4 Key Stats on Social Media & Content Creation - Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey

May 6, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
Welcome to the 2021 Pinkbike State of the Sport Survey. This anonymous survey is designed to help shed light on key issues affecting the professional field and elite competition. We surveyed the best riders in the world to hear their thoughts, ideas, concerns, and criticisms on mountain biking in 2021. We invited any rider who had finished in the Top 40 overall of their chosen discipline in either of the previous two seasons in either XC, enduro, downhill, or slopestyle & freeride, as well as notable non-competition riders and highly ranked juniors. We then published them in full and publicly. To read the introduction to the survey click here, and to see all the other currently published SOTS articles click here.



Riders use a variety of social media platforms, but primarily Instagram

The obvious stuff: Riders mostly use Instagram (100% of riders surveyed), followed by Facebook (73%), then Youtube with a surprising-to-me 35% of riders. The others worth mentioning are Strava (25%), TikTok (12%), and Twitter (10%).

In terms of other media projects, short edits are by far the most common form of content creation with 87% of riders surveyed, followed by podcasts (26%) and a tie at 19% for both vlogging and parts in feature-length films.

Riders don't just use social media because they are contracted to

86% of riders said they use social media to make themselves more valuable to sponsors. It is important to note, however, that since riders could submit multiple answers, this being the most common answer does not necessarily mean it is the primary motivation for all the riders surveyed.

Following value to sponsors, the next most popular answer was ‘to make content with and for my fans’ with 69% of respondents, followed by ‘to use my influence in the mountain biking community' (43%), ‘I’m contracted to do so (36%), and ‘I like to be able to speak directly to my fans’ (29%). A handful of one-off responses were along the lines of ‘I genuinely enjoy it.’ A bit more than half of the riders surveyed responded either ‘agree’ (42%) or ‘strongly agree’ (11%) with the statement ‘I enjoy making content for social media.’ An additional 36% answered neutrally, leaving 11% on the negative side.

These responses speak to a type of win-win situation for many riders and sponsors – social media is, of course, a valuable marketing tool for companies who sponsor athletes, but it’s also a useful tool for athletes to build their own brands and intentionally affect how they present themselves to the bike world. Still, the broad utility of social media for riders and companies alike puts pressure on riders to compete in the ever-engaged attention economy in ways that just didn’t happen before social media emerged as a marketing tool.

Riders had to produce more content due to COVID-19

It is pretty well-established now that content creation has become increasingly important during COVID-19, with 70% of riders responding positively to the statement ‘I have had to create more content because of the effects of COVID-19 on the mountain bike industry’ and only 11% of riders responding negatively.

Social media has a negative impact on nearly 50% of riders' mental health

The most interesting statistic in the survey, for me, is that 48% of riders surveyed responded either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘social media has a negative impact on my mental health.’ And yet, 100% use social media and are more or less obligated to do so.

Voices from all over the industry have both lamented and applauded social media for its impacts on our sport. Instagram does a great job of turning bike rides into photoshoots, but also joy into anxiety. Either way, it's clearly one of the most effective marketing tools that exists in the mountain biking world. There's a clear gender distinction in the responses too with 58.44% of women acknowledging that negative impact to some extent vs 40.83% men, perhaps reflective of the additional pressures women face when posting on social media. We'll dig into the women's specific survey section in some upcoming articles.

Professional racing has always included trade-offs and this may become an increasingly significant one as companies rely more and more on online marketing.

Author Info:
alicialeggett avatar

Member since Jun 19, 2015
711 articles

  • 312 3
 Social media also has the negative impact of blowing up riding spots
  • 8 1
 quoted for truth.
  • 48 0
 All the secret trails I've built in my area were eventually torn down because of this pro rider who recorded clips there, won't name him but he's very known...
  • 2 0
 Straight facts.
  • 9 0
 @theoskar57: @ him
  • 13 1
 @theoskar57: Rat him out, he deserves any flack he gets.
  • 2 0
 @FloridaHasMTBToo: I wonder how many well known pros ride in Tenerife?
  • 5 0
 @mtb-thetown: Literally 2
  • 4 1
 yep. cops in our spot have told people as they pass out tickets, and the park closes trails, that it's because of crowds drawn by youtubers that name our local goods. covid, plus bike surge, plus angry hikers and equestrians, plus youtube equals bummer.
  • 4 1
 @ranke: , exactly what is happening on my local spot. Ebikers, noobies on harder trails walking down, entire families with kids and dogs hiking up the trail, and being aggressive with us. All these people cause litter and trash on the forest. Caused by Covid and YouTube videos showing the trails locations. I don’t want to be selfish, but it is a bit sad. Anyway....
  • 82 23
 The most interesting statistic in the survey, for me, is that 48% of riders surveyed responded either ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ to the statement ‘social media has a negative impact on my mental health.’

