Some of you know me, others don’t. To be fair I’m not really bothered how you feel about my credentials, but I’ll give them anyway. I'm James Burfield, the founder of MX Vice and director of engagement for Piptook, and I’ve been working in digital since 1999. This means you might think you know a bit but, trust me, you’re just scratching the surface.
To back up my knowledge I have also worked for many of the leading brands in a digital capacity you wear or use day-to-day, the brands with average social and digital performance you don’t see much online are yet to call me. Yep, it sounds big headed, but I’m good at this. I have the data and I have the insights; I’m not making guesses, as I already have the answers. But, just because I know a bit doesn't mean to say I can stop learning. Every day the digital landscape changes from these things called ‘algorithms’.
If a company wants to make more money they change their algorithm to make sure you pay them more money to promote and keep the shareholders and the market happy. It’s my job to keep my clients one step ahead of these changes, find influencers and produce something called an ROI (return on investment). Crazily enough these guys want results on the extortionate amounts of money they pay me.
Now that I have got my intro out the way, let’s talk about the real reason you’re reading this article. Motocross is expensive and you need support. The landscapes are changing and riders with a large social media presence are getting paid just as much as the people grinding out the results. Why? Well, if you’re reliant on getting a picture in a magazine read by two-thousand people to help your sponsors sell more products then you don’t stand a chance. The people still using this as a metric to measure with will be out of a job very soon. A brand will now look at how much you can influence your following. You need a following and I’m not talking about your four hundred and twenty-four mates on Facebook.
What I want you guys to do is start thinking about the basics. How many of you actually tag a sponsor into a post who currently support you, whether it is free kit or a 10% discount? How many of you have a Facebook business page? For those that think just because you are an amateur or youth rider and you don’t need a Facebook page think again. I have lost count of the amount of riders I have seen with personal Facebook pages who are thanking people and explaining how their race went the weekend, then two posts later are sharing a racist or controversial post.
Let me let you into a little secret: This makes current and potential sponsors very twitchy. I had a two-hour meeting with a client today who wanted to help out a local lad, but follow what he posts on social media. That client does not want to be associated with that rider's opinion, no matter how good he/she is. They don’t want their brand associated with controversy, as it’s hard enough out there to make sales in competitive markets without being connected to that.
Here is another little secret: These companies are checking your social not only to see if you are able to bring something to the table, other than results, but also to influence. Are you able to talk to your community of friends, family and people who take an interest in your riding and talk positively about the products you use? There are companies checking this and there are companies measuring this. Did you know that there are tools out there being used by Fox, Monster, Seven and many other brands that can analyse to see if you talk positively or negatively on social and how you are perceived? Like I said, you think you may know a little about social. But, trust me, there are tools out there that will probably make you think about closing your social media accounts altogether.
If you have read this far, I’m going to first say thank you and I’m also going to reward you with a list of things to do and avoid. Why? I want to help you. I want to see motocross expand, not decrease, and by you promoting yourself properly means you are promoting these brands, which in turn makes these brands support the sport more as their sales increase.
Right, here is your homework…
– Create an athlete business page on Facebook.
– Add a good profile picture and a cover photo.
– Add images, videos and reports if you have them.
– Add any links to websites or magazines (scan them in).
– Start producing your own race reports, but if you missed some of school then please get someone to check your grammar and spelling. For those with no friends, there is an app/tool called ‘Grammarly.' It's free!
– Follow any company that supports you on social media by liking their page.
You have now taken the first step into being professional without being a professional. A little fun fact, only two riders in the top ten in the Maxxis British Championship have Facebook business pages. What are the eight people without it doing to get sponsorship for next year?
Regarding your Facebook personal page, I would recommend thinking twice about what to post if you are looking for support. This information and knowledge I’m sharing is absolutely wasted on you if you share racist, homophobic or other controversial posts that would distress people. The same goes for Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat … Yep, you read that right, they look at that too.
This article and further articles are for those people who want to get the support and understand that they need to do this, but quite frankly don’t know what the best way forward is. So, for those who are keen and want to crack on before next week’s social media post, here are some more…
– Create a Twitter account for riding.
– Create an Instagram account for riding.
– If you want to post personal content, I suggest making your personal accounts private and make sure that your friends are unable to share your thoughts if they are negative.
– Make sure that no brand owners follow you on your personal account.
Let’s talk about influence and what an influencer is. When you rock up on a Sunday to go racing with your mates, then turn around to talk about Ken Roczen's post or Axell Hodges' huge whip, you are talking about influencers. What they have posted has influenced you and if your friends answer, then they are influencing them. If this happens daily when you are talking about them over social/text etc. with friends this reinforces that fact that what they are saying/doing is in fact influencing you.
Anyway, to recap all of this…
– I’m good at social media and I want to help you get your shizz together to smash the Dirt Bike Show/EICMA when you go to talk to local companies, dealers or brands.
– Set a Facebook business page up.
– Start looking at what you are posting and how that will be perceived by a company if you are looking for support.
– Understand influencers.
Next week I’m going to give examples and plan a strategy for you.
Words: James Burfield | Images: MPS Images