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UCLA Student-Athletes Elevate Game By Launching Influencer Club for Social Media-Savvy

Talent Collectives

UCLA Student-Athletes Elevate Game By Launching Influencer Club for Social Media-Savvy

A new peer-led organization has launched at UCLA to help student-athletes elevate their personal brands and grow their social media followings. The Athlete Influencer Club (AIC) meets weekly for specialized workshops, photoshoots, and speaker events.

Founded by fifth-year swimmer Aislinn Walsh, who serves as president, the AIC aims to create a supportive community for athletes looking to build their creator economy presence. “I started this club to create a judgment-free zone on something I feel like can be easily judged by our peers.” 

She has pointed out the purpose of the newly founded club is to forge a strong collective based on mutual support. “I wanted to have a community where we could create together and share our success outside of athletics,” Walsh says.

Membership has no minimum follower requirement – the only criterion is an active participation commitment. Some individuals had over 100,000 TikTok followers while others were just getting started on the platform. Despite differing experience levels, the group quickly gelled and now meets at least weekly after initially convening bi-monthly.

“In my one-on-one meetings with student-athletes, they often say they don’t know what content to post or lack help creating it,” says Madeline Walsh, UCLA’s Assistant Director of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) who liaises with the club. “The AIC offers that peer support and direction they need.”

Walsh is aware of what it takes to succeed in the influencer marketing space. “In order to truly maximize your NIL opportunities, you have to have a clear personal brand and be capable of creating quality content.”

In addition to the peer network, members receive specialized training like content workshops and athletic facility photoshoots. Plans include off-campus field trips as the club builds individual brands pursuing NIL opportunities. Interested student-athletes can apply via an online form.

The AIC complements UCLA’s other in-person NIL programming such as the annual “Westwood Exchange Live” networking event and a bi-weekly NIL Law Clinic run jointly with the university’s Ziffren Institute for Media and Entertainment Law.

By encouraging student-athletes to cultivate their public personas, the club helps them maximize NIL potential under updated NCAA rules allowing college players to profit from their name, image, and likeness. The outgrowth of a community addressing this emerging frontier demonstrates UCLA’s commitment to supporting its athletes.

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Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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