While many brands are singling out top players to partner with, some are casting a wider net–like Hooters, which in August signed 51 offensive linemen from 10 top college football programs.
And although brands are integrating college athletes into their marketing in various ways, social media remains the top go-to tactic for them all–utilized in over 90% of NIL partnerships.
Following is a snapshot of social engagement garnered by these deals (which average 2 posts per partnership) across college sports through August 2022. Top deals are ranked by average engagement per post, with a minimum of 3 posts.
A perennial fan favorite, college football’s NIL deals number 598 and include 1,235 posts. Total engagement across all posts was 2.7M, averaging 4,564 per deal, while average engagement per post was 1,618, with 4.17% of followers engaging.
- Braden Galloway (Athletic Brewing Company): 22,875
- Shedeur Sanders (Beats by Dre): 11,244
- Bryce Young (Cash App): 8,490
- Bryce Young (Logans Roadhouse): 6,870
- Bryce Young (Subway): 5,873
Despite having just 52 deals with a collective 88 posts, women’s gymnastics trumps all other college sports by social engagement, with a whopping 19M across all posts, averaging 224,327 per deal. Average engagement per post was 74,776, with 5.48% of followers engaging.
- Olivia (Livvy) Dunne (Vuori Clothing): 401,619
- Olivia (Livvy) Dunne (American Eagle Outfitters): 259,329
- Olivia (Livvy) Dunne (Bartleby Technologies): 126,714
- Jordan Chiles (GK Elite): 7,323
- Elena Arenas (Starface World): 3,688
With a total of 328 deals spanning 635 posts, men’s basketball–another high-profile fan favorite–boasts total social engagement of 3.8M, averaging 11,710 per deal. Per-post engagement averaged 4,198, with 4.54% of followers engaging.
- Adrien Nunez (Celcius): 31,376
- Shareef O'Neal (Savage x Fenty): 29,448
- Deshaun Highler (The GLD Shop): 18,880
- Deshaun Highler (VKTRY Gear): 12,778
- Jimmy Sotos (Celcius): 8,244
At 5.4M, women’s college basketball’s total social engagement is second only to women’s gymnastics–averaging 23,163 per deal, with 234 total deals spanning 430 posts. Average engagement per post was 8,828, with 4.51% of followers engaging.
- Hanna Cavinder (PSD Underwear): 138,537
- Casey Ferguson (Wingstop): 76,540
- Jada Williams (GymShark): 49,610
- Zia Cooke (H&R Block): 40,050
- Jada Williams (Spalding): 20,764
Though baseball’s storied standing as one of America’s all-time favorite sports is undeniable, its following at the college level–on social media, at least–pales in comparison to others’. With 52 deals encompassing 92 posts, total engagement was just 161,000, averaging 3,100 per deal. That said, its social followers–though few in number–are devoted: per-post engagement averaged 1,119, with a whopping 9.79% of followers engaging.
- Tim Elko (Raising Cane’s): 5,381
- Landon Sims (J. Parkerson Jewelers): 1,753
- Cayden Wallace (Academy Sports + Outdoors): 1,507
- Taylor Young (Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys): 542
- Steele Netterville (Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys): 356
With 83 deals encompassing 159 posts, softball’s total engagement was 1M, averaging 12,427 per deal. Average engagement per post was 4,352, with 5.17% of followers engaging.
- Lauren Burke (REVOLVE (Eminent): 12,736
- Montana Fouts (H&R Block): 5,614
- Jayda Coleman (Win Reality): 2,133
- Baylee Klingler (Outback Steakhouse): 1,176
- Kaley Mudge (Garnet & Gold): 1,058