Boost Mobile Seeing Positive ROI From Its NIL Program

Last Updated on March 7, 2022

Boost Mobile became the first mobile carrier to sponsor college athletes directly when it announced the signing of college basketball players Hanna and Haley Cavinder on July 1, 2021. The company has since expanded the scope of its sponsorship program to include over 150 student athletes across the country, participating in a wide number of sports, due to the positive results it saw from working with college athletes both in terms of increased social engagement and sales boosts tied to in-person appearances.

Results on Instagram

Boost Mobile relied heavily on its NIL program for the seven months following its initial college athlete signings. Sixty percent of Boost Mobile branded posts were NIL posts, with college athletes accounting for 50% of the company’s overall influencer program. From July 1, 2021 to February 14, 2022, Boost Mobile saw its average engagement rate on Instagram increase from 0.17% to 2.5% and its average likes per post increase from 99 to 251 thanks to posts on its account featuring its college athlete influencers.

In total, 317 posts were made on Instagram during that time period, both directly from the athletes’ accounts and from Boost Mobile’s account featuring influencers. The company shared stats for its biggest players’ top posts on their own accounts:

  • Drew Timme: 11,805 likes/78 comments
  • Darnell Washington: 8,226 content interactions (7,527 likes/206 comments/417 shares/76 saves) 40,192 accounts reached, 47,422 impressions
  • Chase Griffin: 5,250 video views, 1,360 likes, 10 comments
  • Cavinder IG: 7,210 content interactions (6,949 likes/125 saves/92 comments/44 shares), 64,431 impressions, 56,612 reach

Those athletes were all contractually obligated to post at least four in-feed posts on Instagram.

Darnell Washington for Boost Mobile
Darnell Washington had one of the top posts for Boost Mobile’s NIL programDARNELL WASHINGTON ON INSTAGRAM

Boost Mobile also shared the top posts on its own Instagram channel featuring college athletes:

  • Cavinder Twins: 534 content interactions (424 likes/77 shares/17 saves/16 comments), 12,533 impressions, 11,051 accounts reached (50% non followers)
  • Cavinder Twins In-Store: 351 content interactions (279 likes, 41 comments, 22 saves, 9 shares), 9,865 impressions, 9,465 accounts reached
  • Drew Timme Visit: 129 content interactions, 6,215 accounts reached, 6,679 impressions
  • Player Card Post: 406 content interactions (228 likes/155 shares/13 comments/10 saves), 401 profile visits, 44 website taps, 9,343 reach, 10,711 impressions
  • Player Card Post 2: 392 content interactions, 455 profile visits, 67 website taps, 20 follows, 7,841 reach, 9,415 impressions

In-store Appearances Driving Sales

In addition to working with college athletes on social promotions, Boost also hosted six player meet-and-greets at Boost Mobile locations in key markets. Gonzaga men’s basketball athlete Drew Timme participated in a giveaway during the holiday season in Spokane, Washington where family’s could come into a store and receive a $25 off voucher for a Butterball Turkey. Boost says the goal of the campaign was to spread good will and a positive brand image for the company and for Timme.

The event location ranked #1 in the market during the month of November with a 54% month-over-month increase in sales and a 79% year-over-year increase. Digitally, a local marketing Facebook post for the event drove 6,564 impressions, 143 clicks, 21 shares and 38 positive interactions. Timme’s amplification post on Instagram drove 1,656 views and 34 comments.

Chase Griffin signing autographs at Boost Mobile
Chase Griffin signs autographs for fans at a meet-and-greet event at a Boost Mobile location in Los AngelesBOOST MOBILE

UCLA quarterback Chase Griffin also participated in a local appearance during the 2021 holiday season. Griffin joined Santa for free pictures and to help pass out gifts to kids who attended, each of whom received an autographed Chase Griffin Boost Mobile Player Card and a limited-edition t-shirt inspired by Griffin’s clothing brand BE11IEVE.

The event day at the Los Angeles location was the top-selling day for December 2021 and represented an 11% increase in sales month-over-month. The local marketing Facebook post received 3,386 impressions, 36 clicks, 21 shares and 48 positive interactions. Griffin’s amplification post on Instagram garnered another 1,522 views.

“Having these local heroes visit a Boost store near campus can increase sales in that location by almost 200%,” said Boost Mobile CEO Steven Stokols. “In addition, social posts and awareness driven by our college athletes have increased sales in local college markets where they play.”

He says the athletes themselves have also exceeded his expectations. 

“We’ve been blown away by their creativity and ambition at finding ways to not only help Boost but also make a difference in their communities, which has been the most rewarding part of this program.”

Choosing the Right Athletes

Boost’s NIL program has been built around the company’s underdog mentality, which extends to the athletes it chose to work with initially.

“We look for athletes that share the same ethos as Boost. Boost is a challenger brand looking to take on the big wireless incumbents and we like athletes who share that underdog mentality,” said Stokols. “We were the first to embrace NIL, signing the Cavinder Twins because of the underdog journey they endured as undersized basketball players. We were drawn to their story as it is Boost’s as well.”

Stokols says many athletes have reached out to Boost inquiring about opportunities to work with the brand, and they continue to sign on new athletes who live in markets where Boost stores are prevalent. However, Boost is also looking more specifically for athletes who are already customers.

“Many of our athletes have been longtime customers and already have an affinity for our brand. We care more about authenticity than notoriety. We have seen some of our more nationally recognized athletes actually deliver less than the local heroes who are more engaged.”

He says working with college athletes is different in some ways than working with professional athletes.

“Student athletes also have school on top of their sports requirements, so we have to be mindful of their time. Finally, unlike professionals, student athletes can be more authentic. We see Boost athletes wearing Boost gear unsolicited because they like the brand versus some pros that are more formal or managed.”

The scope of Boost’s program ranges across a variety of sports, including basketball, football, baseball, wrestling, and track. It also crosses the country with schools including Fresno State, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Gonzaga, as well as 38 athletes from 17 Historically Black Colleges and Universities including Alabama State, Southern University, Tennessee State University and Prairie View A&M University who will be featured in a social campaign showing the support for HBCU athletes.

Collectively, the overall influencer program has an aggregate following of 37 million with NIL athletes representing 50 percent of the talent base.

This piece originally appeared on Forbes

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