......and that’s the reason this hombre doesn’t use it. Nope.
  • 193 8
 I hate to break this to you, but you're on a social media site right now...
  • 35 4
 But here you are commenting on pinkbike... :/
  • 13 0
 Straight up. I feel bad for those that have to do it to make their income because they have no other ways.
  • 13 14
 ur on a social media rn
  • 4 0
 I wonder though if this is just Instagram, I feel there's less reward for what you put into that one, then also easier for others to manipulate their life to look utterly awesome when everything is falling apart. Where Youtube is more about longer content with a closer relationship with your followers, and the possibility to make a living. Instagram offers the illusion of making money, but no one really does.
  • 20 0
 Pinkbike is social media, but it's different to a lot of the platforms. On here I interact with people I don't know, but we have a shared interest. Rather than on some other sites, getting notifications from people I do know, but usually having no interest in their post. I spend a bit of time on PB and some other bike sites, occasionally look at stuff on Instagram, but that's about as involved as I get. There's some pernicious shit out there in the world of social media.
  • 10 2
 @its-joe: Yea but this is GOOD social media... look how positive and respectful all of us are... mental health BOOST I say...
  • 9 0
 @commental: Being belittled in comments on your personal You Tube page for example... There are very successful YouTubers out there that make it a rule to never read the comments because people are so freak'n mean. Participating in a comment section is no where near the same thing. Other than getting called out for a spelling error or difference of opinion of course.
  • 3 24
flag KK11 (May 6, 2021 at 15:14) (Below Threshold)
 @its-joe: no shit Stu
  • 2 0
 @KK11: chill bro
  • 4 35
flag DoubleCrownAddict (May 6, 2021 at 16:23) (Below Threshold)
 As someone who is a successful social media influencer on another site, I would say it all depends on how you use it. It typically gets negative feedback when people try to overreach their influence, get political, or do tacky unconfirmed things. It's actually best to err on the side of being boring.
  • 23 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: you are sure not on this one here... lol
  • 4 28
flag DoubleCrownAddict (May 6, 2021 at 17:57) (Below Threshold)
 @ybsurf: I've convinced more than a few people not to buy YT's because of my YT Trump/Nazi blog.
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: your emphasis on BOOST almost made me spill my coffee
  • 19 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: Social Media 'Influencers' sell mind-garbage to idiots. It's nothing to be proud of.
  • 7 0
 it's fun to create content for instagram, but every time i get a little time invested, i start to feel like uncle rico throwing a football in front of a camera next to my van.
  • 4 1
 @DoubleCrownAddict: lol I reaaaally hope you sleep better at night now that yt makes less profit because of you
  • 7 2
 @DoubleCrownAddict: list the username or names of the people you persuaded? Because I don't belive you.
  • 1 0
 @daweil: @spinzillathespacelizard: This happens all the time. If you call DCA out on the BS he says here, he goes silent and retreats to his YT=Nazis PB 'blog' and gets some validation from his sycophant 'followers'. I assumed he blocked me for a while, but then he slid into my DMs with some nonsense about one of my comments about Waki, someone he also felt threatened by and encouraged to self-cancel again.

DCA #youcantwin
  • 1 4
 @spinzillathespacelizard: Don't care if you do or don't, most reasonable people don't want to be affiliated with Trump, Nazi Germany, or degrading women. @Suspended-Flesh obviously doesn't fall into that category. Driving Waki out was another positive development, I'm still gonna do a blog on him and call it 'Waki came back.. and it was whacked!' Such good timing that he ate those magic mushrooms.
  • 2 1

Weak. You can't categorize me. Your narrow-minded SJW blinders don't allow you actually see me - I'm over here - FAR to your Left.

You mention me in another comment, but are afraid to go toe-to-toe. At least you can see that #youcantwin
  • 2 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: bad troll.

