Posted by: Ian Ross | January 10, 2008

Hoops Star Uses YouTube To Boost All-Star Votes

Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh not only has good instincts on the basketball court, he also appears wise to the power of social media.

To garner more votes in All-Star balloting, Bosh turned to the power of You Tube. At home in Texas on Christmas eve, Bosh and his family shot a parody of a used car salesman commercial. But instead of a car, he tries to sell you the opportunity to vote him into the All-Star game.

This is not a slick PR agency production – something the millionaire could certainly afford. And it isn’t a gimmick brewed up in the Raptors’ PR department. In fact, the Raptors PR guy Jim LaBumbard didn’t see it until it was already up on the web.

Instead, it’s a grainy, silly, four shots of whiskey production. And that’s probably why it has been a big hit online. At the time of this posting, it has had more than 327,000 views on YouTube. Not bad at all.

Is it going to propel him into the All-Star game? Unfortunately not. Bosh is up against arguably the best two players in the game right now – Boston’s Kevin Garrett and Cleveland’s LeBron James – for the two Eastern conference forward slots. The vote tally reported today puts Bosh at a respectable 500,000 votes (third place); but Garrett and James have the fans in their backpocket with more than 1.5 million votes each.

Nevertheless, Bosh certainly knows how to reach and engage his fans. And that can only help as he builds his career. Here is a quote from Bosh in Monday’s National Post:

“For the past year or so, I’ve been working on my Web site. I’m very hands-on with it. And I was just trying to figure out ways of interacting with the fans. Fans really like that. I want to have, not just the best athletic Web site, but the Web site in the world. I’ve been working towards it, and that kind of generated the idea. As far as the all-star game, I really wanted to go back, so I was like, “What can I do to help my votes? Internet. OK.” And it just went on from there.”

I checked out the website and it is premium. He’s got a blog (contributes about once a week), a very active fan forum and some other cool features. It appears Bosh has a good handle on the power of social media.

However, he may also be playing with fire if he doesn’t keep a good PR adviser close. All it takes is another YouTube video that treads too far into stereotypes or bad humour for his fortune to change very quickly. He doesn’t want to live by the social media sword, and die by the social media sword.

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