Since the injury occurred against the Golden State Warriors, fans have been given a glimpse into the heart, mind and brand of an athlete who has over the course of his career, earned world wide status as one of the most recognised athletes in sport. Bryant has increased his online presence dramatically of late, and has proved an intriguing addition on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for Lakers and NBA fans alike.
Bryant joined Twitter on January 4th, announcing the ‘Antisocial has become Social #mambatweets.' Yet given how forthcoming he has been via this platform, you could be forgiven for feeling confused by his ‘antisocial’ self-assessment. His tweeting habits have included words of encouragement to team mates, recognition of opponent’s performances and insight into his daily activities and rehabilitation. Bryant is honest and engaging on Twitter, and has a clear handle on hash tag use; first describing himself as a fine red aging #VINO, then incorporating #countonkobe in his tweets to illustrate, despite his setback, he was as competitive as ever:
That Facebook Post…
Following the Golden State game, but prior to receiving any MRI scans to diagnose the severity of the injury, a sleep deprived and frustrated Kobe took to Facebook at 3:30am to vent his thoughts:
This was a very emotional and raw ‘status update’, which gave fans and supporters a rare view into his thoughts at a time in which he was vulnerable and questioning the longevity of his career. Kobe’s desire to succeed and his forever present determination was also on display as he vowed to return, but not before affirming that for now he was to assume the role of the aforementioned ‘Coach Vino’.
Reading it over again, you can’t help feel the emotional outpouring in what was a genuinely heart-felt update. This is what social media platforms offer, an avenue for users to share their thoughts and feelings to their friends and followers. Sporting organisations and players are using these avenues more effectively to further develop their brand, as the many platforms allows them to have a ‘personality’ which fans, customers and clients can relate to and connect with.
Kobe on Instagram: 14 posts, 650,000+ followers & 1 person followed
Kobe’s all-star status as one of the greatest athletes on social media grew even more the following day as he started an Instagram account. His first post came as he was getting his MRI, followed by a shot of him getting ready for surgery. Kobe continued with his love of hashtags using #highasakite and #mambaout to humorously convey his pre-surgery thoughts:
Bryant’s personality is consistent through all his accounts. He is honest and likes to speak his mind, has fun with his hashtags and doesn't shy away from showing his disappointment. This glimpse into the heart and mind in turn elevates Kobe Bryant as a brand.
Bryant has turned a tough time in his life into a positive and is taking us on the emotional ride with him. He has also done an incredible job in presenting himself professionally, which could not be said for other athletes (case in point, NRL Josh Dugan). As a result of opening the doors into his life, people can now relate to the Kobe brand on a personal level. They have seen the hardship and now understand what makes the superstar tick; solidifying the ideas of the #KOBESYSTEM and he will ‘Dominate Achilles’
I'll be following Kobe’s #mambaisms on Twitter and all his other social media activity and strongly advise you do too, as I am sure he will have a lot to tweet, post and share over the playoffs.
Breaking News: Kobe WILL NOT be tweeting during Playoff games
UPDATE: The unthinkable has happened. After receiving national attention during the ABC broadcast, Bryant announced that he wouldn't be tweeting during games:
Upon hearing the news, the Los Angeles Times ran a poll to gauge fans' reaction to the news. Six hours in, and it seems they want Kobe to keep live tweeting during games:
Fingers crossed he'll still provide pre and post-game thoughts via his social media platforms; he may even decide to tweet during playoff matchups that don't involve the Lakers, even if he still has a bit to learn when it comes to sharing images (and a sneak peek of the new Facebook timeline):
But you've got to admire a man who has winning at the forefront of his mind and continually wants to do what's best for his team.
Have a listen to the discussion Sean had with Harf on Harf Time about Kobe Bryant.