Monday, December 14, 2009

GUEST BLOG: Do It Like Shaq

Every now and then I invite someone to share their relevant expertise with readers of this blog.

In a recent edition of his excellent 'Media Coach' newsletter, Alan Stevens looked at how US PR Expert Amy Martin built a Twitter strategy for Basketball legend Shaquille O'Neal that has seen him build two million followers and built further press coverage as a result.

With his permission, I have reproduced Alan's piece here.


One of the greatest examples of bringing the power of social media into the world of PR has been the promotion of the Phoenix Suns basketball team, and their star player, Shaquille O'Neal, during his time there. The person responsible is Phoenix-based PR expert, Amy Martin (known as @digitalroyalty on Twitter). She now helps to manage Shaquille's online presence, using a range of sophisticated measurement tools.

Due largely to Amy's efforts, Shaquille has close to two million Twitter followers, and is regularly mentioned in the traditional press as an example of how to use social media well (creating yet more buzz).

So how does it all work? I spoke to Amy on several occasions to find out. A crucial factor is the speed and detail of monitoring the response to Tweets and updates on various sites. Amy has refined the functions of measurement software to allow her to see the effect of a single message. She calls it Return on Influence (a new form of ROI), which is distilled down to an index, showing whether the efforts have had a positive or negative impact on the brand, as well as by how much.

Amy has developed a Twitter strategy called Random Act Of Shaqness, which includes:

Identifying influential fans and websites;
Helping Shaquille create individual Tweets;
Capturing events using audio, video and photos;
Sending out messages and links to influencers.

Every single activity is tracked and measured, up to and including click-throughs to Shaquille's website, and whether a purchase is made online. Amy refers to the whole system as an online ecosystem, in which she can detect hotspots of key influencers or groups of fans, who can be targeted in later efforts.

The Phoenix Suns have also benefited as a whole from using social media. They have over 25 employees using Twitter, and each of them chats to fans (and future fans) on a personal level. They were probably the first sports organisation (or possibly the first organisation of any type) to digitally reveal the faces and personalities behind their logo. On their first Twitter night, in January 2009, the Suns were featured on over 300 websites, ESPN TV, and were mentioned thousands of times in Tweets. The exposure gained, relative to the effort put in (inviting fans in to meet the players) was huge. Not only that, but the positive mentions of the brand (analysed by the software mentioned above), soared, culminating in a large article about the event in The New York Times.

Now that's the way to do it...

As well as reading Alan's excellent newsletter, you can learn more PR and social media tips in his new book Ping: How to tap into the power of traditional and social media to massively improve your profile and your profits.

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