a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Before the week of the game he had about 84,000 Twitter followers which had grown by 77% to 149,000 followers just four days later.
In fact, Beckham has been one of the NFL’s top mentioned players of the week on Twitter multiple times. He just topped the list at #1 in week 17 between December 25th retweeted players. As of today, Beckham has 220,000 followers, a 47% increase from the 149k in November. Other examples of top mentioned NFL players include Marshawn Lynch (@MoneyLynch) and Dez Bryant (@DezBryant). Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was the #1 most mentioned NFL athlete on Twitter during week 16 (between December 18th the top 5 list again the very next week.) Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has made the top 5 most mentioned NFL athlete multiple times as well, such as during week 17 when he broke the single season team records for rushing yards and touchdowns.
The power of a good play translating into good social media influence is not limited to the NFL. Some of the MLB players most mentioned on Twitter in 2014 were David Ortiz (@davidortiz) and Mike Trout (@trouty20), players who also have some of the longest home runs this season. Ortiz’s April home run was measured at 482 ft by ESPN’s HitTracker while Trout’s June home run took first place at 489 ft at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. In 2013, Trout held the top spot for average home run distance at an average of about 420 ft.
The World Cup generated over 97 million tweets that used the hashtags #WorldCup and #WorldCup2014. When analyzed, it was no surprise to see Argentina’s Lionel Messi (@leomessi on Instagram) was one of the most mentioned players at 235,986 mentions during the World Cup. Messi won the World Cup’s Golden Ball award for being the most outstanding player and his 8.6 million Instagram followers is impressive. USA’s Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) also made the list with 174,119 mentions on Twitter. This is another no-brainer given he made the 5th when he scored 30 seconds into the first game between the U.S. and Ghana.
These players can all thank their skills on the field for their phenomenal growth and social media influence rather than any negative publicity of a social media disaster or a Twitter feed full of inappropriate posts.