Haven’t you ever wondered what the life of a Red Bull athlete is like? Luckily Fanfuel knew just who to ask. Colombian born Jhonathan Florez is the daredevil of the skies, a tier one athlete specialised in Skydiving, BASE Jumping and Wingsuit flying. Jhonathan has positioned himself at the world top ranking of these sports, has achieved 4 Guinness World Records and currently competes professionally as well as fulfilling his full time sponsorship duties.
Tell us a bit what it’s like to be a Red Bull athlete. Is it everything athletes dreams about? How much work is involved?
It’s amazing, I actually get to do the activities that I truly love to do, I get to go on incredible trips and I am given the best equipment out there, but there is definitely a lot of work involved that people don’t see. I think people don’t really understand how the game is played – everybody wants to be a sponsored athlete, but nobody wants to put the work onto their social media profile, like creating content and tagging sponsors, some of these things are fundamentally important if you want to stay relevant as an athlete. There is no easy way in, you have to have passion and love for the sport you are involved in and not just want to reap the fruit of the work immediately.
Does Red Bull allow you to post whatever content you like on social media or do you follow specific briefs? Tell us a bit about what your commitments are with Red Bull in social media.
With Red Bull it’s pretty flexible, there’s no contract specifying how many posts I have to publish a week or what I have to tag, so I post whenever I see its relevant and of course in that case I use all the appropriate tags and links. I also have other sponsors to keep track of so I have calendars to make sure I’m mentioning everyone, I need to ensure that my sponsors are happy with my work. If I’m busy on any given day I can still guarantee that the posts get published by using some of the amazing social automation tools that are out there, like Tweepy and Crowdfire.
For the athletes that dream about getting sponsored by Red Bull what qualities do they look for in an athlete?
Red Bull looks for an athlete who is original and safe, as in, someone with a great track record and ample experience in their sport and that has proven that they can represent a brand and stay alive. They look for good personalities like any company and they like people that are self-promoters and go-getters. This is especially important for any young athletes that want to make sport their career, start promoting yourself on social media, start creating your audience and don’t wait around for someone else to do it!
In order to get sponsored you need validation from people in the industry, references, results, an audience on social media and great content. Building those things is a full-time job and takes time.
When did you first start building your online audience? Which social media platforms do you use?
It was about 7 years ago when I started realizing I needed to push content out and start featuring myself in videos in different platforms. At the time there wasn’t such a developed social media structure as there is now: I could upload videos on Facebook, but there were no ‘athlete pages’ and there was no Instagram yet. One thing I knew was that companies were interested in having athletes that were extremely marketable, so I made a big effort to keep and catalogue every TV appearance I had been in, every news article, magazine and little publication I was featured on – this exposure was my way of proving my value to a potential sponsor. Now I’m on all the social media channels, there are so many and it’s a challenge to keep them all going!
How hard is it to keep your audience engaged with your posts?
I have days where I sit down and just create content. Let me show you my content grid – shows table and calendar – I have a whole document that I update constantly: I have divided a grid table into different categories such as: competitions, gear I’m using, videos, BASE Jump memories, etc… And those categories are in turn divided into different subjects. Right now I have 41 different subjects I’m writing content about! I also put everything into folders, being organized is a must. W hen I see a video I like online I can just drop the link into one of my subjects boxes and write down why I think it would be relevant to my audience if I shared it.
How much time do you spend on this on a weekly basis?
My week is divided into two, I spend from Monday to Wednesday basically all day on the computer: answering emails, sourcing and preparing social media content and following up on projects I’m working on. This interview is actually the third Skype meeting I’ve had today and I’ve had a few visitors over as well to discuss a couple of new productions. Thursday to Saturday are my jumping days and Sundays are for family!
It is a long journey and it takes time to build an audience on social media, but your passion will guide you!
BASE Jump fringes on legality in most spots, how do companies who sponsor BASE Jumpers get around this negative stigma?
The act of BASE Jumping itself is not illegal, what’s illegal is trespassing to reach certain jumping locations. If you represent a company you can’t do anything illegal, take Sebastian Vettel for example, he is a top driver sponsored by Red Bull and Infiniti, do you see him going against traffic flow on the highway? When you are sponsored you have to use reason and common sense to determine what is allowed and what is not. It’s the same for BASE jumpers, you can’t have an athlete who is sponsored by international companies illegally break into a building and jump off it as a publicity stunt.
In what way do you think brands could benefit from sponsoring a BASE Jumper?
Well the activities that we do are inspirational, the jumps are vital with extremely high-risk components, people like to watch the footage so any media sponsor would definitely benefit. BASE Jumping is pretty epic, it defies the limits of what is humanly possible and I think there is traction in that alone.
What questions do athletes normally get answered before getting sponsored by a big company like Red Bull?
Potential ambassadors should know the answers for these questions:
- What other companies have you worked for?
- How many productions (videos) have you been part of?
- For how many years have you been doing this activity for?
- Give me an overview of your social media channels? Where is your audience demographics?
- Who manages your social media?
- What [else] do you do for living?
How much do your sponsors care about your social media presence? Do they care about what you do online and how many people you are able to reach?
Social Media has brought a massive change into the sporting industry, sponsors care a lot about how many people you are reaching. However, followers are conditional on good engagement, sponsors look for a high level of activity so please do not buy followers! Having a social media account with fake followers is a big deterrent for sponsors because it means that you are actually not an opinion leader, if you don’t have genuine engagement then you are not a trend setter.
What is your vision of the future of sport sponsorship with social media being so important nowadays? How would you like the industry to move forward?
The answer is what you are doing in FanFuel. Keeping up with the focus on social media for sponsorship for that is getting increasingly more relevant so there is definitely a need for a hub where all these needs can be satisfied. Nowadays everyone has a fanpage but there are a lot of important things that differentiate a professional, well-established athlete from people that are just starting, so the sporting community needs a ‘training ground’ to educate them on the changing landscape of media and how it can be leveraged for sponsorship and a career.
To keep up with Jhonny follow him @FlorezAir