Kobe Bryant’s brilliant use of Facebook for fan engagement

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At a time when people are getting increasingly frustrated with brands and people posting daily pictures of cats doing back flips on Facebook (aka like-whoring), NBA star Kobe Bryant is going in the complete opposite direction and bringing sexy back to blogging…seriously. And, most impressively, he’s using Facebook to do it.

This brilliant example of fan engagement via the world’s largest social network is made even more impressive for a guy who has said on many occasions that digital media terrifies him.

Let’s take a look at what he’s doing on Facebook and how brands and key figures can possibly use Facebook in a similar manner.

Kobe and Facebook – The Past

Prior to the 2012 Olympics in London, Kobe’s Facebook page was being used in a similar fashion to many big-name athletes – sporadically.

On top of that, it was only being used when he or his sponsors had something to say.

But, you can’t fault him (or his team) for this approach – as much as we’d all like our figureheads to personally communicate with their fan bases on a daily basis, it requires buy in from the person in question and the plethora of attached stakeholders.

So, as I take you through the way he has used Facebook in the last two months, imagine you are a globally recognised athlete (as hard as that might be for some of us!)

Kobe and Facebook – The Olympics

On the even of the 2012 Olympics, Kobe began posting mini-blog entries on his Facebook feed. As a follower of his page, I wasn’t sure if he just had Olympic fever or if this was start of something permanent but it was cool to see nonetheless.

Kobe wasn’t just posting text-based posts to his feed, images played a role too, giving fans access to some moments only he and his teammates had access too, like this example below:

In between images like this, and some in-depth observations about the Olympic as a whole, fans were treated to post game reviews, virtually making them journalists in a post-match conference.

As an observer, I really enjoyed his posts during the Olympics as they gave me access to his thinking, team performance and most importantly, his personality.

Kobe and Facebook – The Present

Kobe’s post-Olympics form hasn’t subsided either.

His team, the LA Lakers, made some big off-season acquisitions which have been a big talking point amongst the basketball fan community.

Kobe, recognising this, used Facebook to address the changes and the team’s prospects in 2012/13:

What can we learn from Kobe’s use of Facebook?

So, get passed the fact that there is only one Kobe Bryant on the planet and that he, by virtue of his stature, has a big fan base.

Take a look at how he is using the platform.

His posts are:

  • Genuine
  • Informative
  • Useful
  • Entertaining
  • Personal

It has clearly taken a long time for Kobe to feel comfortable about opening himself up to his fans in such a manner via Facebook, but the increase in engagement on the page has been beyond measurement.

His team is probably conducting a brand tracking study alongside this new approach, and I wouldn’t be surprised if sentiment towards the Kobe ‘brand’ has improved on the back of it.

If Kobe Bryant, one of the world’s most recognised athletes on the planet can use social media (and more impressively Facebook) in such an engaging manner, then pretty much any individual or brand has the opportunity to do the same.

Let’s hope he sticks with it because I, and 14 million other people, are hooked.

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