The Marketing of Dwight Howard’s Signing


NBA’s most marketable free agent Dwight Howard announced his decision on July 5th to join the Houston Rockets when he posted the photo above to his Instagram account. Pictured with Howard is Houston Rockets Guard James Harden. Howard used the caption, “Houston we have liftoff.”

The Instagram photo received over 42,100 likes (13% of followers) and 15,400 comments (5% of followers) from his 301,695 followers.

The photo was also shared through Twitter and received 7,859 retweets (.1% of followers) and 3,093 favorites (.07% of followers).

Howard did not share the Instagram photo through his Fan Page on Facebook but did post this: I’ve decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets. I feel its the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I’m looking forward to a great season. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best.”

And yes, the quotation mark at the end was left on. This was most likely one of many prepared quotes that his agent supplied as an option to post on social media, and Dwight left on the end quotation mark when he copy/pasted.

The Facebook post received 47,245 likes (2% of Fans) 13,424 comments (.4% of Fans) and 5,095 shares (.15% of Fans) on Facebook.

Though Howard’s decision was less publicized and dramatic than LeBron’s famous “Decision,” Howard’s is yet another benchmark in the digital marketing of athletes. Another important note is the growing importance of Instagram in sports marketing. By now, most professional teams have created and used Instagram for posting content. Fan interaction and overall growth from the post show why Instagram is the most rapidly growing medium in sports marketing, and marketing in general.

Here is a look at the digital marketing numbers of both Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets, before and after the signing.


Facebook Twitter Instagram Klout
Before 3,308,003 4,223,578 301,695 88
After 3,297,453 4,272,971 321,171 90
Change -10,550 49,393 19,476 2
% Change -0.31% 1.17% 6.45% 2.27%


Facebook Twitter Instagram Klout
Before 701,754 234,067 66,855 89
After 705,955 240,723 69,129 89
Change 4,201 6,656 2,274 0
% Change 0.60% 2.84% 3.40% 0%


I previously wrote about Howard being greater than most NBA teams when it came to digital media and sports marketing. This may still be true, but an interesting number was the decrease in Facebook Fans. Howard previously played for the Lakes, ranked as the number one team on Digital Sports Voice’s NBA Social Media Rankings. The drop in marketability from the Lakers to the Rockets (ranked 14) could explain the negative growth in his Facebook marketing.

An increase in Klout influence is due to the social media swarm around his decision. Howard’s interactions with fans are still abismal. Most replies on Twitter and Facebook are kept to less than 5 words and hold no substance or significance. I still believe Howard can make himself more marketable than even the LA Lakers, setting himself up for more endorsements, book deals, fan approval, anything he would want. He just needs to create substantial content, something that matters more than “Sup” or “I see you.” Could you imagine if Howard invested in professional photo, video and written content for his channels? Not only would he never have to post from his personal phone, but the followers and fans would continue to steadily increase over his career. Once retired, he would be left with a personal platform to supply endorsements and any other post-career ventures Howard might be interested in.

One last note surrounding Howard’s digital marketing during the NBA free agent frenzy. He removed, “In search of that ring” from his Twitter bio.