Social media & branding tips from Kentucky first round picks

He helped Kentucky win the NCAA Championship in 1996 and was part of the Miami Heat’s 2006 NBA Championship, but Derek Anderson wishes someone would have told him 25 years ago the importance of building his brand early, and how to do it.

“If someone could have told me like what (INFLCR) is doing, or can help me out, that would have pushed my life and career, everything, on, because, I wouldn’t have had to do so much,” Anderson said. “When you get that opportunity to do it at 18 that literally saves years on your career, your life, your business, so I could literally retire from anything probably at 35 or 36 because you’ve doubled 18 years of experience, that’s the key to winning. Experience is the greatest teacher you’ve ever had. I’d tell myself go build a brand now.”

Today, Anderson (@DerekLAnderson) has used Kentucky’s brand to build a brand that helps develop youth through the Stamina Foundation’s Program You with a mission to change the way people think and equip them with life skills and how to have common courtesy, respect and value of self.

University of Kentucky basketball, which is using INFLCR to organize, equip and develop its student-athletes, alumni, and staff for social media branding, is one of the most successful programs in helping its student-athletes get drafted by the NBA, producing 118 overall draft picks and 46 first round selections all-time. Since 2010, the Big Blue Nation has produced 24 first round selections.

INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale recently caught up with Anderson and three other Kentucky first round picks at Rupp Arena to talk about the importance of brand building and social media.

Anderson, who was the No. 1 pick in the 1997 NBA Draft, says in the days prior to social media “you’d have to text a thousand people or call them to let them know I’m at the Kentucky Regional. But now you have easier access on how you can make it better, so now use the platform that way.”

Eric Bledsoe (@EBled2), a 2010 first round selection and now seven-year NBA veteran, says the best advice he gives about social media is to “do the same thing you do on the court. Respect yourself on the court, respect yourself off the court.”

Four-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) said self-editing is key when posting on social media.

“If you’ve got to think twice about posting it, then you probably shouldn’t post it,” said Rondo, who was a member of the Boston Celtics’ 2008 NBA championship team. “If you don’t know, ask someone that’s older. Ask your coach. He’ll probably say no, but I always get good advice, you know. So you don’t have to go backward and dig yourself out of a hole.”

Karl-Anthony Towns (@KarlTowns), who was selected No. 1 overall in 2015 and named the 2016 NBA Rookie of the Year for the Minnesota Timberwolves says “social media is a great way of interacting with fans and posting stuff and promoting my business.

“When I look at social media, I look at it as a tool to enhance the player that is on the court and off the court as well. I think it’s a great way to start relationships and build them, and also give a chance to the fans to really feel connected with you.”

Having lived through the pre-social media era, Anderson also says it is still important to build a brand the traditional way by how you interact one-on-one while utilizing social media as a way to communicate to the masses.

“I walk in an arena, no matter if it’s away or home, and I speak to people. I think people remember how you made them feel more than what they see on the court because they’re going to see a bunch of guys come onto the court,” Anderson said. “Always be mindful that you’ve got to interact with people so they know that you’re able to be approached, and that’s the same thing I tell the kids, if they can approach you, they’ll give you a job. As opposed to the person that never speaks.”

About Jim Cavale

Jim Cavale has been an entrepreneur since college when he co-founded a sports TV/Radio streaming network for his university, and then created a product to sell to other universities to help them stream their sporting events. Since then, Jim has exited multiple businesses, most recently selling his equity as President of Iron Tribe Fitness after more than six years in which he helped lead the brand from one gym in Alabama to more than 40 gym locations across America from Seattle to Miami. He is a three-time INC. 5000 entrepreneur who has recently founded two new emerging brands in the GLOW beauty on demand app and the Influencer SaaS product that empowers brands to partner with their brand ambassadors on social media. Jim is a published author with Entrepreneur Press, has spoken on stages of all sizes and publishes content regularly at
Follow him at @JimCavale on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

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