Top NBA Players With the Highest Social Interactions Among Fans

With the NBA playoffs underway, it is a bit of a surprise that – out of the league’s Top 10 Most Engaging Athletes for May – the only players to actually touch the court were Giannis Antetokounmpo for the Bucks (#2), Steph Curry for the Warriors (#5), and CJ McCollum for the Trail Blazers (#9). Dwyane Wade spent another month on top with 6.4M interactions, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 5.0M interactions and Kyle Kuzma with 2.0M interactions. Overall, the top 10 players who drove the most engagement posted not only about basketball, but also gave followers glimpses into their personal lives with posts about friends, family, and vacations.

Note: All data from Hookit Engagement rankings on June 10th, 2019. Data is updated consistently to reflect live rankings on the Hookit Rankings website.

#OneLastDance and #AnotherMonthOnTop

Dwyane Wade spent another month on top, though this time with 6.4M interactions, down from the 10.6M interactions he had in April. It’s hard to compete with the engagement that he generated in April, which marked his #OneLastDance on the court after an 18-year long career. May was filled with posts about his family and loved ones. One of his most-liked posts for the month combined DWade’s love for basketball with love for his family: a photo of his 17 year-old son playing basketball with the caption, “Like Father…Like Son,” and racked up 404k likes.

The “Greek Freak” Follows Close Behind

Giannis Antetokounmpo climbed four spots in May, jumping from number six to number two with 5.0M engagements. In April, Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks – for the first time since 2001 – advance to the second round of playoffs with a four-game sweep against the Pistons. Even with his NBA All-Star status, Antetokounmpo’s buzz in May could have been spurred by his reaction to rapper Drake’s sideline chirps, his accidental diss to the Boston Celtics while they were already down, or rumors surrounding a collaboration with Nike to produce his own signature shoe. His most-liked photo from May was a goodbye post for his 2018-19 NBA season, and came in at a whopping 2.1M likes.

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Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma came in third for the month of May with 2.0M interactions. Kuzma was chosen to represent the Lakers at the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, and his most-liked photo on Instagram for the month at 491k likes was a captionless photo of him making a funny face at the event. His content seems to touch on anything that appears interesting to him, and for May that meant posts about his teammates and traveling.

Stephen vs. The Game

Another interesting change took place with Golden State Warriors player Steph Curry’s ranking, which rose from eleventh in April to fifth in May. This increase is likely due to Curry’s new documentary that aired on Facebook Watch on May 2nd titled Stephen vs. The Game, which features Curry’s journey to get to the NBA as well as a look into his home and personal life.

The Wrap-Up

May’s engagement for NBA athletes was surprising, given that the Top 10 had only three players who competed within the month. Other athletes were able to solidify their spots in the Top 10 despite injury, retirement, or loss in the playoffs; although these seven players were absent from the court in May, their ability to engage with their audience endured and kept them in the Top 10. Brands are able to leverage these interactions and use them to their advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s “farewell” post for the 2018-19 season, for instance, featured a prominent Nike swoosh on his jersey. It was his most-liked photo on Instagram – not only during the month of May, but also since he began posting to the app – and this post likely generated tremendous value for Nike. Athletes can use social media to interact with their fans, which provides brands with an opportunity to leverage sponsored athletes as a direct line to their target audiences. When used well, social media is a powerful tool that can be employed by both brands and athletes to drive interactions with consumers and fans.

Note: All data is from official Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram Business accounts. Any personal Instagram account data is not included in these rankings.

Written by Hayley Pogue

Hayley is a rising senior and NCAA Div. 1 athlete at Bucknell University working towards a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Markets, Innovation, and Design. Her major deals with innovative product development, while her concentration in consumer analytics focuses on data’s role in the consumer experience. She has joined the Hookit team as a content marketing intern for the summer of 2019. To learn more about or connect with Hayley, please visit her LinkedIn.

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