As a professional triathlete in the 21st century, your brand and social media presence is often as important as your race results when it comes to securing sponsorship deals and support.
In order to make a living, the majority of top athletes have to spend a considerable amount of time and effort creating content to provide value for their sponsors.
With over 180,000 Instagram followers and 55,000 subscribers on YouTube, Gwen Jorgensen is one of triathlon’s most followed athletes. However, the Olympic gold medallist admitted that managing her online presence hasn’t always come naturally.
“Social media has changed so much, and so have I”
Speaking with TRI247 about the changes she has observed in social media trends within the professional triathlon community since her return to the sport, Jorgensen said that during the past season she had at times let the online pressure get to her.
“Social media has changed so much, and so have I. Some of my early triathlon races were not great because I felt pressure from the media or needing to do posts or say certain things.
“I used to get nervous when cameras were around. When I started running, my husband, Patrick, convinced me to start a YouTube channel. I was very hesitant as I did not, and do not, enjoy the spotlight. It is part of the job, but not the part I love.”
Fortunately, the American has a great team around her including her husband Patrick Lemieux, which has allowed her to have a little more separation from the content side of professional triathlon.
“When we started the YouTube channel thankfully Patrick hired someone very easy to work with who made it easy for me. I didn’t have to do anything extra and could just go about my business. To this day we use people who are easy to work with – Talbot Cox, Kenny Withrow, and others.”
“Having social media makes it easy to help”
Whilst Jorgensen may not particularly enjoy her media responsibilities, she admits that it does have some upsides, with the ability to connect with fans and share her journey to inspire other people a big bonus.
“In a way, it’s gotten easier as an athlete because now we produce our own media. I used to have to travel to places to do photo shoots and other commitments but now we are able to create media from the comforts of home without travel.
“For social media I try to be authentic and communicate with fans and followers. To be honest, last year was one of my worst years at reading and responding to comments. This was mostly due to lack of sleep with a newborn.
“This year I have been better at reading and responding like I have previously. I think it’s amazing that we are able to communicate with fans as it’s a great way to inspire and share my journey where some people could hopefully learn.
“One part of my mission statement is to help others and having social media makes it easy to help. Sometimes all it takes is one sentence to help someone and that’s pretty darn cool.
“Social media is also what allows me to earn money. Sponsors don’t come easily but when they do come around I try my best to create a mutually beneficial partnership with companies that I believe and trust in.”