NBA All-Star Weekend is one of the league's most exciting annual events, where some of the world's top basketball stars put their skills on display in front of hordes of star struck fans. This year, a seven foot first-time All-Star from Cameroon became arguably the most talked about player of the weekend.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers participated in the Rising Stars Challenge and Skills Challenge before dazzling fans in his All-Star Game debut with 19 points, eight rebounds and a pair of emphatic blocks in just 20 minutes of action. His electric performance earned viral praise across Twitter.
Embiid was a beast. And this was just his first All Star game. Wait til Ben is there next year dropping dimes to him.-- Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) February 19, 2018
This is an old school "everyone's trying" All Star fourth quarter - I love it! Most interesting in-person note for me is how good/scary/unique Embiid was on a court with the best players in the league.-- Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) February 19, 2018
Embiid's making it to the All-Star Game was a compelling story in and of itself. The big man has only played in 75 regular season games since being drafted by the Sixers in 2014, plagued by two foot fractures and a torn meniscus. But his limited time on the court did not stop the big man from building a winning personal brand.
Nicknamed "The Process", Embiid has racked up over 1.2 million Twitter followers and 1.9 million Instagram followers, and it was that loyal following that helped him earn the third most All-Star fan votes this year among Eastern Conference frontcourt players, behind just LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Here's how Embiid became a social media all-star and what business leaders can learn from his magnetic personal brand.
Know your audience.
When Embiid was drafted by the Sixers, he joined an organization that had undergone a radical rebuilding process backed by die hard fans who adopted the slogan "trust the process" as their battle cry. Embiid was quick to promote the slogan, eventually embracing "The Process" as his nickname in 2016 when he was finally healthy enough to take the court.
Embiid understood that these fans had suffered through years of mediocrity, and he took it upon himself to become the face of hope and the future for the franchise. He immersed himself in the community and connected directly with fans during regular appearances at bars, Eagles games and other Philadelphia events.
It's important for business leaders and professionals to understand their key publics and communities. Embiid, an African native, was able to instantly connect with the Philadelphia fan base by hearing their frustrations and speaking to those pain points. You can do the same by listening and connecting with audiences at a deeper level.
Show them there's a person behind the profile.
Embiid is full of personality. On the court, most fans are well-aware of his pregame dance moves, and who can forget his epic butt slapping exchange with veteran center DeMarcus Cousins?
Off the court, Embiid has embraced Twitter and Instagram to broadcast his humor and promote the team's success to millions of fans. He's used Twitter to mock LaVar Ball, troll Hassan Whiteside and flirt with his crush Rihanna. And his Instagram skills earned praise over the weekend from All-Star teammate Draymond Green.
Draymond Green asked to label Joel Embiid's best skill: "Off the court, Instagram locations"-- Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 17, 2018
Social media users want to know that there's a person behind the profile. Too often, business leaders and professionals dilute their online personalities by trying to please everyone, but in reality, you're guaranteeing you won't engage or entertain anyone. Embiid understands this, and he's crafted a brilliant balance of team and self-promotion along with charming and funny posts.
Be captivating and consistent.
Embiid's consistency on social media has fueled his branding success. Fans can count on him to share a photo after a big win or to post humorous commentary on other things happening around the world.
Well America is tanking!!! All we can do is Trust The Process...-- Joel Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) November 9, 2016
He posts frequently enough to maintain a steady presence, about once a day to every other day, but he refrains from posting so much that his followers subconsciously tune it out. As a result, his posts routinely rack up tens of thousands of interactions.
Businesspeople need to find similar balance online. Once you find your sweet spot in terms of content and frequency, consistency will elevate your online brand to All-Star status.