Why you should add a student athlete to your marketing team.

Influencer marketing has become a critical component of social media marketing campaigns and that trend is likely to continue. You can see it in the numbers; the spend on influencers has grown from $1.7 billion in 2016 to $10.24 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $84.89 billion in 2028.1  Why? According to StatSocial, “influencer endorsements carry more weight and can influence their followers’ purchasing decisions compared to more traditional marketing tactics due to the relationships and trust they create.”2 

An Influencer for Every Need

There’s a range of Influencer “types,” along with a range of followers. Micro-influencers have smaller audiences — typically have between 5,000 and 30,000 followers — and can reasonably ask for a dollar amount in the low three figures per post. Counterintuitive as it may seem, many brands prefer working with these small-scale promoters because they typically have higher levels of audience engagement. There’s probably another reason, too. Bigger-time, “major leaguer” influencers can have hundreds of thousands of followers, if not more. And the money is huge. Just how huge? An influencer with 1 million Instagram followers will make $10,000 per post. If you are an influencer with more than 1 million followers, you can charge anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 per post or campaign. Look at Christiano Ronaldo, for instance. The international football star turned celebrity influencer gets anywhere between $800K - $1M for a single post.

As The Financial Brand recently pointed out, deep-pocketed brands such as Current and Amex have jumped on the influencer train, but social media stars like Ronaldo, and Shaquille O’Neal for Amex (is there any product he WON’T hawk, by the way?), are obviously quite pricey, and out of reach for local community banks looking to give their social media marketing campaigns some celebrity glitz. But thanks to a change in National College Athletic Association (NCAA) rules, there are now athletes out there who are affordable.  And, becoming quite effective as celebrity endorsers. They’re college student athletes.

What NIL can mean for community banks. 

For years, student athletes were forbidden from using their “NIL” — that is name, image, and likeness — to make money. That changed about a year ago, when the NCAA decided that Division 1, 2, and 3 student athletes could use their name, image, and likeness o make money. And many are finding that there is quick and easy cash in “influencing” followers on social media platforms.

All of this is driven largely by what’s become known as the “Creator Economy.” What is it? Signalfire, a company that specializes in “creating creators” defines it this way:  “The Creator Economy is defined as the class of businesses built by over 50 million independent content creators, curators, and community builders including social media influencers, bloggers, and videographers, plus the software and finance tools designed to help them with growth and monetization.”  The company goes on to tell us that more than 50 million people around the world consider themselves creators and that this has become the fastest-growing type of small business. Sadly, according to Signalfire, “a survey found that more American kids want to be a YouTube star (29%) than an astronaut (11%) when they grow up.” Okay, granted I never really had my heart set on becoming an astronaut, but I do find this statistic more than just a bit disappointing and not just a little disturbing.

I could kick myself.

I’m a bit saddened too, that I was born a few decades too early to cash in on the influencer bandwagon. Back when I was a kicker on the Auburn University football team, the NCAA would have given me a kick — right out of school and off the team — if I had accepted money of any kind, least of all, thousands of dollars for some sort of product endorsement. I think I would have made a great influencer. I imagine a short video that shows me kicking one of those critical, game-winning field goals, for instance. I have a big smile on my face as I enthusiastically extol the virtues of my Nike footwear. I wonder, though, if I would have stayed in school and gotten my degree if I’d discovered that I could make a living endorsing stuff on social media! (Of course, none of this was even possible as social media didn’t even exist at that time).

Endorsers can be powerful partners, especially with a younger demographic. And, as a community bank, isn’t this the demographic that you need to compete with the neo banks and big nationals? And with that, build your share of wallet? These are the individuals who may not be the most revenue-generating customers at first, but will grow into your revenue-generating products such as loans and investment vehicles. And they’re much more likely to listen to (and trust) someone they can consider “real,” (like a well-respected local college athlete) than a corporate marketing department. 

So, who knows?  You may have an influencer right in your own backyard… or on the track, the court, or the football stadium of a nearby college. Now might be a good time to start looking.

About Bank Marketing Center 

Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. 


To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com.  You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at nreynolds@bankmarketingcenter.com.  As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. #bankmarketing #communitybankmarketing ​​#influencer

1Jacinda Santora. Influencer Marketing Hub. 2022. “18 Influencer marketing trends to watch in 2022.” https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-trends/
2StatSocial. August 25, 2022. “Influencer marketing. How it works and why it’s so effective.” https://www.statsocial.com/influencer-marketing-how-it-works-and-why-it-is-so-effective