My new tues is ariving soon, maybe you think that horseshoe theory means my politics have gone left enough to become right again?

Any way let's hear it for the red brown alliance of national bolshiviekism
  • 2 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: the lengths go to affiliate things with Nazi Germany never cease to amaze me. You disrespect real victims of the ideology with stuff like that. If you wanna fight against evil so bad I recommend don't picking enemies which have done nothing. There are real problems in our world, yt having some skulls and weird symbolism in their posters is not one of them.

BTW I hate how huge yt got with its deliberate "cool" marketing while other long standing German d2c brands are kind of forgotten, so I'm not trying to convince anyone to buy a yt. I don't like the brand, even though I love the looks of their bikes. Just so it's out there.
  • 1 4
 @daweil: I don't affiliate "things" with Nazi Germany. German company YT has chosen to affiliate itself with the German Nazi movement by borrowing their exact symbols and placing it on their merchandise, and creating other ones very similar. YT is the one disrespecting the victims of it by recycling it, in just exposing their despicable marketing.
  • 52 2
 Social Media is a cancer on society. The impact of which hasn't been realized at this point and the damage will be irreparable and irreversible. Its purpose is to influence people to do things they wouldnt do otherwise... buy something, believe something, change behavior... ultimately control people though ongoing conditioning. Everyone should be made aware of this primary purpose before entering the arena of manipulation.
  • 7 20
flag dkidd (May 6, 2021 at 15:18) (Below Threshold)
 Ok Baller.
  • 9 0
 While I agree, what you have outlined is not new, the advertising industry mastered the art of creating perceived deficiencies to create demand years ago. Social media takes it to a whole other level though! And the level of tracking vs pre-internet is insane. People should revolt to own their data.
  • 4 0
 Well, its purpose is to generate revenue by selling user data and targeted ads. Its effect is to manufacture FOMO, spread misinformation, enroll the whole industrialized world in a palatable, hashtag-#blessed, corporate self-surveillance program, and be a cancer on society.
  • 5 1
 I deleted FB and IG from my phone and put restrictions on myself that only let me visit a handful of websites on my phone and nothing else. So much easier to not stare at it all day.
  • 1 0
 @Baller7756 You have teenage kids right?
  • 43 6
 Contracted to do something that impacts your mental health for less than a basic hourly wage, nah thanks
  • 6 16
flag DoubleCrownAddict (May 6, 2021 at 16:27) (Below Threshold)
 That's taking things out of context. One negative comment doesn't take all the fun out of riding, traveling, and competing. This kind of narrative is exactly what I was talking about in the other thread when I said these pinkbike surveys are actually damaging overall to mtb athletes and their images. Note people on here will be making jokes or negative comments about how racers are poor, struggling, and living less than desirable lives. Not an image sponsors want to be associated with.
  • 22 0
 They’re contracted to do things they don’t want to do so they can do what they want to do. Sounds like most jobs I know.
  • 4 3
 @DoubleCrownAddict: BOO! Go back to bed. Professional athletes are real people like you and me. Whatever their motivation is to create content, social media and the pressure to constantly create can take away from the core of the sport that they love.

It’s an interesting dynamic of balancing what you love and the business that you’ve made of you’re own persona
  • 6 0
 @larry-mclush: Then, you should not make your job the thing you love - have it as a hobby, but, if you want free stuff and payment for riding then you got to put in the work, cant have you cake and eat it.

Sponsorship has always been about promotion, its always about marketing, like anyone the employs someone, they invest in you and you bring a return on that investment, they aint paying you to hide in the woods on secret trails with ya mates all day!!

if you are a comp rider, just turning up to the race/event aint enough, you got to show yourself, meet people, interact with fans etc etc, social media or IRL, all the same, all part of the job
  • 1 0
 @DoubleCrownAddict: if the sponsors don’t want to be associated with poor racers then they should pay them more.
  • 2 0
 Contracted to do something that impacts your physical health as well, these riders take a beating on the bike. concussions, broken bones, torn ligaments tendons, spinal cord injury, you name it. Mountain biking is no walk in the park, and when competing you are putting yourself at much higher risk for serious injury.
  • 18 5
 86% say they feel the need to do social media to be more valuable to their sponsors and 36% are even contractually obligated to post on social media. Also nearly 50% of riders say that they don't enjoy making social media content. 48% of riders even state that they feel that social media has a negative influence on their mental health. That's one of the sport's biggest problems IMO. It's steers the sport and the industry into a dangerous direction.

