My previous blog post was about importance of social media and its usage. Mentioning Lance Armstrong’s great Twitter presence, Leo Messi’s & FC Barcelona’s Facebook marketing trick and NFL player Rashard Mendenhall’s polemical statements on Twitter causing one of his sponsors (Champion) to end his endorsement contract.
Indeed, the reality and impact of social is immense and the fact is athletes are more and more aware of it. They are using these tools as primary communication channel. As written in my previous post Athletes & social networks: Think before you speak, it’s more original, personal (engagement effect), and brings you as closer as possible to your real target public (i.e. fans). Let me give just one recent example with huge echo world-wide.
Legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, aka Shaq, announced few days ago his retirement after 19 years of exceptional NBA career and 4 NBA titles. Shaq announced his retirement via Twitter (see below) saying in the amateur video made by himself: “I’m telling you first, I’m about to retire!” He also add a special hashtag (#ShaqRetires) which, not surprisingly, became world-wide Twitter trending topic.
Can you imagine something like this like five years ago? I guess not. It would be more common to announce the retirement on a press conference (see below) in front of hundreds of cameras, microphones, voice recorders and journalists each one of them waiting for his own story on Shaq’s retirement.
Now, things have changed, they are different, 100% vice-versa. It means Shaq (and other athletes) are media by their own. They can record (video and/or audio) their important statements, decisions, feelings or emotions and publish them via social network services. If you ask me it’s a double win: fans get information in the real time from the very first hand. They are taking it more personal because it’s dedicated to each of them not to all of them; like in case of press conferences or other public appearances which make it more impersonal and mass. On the other hand, it’s also easier for the athletes: they are “released” of exaggerated media pressure, unnecessary questions and they also prevent false stories often made by tabloids to sell more newspaper, get more clicks on their website etc.
However, “Shaq’s way” of retirement can’t be made by anyone. First of all, if you’re part of the club (Shaq wasn’t any more) you have to respect club’s rules. If you’re a team – not individual – it’s kind of weird to make important decisions from your own social network tool, due to your commitment to owners, shareholders etc. But it’s definitely the best way for the individuals without obligations to other parties (clubs, owners etc.). Of course, if other party (club) doesn’t have rules (that’s often in lower divisions); you are free to use it.
There’s one more thing to add. Shaq has almost 4 million Twitter followers so he can instantly rich millions of fans. That’s not possible for somebody with few hundred Twitter followers and maybe thousand Facebook like fans. But if you “equip” you statements/decisions with right hashtags, send them to mass media, I’m sure you’ll get your part. They will definitely publish it saying, he/she just announced his retirement via Twitter/Facebook etc. You will instantly generate public’s attention what was your main intention. With all the tools we have – Fieldoo is also one of them – it’s all about ideas and creativity. Little small things can really make big things happen.