Social Media an NBAer’s Marketing Haven
NBAers maximize their marketing potential.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
The NBA continues to set the standard for social media interaction between its athletes and their sponsors and fans, but questions arise whether those athletes maximize the possibilities which social media holds. There is no question that NBA players are as well positioned as any other professional athlete to take advantage of opportunities to extend their brand.
Six of 19 athletes featured in an April 25 CNBC.com ranking of the most influential sports personalities’ Klout Scores were NBA players – no more than three came from any other sport. The ranking measured the engagement and actions of each athlete’s followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook, respectively, and those followers’ and friends’ influence on each platform.
The six NBA players in the ranking read as a who’s who of the star-driven league: LeBron James (T-2nd), Lamar Odom (T-5), Kevin Durant (T-5), Dwyane Wade (T-8), Steve Nash (T-12) and Dwight Howard (T-14). (Shaquille O’Neal, whose Clout Score also qualifies him for a tie at 14th, was not included in the ranking.) The added value of an athlete owning a social media platform has been well-documented.
They can connect directly with fans, shape their messages that they, at times, feel the media misconstrues and can plug whatever sponsor or brand with which they are aligned. And it’s not particularly alarming when an athlete is on Twitter or Facebook – it’s commonplace to the point that marketers feel it’s necessary.
David Schwab, a managing director at the sponsorship consultant agency Octagon, said his work in helping brands understand their athlete and celebrity strategy consistently draws back to whether the targeted person has an active social media platform.
“It’s one of the first questions that comes up in a conversation about which celebrity to use,” Schwab said during a phone interview.
Smart, informative comments which lead to discussion among that person’s Twitter and Facebook fan base are desirable, according to Schwab. But it seems that some players have enough stature that they can build large followings without “smart” or “informative” content.
A look at James’ timeline shows that 24 of the first 34 updates he made in April, from April 2-27, were either a reference to his The LeBrons TV show or a shout-out to friends and fans.
Of the 60 tweets Durant wrote from April 20-25, 45 were either a reply to a friend or fan, a re-tweet of a person’s message or a reference to a product he sponsors.
These are relatively small sample sizes in which to view James’ and Durant’s methods on Twitter. (James has posted more than 1,000 tweets while Durant has written greater than 15,000.) And the interaction with fans and promotion of sponsored products are two critical reasons the athletes have gained the audiences they hold, more than 1.7 million followers in James’ case and upwards of 627,000 for Durant.
Yet many of their tweets can’t honestly be called smart or informative. That’s the case with perhaps far too many NBA players’ Twitter accounts, and it can hamper their ability to attract the marketing opportunities they seek.
Joe Favorito, a sports and entertainment marketing and PR consultant who has previously led the public relations departments of the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, said that too many people post tweets without consideration for what the content represents.
“I don’t think as many people want to know what you had for breakfast as much as what your insight is into something that’s going on that affects more people,” Favorito said via phone.
He did state that a player touting one of his businesses or brands is meaningful. In that case, James and Durant should be commended for doing their job in promoting their products. Schwab said Durant uses Twitter well with smart brand messages and interactions with fans. The same can be said of many other NBA players, some of whom spoke with SLAMonline in team locker rooms toward the end of the ‘10-11 regular season.