In tweeting Shaq finds a way to keep it real

Time Magazine might not have realized it yet but 2009 is the Year of the Tweet. We've witnessed an absolute explosion of 140 character brilliance with The Big Tweeter himself leading the charge. At least in NBA circles he is the Pied Piper of tweets as many other players, coaches, teams and Gorillas have followed in his size 23 foot steps. Before Shaq there were only a few of us random bloggers and now we need a directory to keep it all straight.

In yesterday's post we took a (brief) trip in the (not so) way-back machine to explore the origins of NBA twitterville and the role we played in getting Shaq into the game.

Today, at Suns practice I had my first chance to speak with Shaq with only a few other people around and so of course I asked him about the playoff race twittering.

Shaq has taken to twitter and clearly gets a great deal enjoyment out of communicating directly with his massive army of 360,000 tweeps.

In case you were wondering, he added over 8,800 new followers since yesterday. I am no marketing expert but that seems like a pretty impressive feat of viral growth considering the zero's of dollars spent to in "customer acquisition". My clients at Coke and Disney would love a piece of that action.

The Big Marketer might have a greater purpose with all this and perhaps he is considering the strategic value of his brand. I wouldn't put it past him and will ask him about this next chance I get but for now it is all about keeping it real.

Here's Shaq talking about his tweets

Basically, I am just showing the fans I am just like them. The only difference is I'm on TV a lot...I don't consider myself a super star type. I am just a guy that's on TV a lot because of his looks and what he did...I shop at WalMart wearing slippers, I just do regular stuff and I think the people on twitter are into that. That's why I've got 350,000 follower

I understand if you dismiss twitter as frivolous 140 characters of drivel. Why do we need yet another method of communicating on top of phone, fax, cell, text, instant message, email, blog and carrier pigeon?

For Shaq it seems that in twitter he's found an important connection between what he considers the real world and his super star self.

Imagine life as Shaq. You are not only one of the greatest basketball players ever (regardless of what you think about his game, this fact is not in question) and on top of that you are impossible to miss. It would be like you or  me walking around with a pink top hat and giant clown shoes while blowing on a kazoo.

People do not miss Shaq when he walks into a room, mall or stadium.

His entire adult life has been spent as one of the most recognizable figures on the face of the planet and yet inside he considers himself a regular guy. People stare in awe and either cower in fear or approach and ask him for something. There is absolutely no way for this man to be treated like a normal person and yet he seems to want nothing more than that.

Shaq is indisputably a nice guy that enjoys people and yet he can't have regular interactions. So he tweets. He responds when he wants to and talks directly with folk without any media filter. And in his newest game of Shaq-tag can even connect his tweets to the people around him when he's out and about like he did for the first time while sitting in a dinner a few weeks ago.

Shaq explains

I was at 5 and Dinner one time and I see these guys looking at me. They were little guys so I wasn't really in a threat position. I thought those guys were either twitters or they wanted an autograph so that's when it first started. I was like 'any twitters where I'm at now touch me and get two free tickets'.

You can check out the "little guys" side of the story here.

Shaq has brought a lot of things to the Phoenix Suns from interior defense to low post offense. He likely won't end up bringing the championship that was hoped for when he first arrived but he's certainly brought a new way for fans to connect to their favorite players. He's also found a great way to be himself within the confines of his undeniable super stardom.

 

Here's the full audio of the interview. Along with me, asking questions were Paul Coro from the AZ Republic and Johnny V from Sports 620 KTAR. I am sorry if the audio isn't great. Imagine being 5'10" tyring to hold a digital recorder high enough to get good sound and Shaq as you well know has that famous low soft voice.

 

Don't forget to join my 390 followers on twitter @phoenixstan

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