Tweet You Say? Building your Brand as a Para-Athlete by Jan Ditchfield

I recently did a group presentation on the “how” to develop a personalized brand as a para-athlete using social media. What I took from the opportunity was that we aren’t having enough conversations about the “why”; as in why it is so important to be online and to claim your brand from the onset. As a para-athlete, your brand will play a key factor in sponsorship endorsements, media opportunities and raising awareness of your sport outside of traditional market spaces. If you are not online, you need to be. Social media is a huge part in the development of your brand. Like it or not, it’s here to stay and the online community you create can be the defining factor in how you are known in the public eye.

I am are sharing some of PARA-Promotions’ Top Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when you are building your brand using social media.


Set a game plan from the beginning. Identify what you want to be known for in the public eye and be strategic about how and what you are sharing. Approach building your brand and audience through targeted, smart, and focused efforts just like you would approach training. The best results will come from a defined plan of action.

Consistency is key. From your online pictures, to bio, to background choices – keep your brand represented on all of your social media platforms in a consistent manner. Make your choices count in order to maximize them.

Picture of Brian Cowie's Twitter bio and cover photo

Do This!
An example of an effective Twitter bio and cover photos.

Own your brand. This is where your content strategy sharing will really prove itself. Define yourself as a voice to be respected online in your field by sharing topics and information of value to your community and to those you have yet to engage. Choose three areas that you want to build your reputation in and share content that reflects this. Your athletic career in your sport of choice should always be one of these areas; but mix up the content with things outside of that to broaden your following and reputation within different communities. Be honest and be real.

Be social from the start. Talk with others who are following you; retweet, like and comment on posts that are shared by others. Building relationships online is as important as the ones you have face to face. By engaging in sharing socially, you will build respect and community support that can be used to help your career as it develops.

Be graceful, but not timid. Say thank you to those who talk about you, but don’t be afraid to reach out or share information on your own successes also. Some of the best opportunities will come from letting someone know that you could be a benefit to their community. Grab the brass ring with both hands and don’t let go.


Be an egg head. The biggest mistake that can be made on social media is not completing your profile before launching your accounts in the public eye. Leaving the Twitter egg up as your picture and not writing a bio about yourself makes most of us think you’re either not a real person using the account or lazy. Don’t push yourself out into the online world if you’re not willing to commit to the time it takes to manage your accounts.

Image of an incomplete Twitter bio with egg head picture.

Don’t do this!

Be an ass. Using social media as a way to vent your personal opinions on others or to slam your NSO publically is not the best form to take. However it is and can be a very strong platform for smart and effective advocacy. It’s all about the social after

Ignore your accounts. If you are not willing to dedicate a minimum of 20 minutes per day to your social media presence, don’t start accounts. Having accounts is simply not enough to build your online reputation; you need to monitor them daily and use them. Trust me when I say, if you’re online you are being watched. Make sure to utilize this to its fullest.

Ignore your audience. If you have 500 followers and are only following 25 people back it screams of pretension and a lack of engagement with your fan base. You don’t need to follow everyone back who follows you on Twitter or reply to every comment on your Facebook account, but you do need to reply, retweet and engage in conversations. Be smart and effective with your accounts.

Limit your market. It’s easy to engage with an audience that you already feel comfortable with, but don’t be limited by it. Make sure you are using your accounts to expand your markets by following people outside of it. Your greatest social brand will be built by a community of people who know you, want to know you and are generally interested in what you are offering to the public forums. Think outside the box.

Building a brand does not happen overnight, but once you begin to take the steps to define how you want to be known in the public eye you are one step closer to success. Oh, and if @PARA_Promotions follows you…follow us back. We will share and talk about you often!


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