Study Shows how College Athletes are Outperforming Influencers on Social Media

Last Updated on September 18, 2023

Athletes and influencers wield significant social media influence, but a substantial following does not necessarily guarantee robust engagement. Captiv8, a technology company specializing in data analytics, influencer strategies, and social insights, has determined that college athletes surpass traditional influencers on various social media platforms. 

Captiv8 conducted an analysis of Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter to compare the performance of college athletes and influencers. The research revealed that among the 319 college athletes observed, each with 20,000 or more followers, college athletes outperformed standard influencers by 1.2 times on Instagram, two times on TikTok, and an astonishing 10 times on Twitter when evaluating their respective social media posts. 

These social platforms serve as channels for college athletes to cultivate their followings and leverage their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Many NIL deals are prominently featured on these platforms, offering brands an effective means of exposure. College athletes frequently engage in external sponsorships to enhance their personal brands. However, these findings suggest that brands can also achieve exposure by partnering with college athletes on its social media platforms. 

Furthermore, Captiv8 noted that college athletes consistently outperformed industry benchmarks by a minimum of seven times, with men’s basketball leading the pack with an 11-fold overperformance. Additionally, the Women’s Olympic Sports Score indicated that female college athletes garnered the most engaged audience, boasting a remarkable 5.18% engagement rate on Twitter. 

The superior performance of college athletes can be attributed to their status as trusted representatives of their respective universities, contributing to their high brand safety. They also enjoy high visibility thanks to their connections with prominent figures at local and national levels. College athletes effectively harness the power of school pride and sports fandom, engaging alumni, fans, and donors to cultivate a dedicated and loyal audience. 

Popular social media platform TikTok features a diverse array of college athletes and content. Football-related content exhibits a significantly higher engagement rate on the platform, surpassing the industry benchmark by four times. However, it’s not limited to football; other college athletes like Livvy Dunne, an LSU gymnast, and well-known TikToker, boast high social media engagement. She utilizes her platform to share her daily life and college gymnastics content. 

In summary, it is evident that college athletes have a substantial influence, and their engagement rates deserve comparison to those of standard influencers. When seeking sponsorships and promotional partnerships, companies should consider the potential advantages of collaborating with college athletes. 

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