Footballers realize that social networks make a lot of money with their fans. Correspondingly, the stars are looking for ways to get a piece of the cake.

Misha Sher spoke with Digiday on the role of social media footballers. Sher is VP of Sports & Entertainment at Mediacom. He says: “The industry attracts millions of fans who follow stars like Cristiano Ronaldo on Facebook. The truth though is that they’re not his fans, but Facebook fans. Facebook earns a lot of money by showing ads to these fans, but none of the revenue ends up with him. The players now realize that they will provide the quality interaction, but someone else will be paid for it.”

CR7 and his colleagues have no money problems. But the social media footballers are discovering their value to Facebook and YouTube. Instead of turning away from the platforms, they are pushing strategies to take advantage of their value. The basic principle: players actively use social media in order to better position themselves with sponsors and clubs.

What makes good social media footballers?

Players like Gareth Bale (Real Madrid) or Neymar (PSG) earn revenue when they post content to Dugout. About 10 million fans visit the site monthly. At the same time, two billion people monthly use Facebook. Dugout is “the lucrative platform,” according to Digiday. To provide the exclusive content, players or clubs receive 50 percent of the advertising revenue. In addition, the content producers get access to the Dugout user data.

Facebook knows that it must keep the social media footballers happy. The social network looks for original content and is in conversations with big football stars. No names have been confirmed yet. Should one of the stars take up Facebook’s offer, he will probably also be keeping in the back of his mind, Facebook’s increasing focus on TV. Content producers can monetize their shows, thanks to promotional breaks or sponsored content. According to Digiday, Facebook may also begin making direct payments to the players in the future.

YouTube has not been as active in football player acquisition as Facebook. Digiday referred to a provider of sports content. This provider felt that player content is a blessing for YouTube. Finally, the video platform might be able to be more independent from advertising, which would help it establish its fledgling subscription model.

Clubs and players prefer Facebook to YouTube. However, according to the Digiday source, even more money is flowing on YouTube. This is something to the liking of Juan Mata of Manchester United, for example. Mata has had his own YouTube channel since 2015. Currently, with his agency Dark Horses, he is promoting a film series which is promoting a charity event.

To be successful as an influencer, footballers rely on being ambitious and authentic. “New stars should be allowed to be themselves. This is how ‘real brands’ are created in sports, not cookie-cutter celebrities that fans can’t identify with, “says Kelvyn Gardner. Gardner is the Managing Director of the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. “Football remains the most popular and commercially successful sport in the world, and its based on traditional values. The sport will grow more if it can stay true to itself.”