Forced (either by contract or by circumstance) to do something that you don't enjoy and that you would even say has a negative influence on your mental health for less than a basic wage. What a grim perspective. Social media hype culture needs to die - and right quick.
  • 12 1
 Nearly 50% of riders did not say they don't enjoy making social media content. 11.11% said they didn't enjoy making content. 35.86% were neutral on the topic. 30.81% said it was a negative influence on mental health. Its mischaracterising the data to include the neutral responses with your numbers.
  • 8 2
 100% this. Social media platforms (as distinct from websites like this) are poison and drive the worst behaviours and feelings among users.
  • 18 0
 But at the same time MOST jobs, even really fun jobs include aspects that SUCK... The whole thing that "do what you love and you never work a day in your life" is not always true!
  • 5 0
 @alepert: on the other hand - if you need it for your income and there are some ok parts to it, answering neutral is the safe bet even if you generally don't like it.

@BenTheSwabian you're not wrong, but it's relatively tame in that the "sport" is dangerous in many ways and one might argue that being able to have some sort of career on social media is WAY better than the previous staus quo even though there are strong downsides.

I mean, there are awesome athletes that never made it to the very top results and would have been chewed up and spit out by the sport that can now make a living ... not perfect but it's not black and white.
  • 1 0
 @alepert: “Enjoy”ment is a positive thing. “Don’t enjoy” merely means it’s simply absence of positive; it does not necessarily imply negative emotion, just absence of positive. @BenTheSwabian is correct in what he said. If he had said “nearly 50% dislike...” that would be different as dislike is a negative emotion. Absence of enjoyment certainly can be neutral, so yeah, nearly 50% of respondents do not actively enjoy SM. It is disturbing, but hey, if you don’t like it, maybe it’s not a good fit for you.
  • 1 0
 @erikkellison: I didn't say I agreed or disagreed with the statement. My comment was neutral, just like the responses in question. I still think you're incorrect on this from a statistical standpoint. If there weren't 5 options presented would the entirety of that 35.86% of those resonses shifted to didn't enjoy? That's unlikely. The numbers are all above for everyone to form their own conclusions from. I was just asking that we don't mischaracterize the data to prove or disprove a point.
  • 11 2
 Social media is overrated. In my opinion sharing personal things with people who dont give a shit is self depreciating. And then all your personal info is sold to advertisers. I think time is better spend on other things.
  • 8 0
 There are only 2 pro racers on Only Fans (that I know of)......but they are incredible!
  • 5 0
 lol really?

Mathieu van der poel needs an onlyfans lol
  • 5 0
 Which racers!!!???? I need to know!!!! (joking.... mostly)
  • 20 0
 disgusting! seriously, i cant believe it, who would do that? you should post links to these "onlyfans" sites so we can be sure to avoid them!
  • 8 0
 Prove it.
  • 4 0
 Social media, particularly Insta is such a double edged sword, great for creating content and sharing with friends and, for the pros, fans. But for users it's also so bad for the skinner-box of doom-scrolling, and creators get caught in the mental trap of hunting likes
  • 4 2
 some back of the napkin calcs, Berm Peak youtube has 558Million total views since January 2015, a google search shows an income of about $3/1000 views or an estimated total income of $1.67million in those 6 years, or $279K/yr (likely very little comparatively in years 1 and 2). On top of a patreon of $5,100/month or $61,572 annually. Other top "youtubers" have about 1/10th the amount of total views, so income scales accordingly, but something to think about compared to all of those top 40 competitors making $5000/yr.
  • 6 0
 Which is why everyone and their mother is trying to start a mtb YouTube channel.
  • 4 2
 @4thflowkage: Let me dispel the myth that Berm Peak or any other MTB youtuber is taking home $340k a year. I'm certain he's not making half that.

Those $$$/view estimates are for youtubers who work in big markets like technology, clothing, cosmetics, etc. The reach of those individual views is greater because a higher percentage of people who view those ads will have friends and family who also buy technology, clothing, cosmetics. That isn't true for the bike industry. Us MTB nerds hang out with other MTB nerds, and we all watch the same stuff. It doesn't seem likely that my coworkers who don't ride are gonna start buying Maxxis tires because I watched a youtube video.
  • 5 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: except that Seth now has two YT channels and is expanding his brand with a rental property and a local bike park. I bet he’s pulling in way more than you think.
  • 2 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: The estimate might be high for the pure ad revenue but it doesn't take into account any sponsorships and other secondary income which he might take.

