Tennis is hard to match when it comes to the power of social media: only the NBA and soccer have more average followers per player, according to exclusive research from PMK BNC. And with the U.S. Open set for later this summer, tennis' social media season is in full swing.
Like other professional athletes across the sports sphere, tennis stars often use their large social footprints as leverage in their deals with major brands.
The strategic marketing and communications firm found Facebook to be the preeminent platform for fan engagement and brand promotion, but different athletes use the social nets in different ways—and with varying levels of success.
"Most players see a drop in engagement when they incorporate messages from their sponsors," said Joanne Melzer, vp of strategy and insights at PMK BNC. "The exception is Andy Murray, whose fans seem to be more engaged in his branded content than
Melzer noted that Rafael Nadal sees the greatest drop in engagement—in spite of having the highest number of followers—with branded posts garnering only 21 percent of the engagement of his personal posts.
Serena Williams has the lowest drop in engagement. "We suspect that this is because there is little difference in style between her personal and branded posts," Melzer said.
Here's a look at eight of the top tennis stars, their social media following and major recent endorsement deals—as well as an analysis by the firm of their use of branded posts.
This story first appeared in the July 6 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.