Where do you go to escape negative social media attention? Well, you could try one place that Twitter and Facebook will struggle to find you: China.
Some might think that is exactly what NBA “problem child” Stephon Marbury did when he moved to China a couple of weeks ago to play for Shanxi Zhongyu.
Marbury seems to have completely moved his social media presence. He posted his last Twitter entry on January 26, having already made his first entry a day earlier on the equivalent Chinese site. Marbury, the biggest NBA star ever to have played professional basketball in China, already has 26,132 fans on the Chinese Twitter-like Sina Microblog.
Of course, Marbury hopes to do more than escape twitterers; he is partly here to promote his clothing and apparel brand, Starbury. His posts frequently link to his Taobao store, where a pair of low-cost Starbury basketball shoes retail for around RMB 150-200 (USD 20-30).
I think this could become one of the best marketing uses so far of a Chinese microblog site, perfectly combining personal branding and product promotion.
Marbury is already creating a genuine dialogue with his fans. Earlier this week, for example, he engaged in a mammoth microblog Q&A, directly answering huge amounts of questions from fans.
Of course, challenges remain. He is only able to speak to his online fans in English, and his off-court brand will largely depend on his on-court success. Last week, Shanxi Zhongyu lost their first game with their new star.