Social media has become the standard way for athletes and brands to reach new audiences around the world and connect with fans. The misconception may be that it is only those with powerful brands that are able to create loyal fans and communities around them.
This could not be farther from the truth.
Even those in the football industry with more humble characteristics can create wonderful opportunities for themselves as long as they bring a unique angle to the table.
Our guest today is a prime example of this. Soheil Var is an entrepreneur who has built a community of more than 500K followers by documenting his journey toward becoming a professional football player on social media.
In this exclusive conversation with WFS Digest we cover:
Soheil’s journey so far, including the ups and downs
Practical advice and tips on how to create content on social media, with a particular focus on Tik Tok.
Lessons he learned from working with top-tier football properties like LaLiga, Real Madrid or Espanyol
Follow Soheil on social media to learn more about his journey!
WFS: Why did you decide to document your journey and “build in public”?
Soheil Var: When I was young, I had that dream that everybody has to become a pro football/soccer player. So I took many shots at it (trials, getting benched, playing poorly, etc.) and after so many different failures, I decided to document my experience to inspire other people while helping them understand what the journey is like both from the positive and negative side.
I would say my main goal is to provide the resources and the tools for players to get to the next level in every aspect of their life.
WFS: What are some of the “ups” and “downs” you have faced while documenting your journey in public?
Soheil: So there’s definitely been a lot of rewarding moments and a lot of challenging moments. The most rewarding have been meeting fans in person, meeting people who tuned into the content in person and getting to hear the impact that I’ve made on their journey.
If we go to the flipside of the most challenging, I’ve had a lot of those moments where everything seems to be crumbling, everything seems to be going wrong. But that’s when you have to keep going, that’s when you have to keep showing up.
WFS: How do you plan the content that you put out?
Soheil: I have three main content pillars: One of them is documenting my journey.
The second one is information and education; these are content pieces where I provide resources tools, and a set of information to players to help them out.
And the third one is comedy and entertainment.
Documenting my journey, information & education, and comedy are the three pillars of my content strategy
WFS: What advice do you have for creating successful content on Tik Tok?
Soheil: I’ll outline the recipe for anybody who’s listening because it’s a fantastic recipe for short format content to get pushed out, but as with any recipe, each one needs to find their own version.
Create content that’s between 10 to 30 seconds long.
Make sure you have a very engaging hook. That first clip in your video needs to engage the audience. Or else they’ll just swipe.
For the first two seconds of the video, you have to make it very visually appealing. Text that gets them curious and excited about what is that video.
You need to use music or you need to use audio that’s either trending or that allows the content piece to have more emotions attached to it.
Essentially, if you’re able to tap into emotions, excitement, fear, frustration, happiness, and gratitude, the content will often do a lot better.
WFS: And is there any specific advice you have for “smaller” football clubs?
Soheil: So if you’re a smaller football club, document, the process of your football club, that’s going to be huge.
If you actually document where your football club is at right now. And share the season, the training sessions, share players connecting with fans… There are so many different content pieces that you can do under the umbrella of sharing the journey of your football club.
First, though, you need to understand:
- What are you trying to achieve?
- Why are you trying to achieve it?
- What makes you unique?
A couple of other things I’ll say is that videos are becoming more and more authentic. They’re filmed on the phone “at the moment.” So you don’t need a 4k camera just to record your club. It’s really about capturing the moment, it’s very authentic.
You have to spend a couple of minutes every day on those platforms, studying what works, what doesn’t, and the trends.
At the end of the day, Football is a game of opinions. So if you create content that stimulates people to express their opinions, then you’re really maximizing the potential of football on social media.
If you’re able to tap into emotions, the content will often do a lot better.
WFS: You’ve worked with important brands in the world of sport. What have you learned from working with them?
Soheil: In football, I’ve done work with Real Madrid and Espanyol among others and there’s been a range of those big brands. Let’s talk about football clubs though.
So Real Madrid is obviously a huge club, so when you’re working with brands like that they’re already doing things at the biggest level. So if you have an opportunity to collaborate with them, do something big and unique.
That’s what I did. For both of them. We got millions of views, very good engagement, and 1000s of new followers. Obviously, big brands will have those guidelines and those corporate restrictions that you need to follow. But if you have your shot with them, don’t be boring. Try and push those boundaries wherever you can. Because that’s going to be the part of what’s going to be the recipe for innovation, right?
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WFS: What mindset guides your thinking? What helps you stay resilient?
Soheil: The mindset shift for me is, “what if,” what if you actually go and take the risk? What if you actually go and pursue that big dream that you’ve always had?
But you’d never quite taken the first step forward? Because of what people might think of you because of you failing? What would that story look like? How would you feel? At the end of it, if you go in and you achieve that big goal, if you keep showing up? If you take the risk? Despite the hate that might come in despite the judgment, mistakes, and setbacks, and you keep showing up?
Imagine the storyline, imagine how you would feel imagine the impact you would make on all the people. That is the mindset shift that has helped me so much.
This interview is featured in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.