A number of youtubers have posted breakdowns of their income and most that I have seen say that the ad revenue directly only accounts for around 1/4 to 1/2 of their total income.

Overall the total is likely in that region.

Sam Pilgrim just bought a massive house within commuting distance of London off the back of youtube.
  • 2 1
 @Patrick9-32: no doubt total sponsorship value is much higher than YouTube ad revenue. Absolutely. I’m just pointing out that those YouTube ad revenue estimates definitely do not apply to the MTB world.
  • 1 0
 @TEAM-ROBOT: For sure, if you run a financial advice ($shitcoin to the moooon) channel on youtube the ad space is worth its weight in gold but smaller niche areas like ours? How many times have I seen the same ads from brands I haven't heard of anywhere else?
  • 4 1
 Facebook and Twitter are such a shitshow that they're not even worth checking most of the time... Instagram is really the ideal medium for visual, story driven content that lends itself to action sports like mountain biking.
  • 4 2
 Social media can be a fun tool to use if you go in with the right mindset. A famous youtuber had a great comment regarding social media and youtube that goes like, "if you go into youtube, insta, insert any platform here>, with the goal of getting the most views or the most likes or followers. You're going to have a bad time because you have the wrong mindset. You want to go into these platforms for a simple purpose of sharing something you like or think is cool.

I bet the riders that experienced mental issues for social media were obligated to post to social media. I'd like to see if there is a strong correlation in the responses.
  • 3 1
 My favorite is the plethora of "tutorials" by people that haven't been into mountain biking all that long and they clearly have no idea why you do certain things.
The number of worthless wheelie and jump tutorials is hilarious.
  • 6 0
  • 2 0
  • 2 1
 There's much to be said for being an ambassador for your profession. From wiki:

"A brand ambassador (sometimes also called a corporate ambassador) is a person who is employed by an organization or company to represent a brand in a positive light, and by doing so, help to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is meant to embody the corporate identity in appearance, demeanor, values and ethics.[1] The key element of brand ambassadors is their ability to use promotional strategies that will strengthen the customer-product-service relationship and influence a large audience to buy and consume more."

IMO the most effective route is social media interaction. I follow a photography ambassador on Instagram, and she ALWAYS will interact with her followers (and it's not even the camera brand I use lol).

This matters to me.
  • 7 0
 I'm not an influencer, I'm an OUTfluencer. It's much easier. I make a video, send it to them, and they write back "Yeah, that was terrible. We would like it if you didn't post that." and I just write back "Well, that's gonna cost ya..."
  • 4 1
 Here you go. TRUST ME on this one. This is the truth about social media and bikes:

  • 2 0
 I get sent Instagram links by my friends all the time but it looks like you can't see any of it without an account any more. Which I don't have. No loss.
  • 1 0
 I am so glad I don't have to put out content to make myself more valuable. That seems miserable... Wish me luck trying to keep my kids off of social media. Anybody with success with that, send me some tips.
  • 5 2
 Twitter . . . . people are still using that? LMFAO
  • 6 1
 Only Trump. Or he was. Lol.
  • 10 1
 @jmvcolorado: You know a platform isn't cool anymore when a politician starts to use it.
  • 2 0
 Interesting that Pinkbike used 5 answers for these surveys. 4 options make the user choose agree/disagree
  • 1 0
 Think the Neutrals are the riders that are proper in it just for the riding??
  • 1 0
 @larry-mclush: ehh maybe? People subconsciously choose the middle option in surveys or in buying purchases. That's why usually the middle size has the best margins.
  • 3 0
 pinkbike was my first social media....
  • 2 1
 All in the name of dollars, yeaaahhhhh!!!! bummer that it's basically necessary for the riders in those positions though.
  • 1 0
 I want to see a pool of Mtn bikers to know which social media platforms they use. I only use YouTube.
  • 3 1
 Does that mean
Your Gramed if you do
Or Gramed if you don’t
  • 2 0
  • 4 2
 Stay in school(?)

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