Three Things Celtics Star Rajon Rondo Can Teach You About B2B Marketing

 In B2B Engagement Marketing, Uncategorized

Three-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo could give a clinic to B2B marketers — and we’re not just talking about his behind-the-back passes. Rondo stands out as one of a select few active professional athletes to have successfully used social media to leverage their sports star status into real success off the court.

Plenty of marketers are envious of his success, and rightfully so; his skill and savvy have earned him sponsorships from Nike and Red Bull, a highly-publicized internship at GQ, and countless talk show appearances — not to mention an NBA championship in 2008 and the five-year, $55 million dollar contract that he signed in 2009.

It’s unlikely that most marketers would be able to fake a behind-the-back pass and then take it to the rim, but they can certainly learn a great deal from the way that he presents himself on the Internet.

1. Twitter, Facebook, and social media create relationships.

Never known as one to proselytize during interviews, Rajon has instead done an exceptional job of publicizing his fairly extensive community service through alternative methods. He regularly uses Facebook (3.8 million subscribers) and Twitter (more than 800,000 followers) to interact with his fans, which humanizes the star athlete who is frequently described as “transcendent” and “otherworldly”.

Similarly, B2B brands can connect with their customers by presenting a more human face through social media. Cisco Systems, for example, lists the contributors to their Twitter account next to the feed. Knowing that there are faces behind the words helps customers to see beyond the webpage and relate more closely to the brand. Other businesses sign tweeted responses (^IL, for example) or regularly use names in their tweets. A good B2B Twitter handle from which to take cues is @Salesforce; it’s professional yet personal, and the staff does a good job of tweeting resources that would be of use for their primary audience.

Takeaway: Regular interactions with a consistent tone make a brand seem more approachable.

Watch: Mastering B2B Social Media

2. Rich media strengthens your audience’s connection.

There’s no shortage of Rajon Rondo-related video: he spends nearly 40 minutes per game on the court at a clip of roughly 80 games per season. That kind of video doesn’t help fans understand who he is as a person, though, and neither do his (frequently surly) post-game interviews. Through his sponsors he shows some more personality with videos of him in his house and talking about an emotional draft night, and does an excellent job of curating his YouTube channel to show both on-court highlights and poignant personal moments.

Beyond that, he posts behind the scenes pictures that allow his followers to feel as if they’re part of an experience.

B2B marketers can follow Rondo’s example by providing a friendly look into the company’s inner workings — and maybe take advantage of the opportunity to show off a product. Last year, Boeing uploaded a video of a last-second stop during a takeoff — and with worn-out brakes, no less — that has since garnered nearly 900,000 views. The clip is just under three minutes but features knowledgeable employees and the successful stress-testing of an enormous 747. It’s sure to inspire confidence in consumers and, consequently, the executives that make the airliner purchasing decisions.

Takeaway: Don’t just let your followers know you through text. With rich media on sites like Instagram, YouTube or Pinterest, not to mention BrightTALK, you can humanize your company and connect more closely with your customers.

Watch: Using Rich Media Marketing to Generate Revenue

3. Don’t be too proud to ask for help.

There are certainly some social media naturals who already have enormous offline popularity or know inherently how to communicate in order to garner social media clout. Examples of this would be the naturally gregarious @Shaq and @Ochocinco, the wildly popular @JustinBieber and extremely well-known brands like @CocaCola. The following tweet by Justin Bieber had nearly 60,000 retweets as of the writing of this post:

 

 

He clearly has a working formula. A lesser-known person or business, however, might find it more difficult to build up a significant following on Twitter. It can be frustrating to promote what you believe to be outstanding content only to find that none of your 16 followers are interested in sharing it.

That feeling is precisely why there now exists an entire industry surrounding social media coaching. Rajon Rondo, in conjunction with Red Bull, used a consulting firm to help him grow his online brand. He was unfamiliar with how to go about building clout, so he found help to help guide him through the process and leverage his fame to build his online presence. As part of their strategy to grow Rondo’s brand, they created a Foursquare-based scavenger hunt that earned him more than 37k Twitter fans over the course of a week.

It’s easy to be intimidated by such a performance. B2B companies without a social media-savvy marketing team can easily lose themselves in the ocean of possibilities: Do you only use Twitter, or should Facebook play a role as well? What about LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest?

If you are feeling overwhelmed, look to an expert for help and consider hiring an experienced community manager or training your staff. You want to avoid making rookie mistakes on your corporate social media accounts. You might also consider leveraging the social savvy of college students and recent graduates with a marketing background. That’s not to say that you should put your social media into the hands of a 20 year-old intern; social media requires a solid understanding not only of the social space, but also of branding, customer relations and crisis management.

Takeaway: Get the help you need to make social work for you. Hundreds of millions of people are connected via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other communities. If you’re not yet in the social space, establish a presence – but if you’re unsure, educate yourself first.

Watch: Twitter as a Marketing, Communication and Branding Tool

Bonus: Interview with Rajon Rondo’s social media strategist