Fresno State’s Haley Cavinder, left, with Hanna Cavinder, right, celebrate during the game against Boise State on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 23, 2021 in Fresno. The Bulldogs went on to win 67-64. EZAMORA@FRESNOBEE.COM
NIL NETWORK INSIGHT
Recap: Fresno State’s Cavinder twins created a TikTok account for fun and to occupy their time during last April’s stay-at-home orders. Just a year later, the account has amassed over 2.9 million followers. Opendorse CEO and co-founder, Blake Lawrence, projects that they are in the top 5 most marketable NCAA women’s basketball players in the country and they could get paid $34,874 per post and over $520,000 per year.
Observations: The Cavinder twins’ success on social media should help dispel the myth that NIL reform will only have value for star quarterbacks at FBS universities. While talented athletes (Haley led the Mountain West in scoring and earned conference player of the year and Hanna ranked 3rd in the league in scoring and was an all-conference selection), their TikTok following was created by them, not Fresno State. Actually, Fresno State athletics might be benefitting from the star power of the twins! It will be exciting to continue following their journey post NIL reform.
It started as a single account. Hanna Cavinder had downloaded TikTok, the social media app, and loved it.
“I probably shouldn’t be on it as much as I am,” she said.
Haley Cavinder had Instagram and Twitter and all that, but was not as locked onto social media.
“I wasn’t a big fan, to be honest,” she said. “I liked to stay off of it, and focus on basketball.”
But April a year ago, when the twin Fresno State guards were stuck at home in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, Hanna talked Haley into making a TikTok, and it took off about as fast as either of the Bulldogs’ dynamic playmaking guards could get into the paint off a high ball screen and score or find an open teammate.
That’s how it all started. It was fun. It was something to do. And, in building a brand and base of followers that now number 2.9 million on TikTok and 64,000 on YouTube as well as personal accounts on Instagram and Twitter, the Cavinders relied on their greatest strength, which, like on the basketball court, is each other.
“It’s a unique thing,” said Blake Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of Opendorse, a sports-based marketing platform that provides athletes with the tools to build, protect and monetize their brands.
“They’re twins. The two of them together make their content more compelling, and they know that. They lean into it and it’s also very natural, the camaraderie they have. It’s who they are. They’re authentic and the content that they create, the more engaging it is for the audience. The Cavinder twins are solid evidence of that.”
It was that simple.