Social media has been instrumental for the growth and exposure of different sports and athletes. Today we’re talking to Cody Flom, a scooter rider who has grown a 17,000 following on Instagram at just 14 years old. Cody and his photographer, sister Gabriella, have agreed to chat to FanFuel live from Orange County (CA) about how the digital revolution has changed the landscape of scooter riding and sponsorship opportunities.
Hi Cody, at 14 years old you are a true ‘digital native’, when did you start posting scooter content on social media?
Hi FanFuel! In 2011 my sister Gabriella started taking pictures of me riding scooters and posting them online and a year later, when I turned 12, I saw videos online of kids like me trying to get themselves noticed by sponsors so I thought it would be cool to try doing the same thing.
When and how did you realize that social media could help you gain sponsorship?
Since I can remember there were voices going around the local skate & scooter parks about how shooting videos and uploading them on YouTube could help secure sponsorship. The big change really happened for me when I started seeing what the scooter pros were doing on social media, it really opened my eyes to the possibilities.
What kind of requirements and commitments do you have with your sponsors when using social media?
Currently I’m sponsored by Lucky Scooters, the Scooter Farm and A three Designs. There isn’t a strict schedule I have to stick by, most of the time you post when you just finished riding and have some new content to share. I also receive packages with gear from my sponsors and I always thank them publicly, usually by posting a photo of all the new equipment laid out and tagging the brand. Lucky Scooters is also one of the scooter brands with the highest amount of YouTube channel subscribers, so there’s a lot of request from them for video content to fill their strict posting schedule. As a Lucky ambassador I send them videos of my tricks that they can upload to their channel and help grow their audience with.
Now that you’re sponsored by Lucky Scooters, the largest scooter manufacturer, how do they want you to engage with your audience on social media?
As long as I make sure to mention the brand and the gear they send me how I engage with my audience is up to me. I also just post on my own about what I’m doing, who I’m hanging out and riding with, there’s quite a lot of creative freedom online and I love that. For example last Christmas Lucky Scooters was having a 7-day online sale, so Gabriella and I came up with the idea of creating a video series called “7 days of Lucky Christmas” during which I would post a daily video of myself using various Lucky products.
What qualities to Lucky Scooters look for in their riders?
They like people who are nice, smiley and talkative. They want their athletes to be approachable both on social media and in person, they want us to be good ambassadors by talking to kids and giving off good vibes. They also like riders who are striving to get on the podium at competitions, not so much as pressure to win but to inspire a desire to get better at competitions. The majority of the time it’s Lucky Scooter riders who are in the top 10 on the podium, so they see these results as a motivation to keep trying to be the best you can be.
Do you think social media is important for the evolution of the sport?
Definitely. I especially like the “how to” videos that are out there, they’ve really helped me improve my techniques. Before social media I didn’t even know that scooter riding was an actual sport outside of my skate park! I think it encourages kids to pursue what they love and keep getting better. It also sparks friendships outside of your local area, a teammate of mine actually just spent a month in Australia staying with a fellow scooter friend he met on Instagram! Social media inspires a huge camaraderie across the world. We give each other feedback online and chat about scooter related things. We had some kids from England come over to the States and we were able to meet them and ride together, all thanks to contact via social media.
Social media lets you see things you otherwise might not have discovered.
What kind of resources do you have to draw on in terms of managing your social media? Do you have a team who help you post?
My sister Gabriella and I take care of managing my social media platforms. She’s a brilliant photographer; I’m lucky to have someone who can capture great content for me to post. I use the big four, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Gaby actually does the tweeting because it’s not really that popular with my peers but it’s still important to keep it active to attract sponsors and grow my influence. We have a lot to keep up with since we like to keep it varied, we don’t want the same content to be shared all the time across all platforms, we’d rather it be fresh and exciting.
How does a young athlete like yourself deal with negative feedback on social media?
Usually I don’t get too much, but if it happens I just delete it and don’t let it affect me. If you’re being positive in what you say with your posts then it’s harder to receive negative feedback.
How do you think your interactions with other scooter riders on social media change the way you interact in real life? Does it drive rivalry or does it drive collaboration and support?
Most of the time when I’ve talked to other scooter riders online it’s collaborative, so it’s pretty easy to transfer the relationship from social media to reality. We’re a tight knit community, riding and doing what we love, so it doesn’t really matter who is sponsored by who, we’re all like brothers. It’s really neat to have kids who are not from local areas come to the competitions. Some of them are from states where it’s much colder and there isn’t much of a scooter community, so the fact that they can now participate has been made so much easier by contact via social media. We’re all really supportive of each other.
Do you have any tips for young scooter riders who want to get sponsored?
Two words: determination and motivation.
Don’t let the failures that happen along the way get in the way of your progress, confidence will drive you to meet your goals.
How would you like the future of sports sponsorship to grow? Do you think that social media will change how things are done today?
Social Media has already changed how we interact, it has pulled riders, enthusiasts, pros and scooter companies together. The best thing about it is being able to talk to everybody as equals, to reach anyone I want at the press of a button. With the proper promotion I hope our sport can grow into a huge industry like skateboarding. It would be nice to see brands invest in individuals who focus on team management for the sponsored riders. We have one at Lucky Scooters and we rely on him so much! It’s great to have a go-to person because even in the small world of scooter riding the owners of the companies are usually too busy to be able to interact with us.
Follow Cody’s scooter adventures in Instagram @codyflom