Social Media an NBAer’s Marketing Haven
NBAers maximize their marketing potential.
Of the 239 NBA players on Twitter, 148 of them have 25,000 or fewer followers; 90 have 10,000 or fewer. Yet an astounding 35 have 100,000 or more followers, including six with more than one million – Celtics forward Paul Pierce, Shaq, Odom, Wade, James and Howard. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is knocking on the door with over 896,000.
Suns guard Steve Nash has greater than 428,000 followers and even though he doesn’t tweet as much as McPeek would like, he’s still given more attention to the platform than in the past.
“He used to go dark during the offseason,” McPeek said. “He would kind of disappear and was a real private guy. Nobody knew what he was doing during the offseason other than his occasional celebrity soccer game or charitable event. But since he’s been on Twitter, fans have really gotten a chance to keep up with him and see what he’s up to.”
Nash, along with teammates Grant Hill and Jared Dudley, represent an idealized form of how every athlete would use Twitter and any other social media platform. They tweet often, they communicate with teammates and fans and they interject enough humor and humility to make users feel more connected to them.
Favorito said athletes must incorporate a trio of responsibilities to successfully maximize their social media presence: finding balance that drives potential sponsorship dollars, developing interest in their day-to-day life and maintaining a social responsibility.
That means an athlete controlling his message, especially if it has the potential to offend people. A lesson can be learned from Portland Trail Blazers center Earl Barron. He tweeted the following on April 24: “Advice to my haters, [sic] Do what I say now. Report to the nearest roof and take the fast way down.”
As Favorito said, “Once it goes [out], it doesn’t come back.” A tweet lives forever.
James has tweeted messages that have been turned back on him, including one in early January after his former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers, lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 112-57. James tweeted that “Karma is a bitch…” purportedly in response to the ill will expressed against him by Cavs fans and team owner Dan Gilbert after he took his talents to South Beach last summer.
“He was probably sittin’ around like we sittin’ around, with his boys and they were talking,” Miles said. “And he tweeted it not thinking [about the ramifications]. And just like in text messages or e-mails, there’s no inflection in your voice. There’s no sarcasm – [fans] can’t take it that way. It’s taken how they read it, how their mind thinks. One person thinks it’s funny, another doesn’t.”
Twitter is a forum not to be taken too seriously, said Miles. He’s there to discuss movies and music with fans and to be honest with them. He said fans can take the simple route by asking him genuine questions.
“It’s that easy,” Miles said, smiling. “You don’t have to come at me and try to get me mad so we can Twitter-beef.”
Then there’s Knicks guard Roger Mason Jr. He falls somewhere in between two of the three segments of athletes who use social media, as described by Schwab. There are people who don’t use social media but who are interested in building a brand. That’s not Mason, since he’s already on Twitter.
Where he falls is between the group of people who use social media but who don’t care about brand-building, and the group of social media enthusiasts who are all-in on developing an identity and a marketing message.
Mason said he’s good friends with ESPN broadcaster Jalen Rose and, like Rose, he hopes to make the transition one day from NBA ballplayer to NBA TV analyst.
“I want to get into broadcasting, so it’s a fun way to stay tuned in with what’s going on,” Mason said. And if he does as recommended by Schwab, Favorito and McPeek, he may very well become a shining example of how any athlete can utilize the unique opportunities provided by social media to raise his profile.