Interactive Shaq: a model for athletes in a 2.0 web world

So everyone is asking:

  • did Sports Media Challenge really get THE_REAL_SHAQ to twitterYES
  • shouldn’t every athlete do the same?  NO
  • why haven’t leagues aggressively adopted social media and in particular twitter? CAN’T IMAGINE
  • and on and on, and on…

Last week Buzz Manager(TM) was trolling the internet and fan-generated-media known by others as CGM (blogs, chatrooms, YouTube, twitter etc.) for Shaq like we do for all of our clients. It’s critical for us to listen to and measure the amount of chatter & public sentiment about their brands/issues.

By listening to fans we can and do uncover relevant and even actionable information. In fact, we FIND, LISTEN, ENGAGE & LEAD in that order. Buzz Manager alerted us “Shaq is twittering”. Wait a minute- it wasn’t really him. But as I told the Big Man, it could be him and he could do it from his phone. He could reach out and talk directly to fans and them to him. No mirrors, no curtains, just Shaq and the fans.

Word of Mouth is powerful- incredibly influential. @THE_REAL_SHAQ got over 12,000 fans (and counting) to “follow” his tweets in a week. Sure they love his humor but more than that, they love how they can reach and virtually touch a larger than life superstar. They’re saying things like,

  • “Great little piece about Shaq on Twitter, Devin. It really is one of the biggest pop culture events of the year.” – Schrik
  • “just got a twitter really only to make sure i can see what shaq twitters about” – maybejack
  • “New to twitter. I hear Shaq is here so ya know I had to join. I look forward to hearing whassup from everyone!” – tweetAZ
  • “But it was just cool that Shaq talked to me! I think he’ll make Twitter mainstream.” – modite
  • “Shaq + Twitter = Best Thing To Happen To The Internet Over The Last Week. BY FAR.” – schlizzag
  • “I’m not even a huge basketball fan and I still think it’s neat to see Shaq on Twitter.” – jonvictorino
  • “any basketball player with the insight to twitter is worth following. plus, it’s shaq!” – DanielThePoet
  • “can i just say that following Shaq’s tweets is one of the best things about Twitter?” – sushipanda

What makes @THE_REAL_SHAQ successful?

He genuinely enjoys and values talking directly to fans. Interactive Shaq knows something about and appreciates how technology connects the world. He’s willing to share bits of his personal and professional life througHout each day. Once a week won’t keep the masses glued to their mouses! The Suns to their credit quickly jumped on board a unique opportunity and provided the team’s infrastructure to amplify Interactive Shaq.

We often talk to clients about building, enriching and protecting their brand legacy. In fact, SMC is working hand in hand with a company called Legacy Direct.  All sports personalities have images, some even reputations, the smart ones use their athletic platform to build personal brands and influence millions. In the sports world, there are few brands bigger around the globe than Shaq. His authenticity and willingness to reach out to fans endears him and converts influencers to advocates and advocates to evangelists. Wow! The power of word-of-mouth. Follow THE_REAL_SHAQ and kathleenhessert

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5 Responses to “Interactive Shaq: a model for athletes in a 2.0 web world”

  1. November 25, 2008 at 7:09 pm

    Shaq has massive “tweet cred” in my book. Once he started reacting directly to fans (like calling me “Figgy”) he made himself human and accessible. When he called my 12 year old son on Sunday night, my respect for the man went up exponentially (you can see the stream of tweets on @Figliuolo). Any “superstar” who is man enough to elevate a 12 year old child above his head is a hero in my book. Thanks Shaq.

  2. November 25, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I was skeptical at first about following @the_real_shaq because so many people try to be celebs on Twitter. But when I read about it on Mashable I knew it was true. Shaq’s tweets are the best: To the point and oftentimes hilarious. Thanks for convincing him to join the Twitterverse.

  3. November 25, 2008 at 7:19 pm


    Great post, and great job convincing Shaq to go interactive 😉

    As I said in my @reply to you this weekend, it’s clear @The_REAL_SHAQ has hit a homerun, and a huge part of that is his genuinely comedic, and all around good natured personality. He’s larger than life, and that translates online in a way that regular fans aren’t able to see (or rather, believe) simply by watching the mainstream media’s interaction with Shaq.

    But *he* deserves a lot of the credit, and it’s where other professional athletes, or musicians, or CEOs, etc. will fall down. Can you imagine Larry Bird (I’m allowed to knock a living legend, I was born and raised in Boston 😉 on Twitter? The beauty of the web is, it enables greater transparency, between businesses and their audience, as well as between personalities and their audience. In this case Shaqs personality shines, but others would be wise to stay away, lest we have an incident similar to Phil Savage’s obscenity-laced email tirade in response to an angry fan. Oops!

  4. December 3, 2008 at 2:15 am

    I agree that Shaq has been a huge hit being on Twitter. I think fans get a real look into the life of an athlete from their perspective… no camera, no courts, just real, honest words.

    Looking forward to reading more dialog in the near future Kathleen.


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