$1,800 per Instagram post? What Mississippi athletes can now earn as social media influencers
There's money to be made in Mississippi.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bill on April 16 allowing college athletes in Mississippi to be paid for their names, images and likenesses effective July 1. That means athletes at schools like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss and Jackson State will be able to profit off anything from signing autographs to making public appearances to serving as an advertising spokesperson.
How individual athletes respond to these opportunities is yet to be seen. But there's no denying that certain athletes are better positioned to profit off their celebrity than others. Among them are Ole Miss quarterbacks Matt Corral and John Rhys Plumlee, Southern Miss running back Frank Gore Jr., and Jackson State's Shedeur and Shilo Sanders.
If you're unfamiliar with the social media world, you might not understand just how profitable being a social media influencer can be. Sponsored posts on apps like Instagram and Twitter are easy to do and can be super lucrative for posters with large followings.
Gore has 24,542 combined Twitter and Instagram followers. Plumlee has 53,016. Corral has 67,113. Then there's Jackson State football coach Deion Sanders' two sons: Shilo Sanders has 270,855; Shedeur Sanders is the state's most marketable athlete with 392,470 followers.
Using Influencer Marketing Hub's Instagram Money Calculator, we can estimate Shedeur Sanders can make as much as $1,851 per sponsored Instagram post and as much as $279 per sponsored tweet. Shilo Sanders could make up to $1,256 per Instagram post and $260 per tweet.
Corral's Twitter account is roughly as valuable, netting him up to $263 per tweet, but his Instagram presence is only worth a more modest $411 per sponsored post. Plumlee's value is estimated at $203 per tweet and $336 per Instagram post. Gore's social media presence can be valued at up to $100 per tweet and up to $195 per Instagram post.
NIL: How to calculate influencer earning potential
These estimates can be arrived at by considering a player's follower count, the average number of likes the player gets per post and the percentage of followers who engage with any given post. Using Shedeur Sanders as an example, about 9% of his followers engage with an average Instagram post, meaning more than 33,000 people click on, like or share his average posts.
For what it's worth, the same calculator estimates that Deion Sanders could make as much as $5,711 per Instagram post and up to $15,198 per sponsored tweet. Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin isn't an active Instagram user but the calculator estimates he could earn as much as $6,116 per sponsored tweet.
Social media influence isn't restricted to the sons of NFL legends and hyper-popular quarterbacks. Take someone like Mississippi State wide receiver Jaden Walley. Walley has 3,661 Twitter followers and a 4.8% engagement rate. Even though his following is modest compared to Corral and the Sanders brothers, he still could earn around $50 for a sponsored tweet.
Reach also isn't limited to football players. Ole Miss women's basketball player Shakira Austin could make $150-$250 off Instagram posts. Mississippi State men's basketball player Iverson Molinar could make $77-$128 per Instagram post. Ole Miss baseball player Doug Nikhazy could make $69-$115 per Instagram post.
Of course, social media influencing is just one leg of advertising. Athletes might be valued differently in local markets. For example, a Southern Miss football player might be worth more to a small-town business in Hattiesburg than a Mississippi State football player.
Still, this is the simplest and one of the least time-consuming avenues for Mississippi's college athletes to pursue. If someone like Shedeur Sanders can make almost $2,000 for posting on Instagram, why shouldn't he?
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.