Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been a boon to pro athletes' marketing and fan engagement abilities. But even those mega-platforms have limits to their rewards, say the creators of the new social network JockTalk.
JockTalk's goal is to enhance the branding leverage social networks have given athletes, and allow them to directly create income for themselves or charities through digital social interaction with fans. The site was co-founded by former Major League Baseball All-Star Shawn Green and entrepreneur Brendon Kensel.
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"We saw there was a gap in the fact that athletes were jumping on social media in droves, but there wasn't a bridge where revenue was being generated on social media sites for the athletes and their charities," Green told Mashable.
JockTalk is launching in private beta this week. It's already convinced an impressive roster of some 60 athletes from major American sports leagues to join. The list includes Kevin Love and Deron Williams from the NBA, the NFL's Wes Welker, pro baseball player Heath Bell, and the NHL's Logan Couture. On the back end, veteran CTO Monte Bell is designing the site's architecture.
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So how will Love, Welker and company use JockTalk to make money? Athletes will have profiles on the network, as will regular fans. The site will be monetized through ad hosting, member-generated content syndication and a sports-related e-commerce platform.
Athletes will get a cut of that revenue according to how active they are, will be able to decide how much goes to charities they support or how much they want to pocket themselves. They'll also be able to host fundraisers and promotions on-site, as well as videos and other exclusive content.
Athletes' JockTalk accounts will be linked to their mainstream social accounts. They'll be able to send out the beginnings of 300-character posts (JockTalk's maximum) via Twitter, for example, to take advantage of their large followings there and attract visitors back to the site for the full message.
"Players and fans will actually be using their Twitter names, so part of our objective is to create an integrated experience," Kensel says. "We're not asking athletes to change their behavior."
That will be key to JockTalk becoming a success, as there's no way a site a can simply replace the stage Twitter and Facebook have given pro athletes. But if players are able to use those established networks to actually draw significant numbers of their fans to JockTalk, even just for brief visits, Kensel and Green could really have something.
JockTalk is entirely self-funded for the time being, although in an interview with Mashable its co-founders sounded open to taking on investors. An iOS mobile app is expected in June, with an Android version to follow. The site will remain invitation-only for fans for the time being, but don't expect much real barrier for entry.
"Playing pro ball for 16 years, I have a lot of relationships with players and former players," Green says. "Players are very excited and the feedback I'm getting is that there's a need for this sort of thing and the biggest factor for them is what it could mean for their charitable work."
Do you think JockTalk can gain traction in the world of sports and social media? Let us know in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.