November 20, 2020

2020 NBA Draftee Follower Growth on Twitter and Instagram

SBJ Atlas

SF Patrick Williams catapulted in follower growth on social media during the 2020 NBA draft, showcasing just how rapidly collegiate athletes can become influential stars.   

As the fourth overall pick to the Bulls, Patrick Williams was by far the biggest mover of the night with a 142% follower increase on Instagram and a ludicrous 13,186% increase on Twitter. Williams, a one-and-done sixth man out of Florida State, saw his Twitter account go from unverified with just 70 followers to verified with 9,300 followers and counting. Foreign players Killian Hayes (followers up 501% on Twitter) and Aleksej Pokusevski (357% on Twitter) were the second and third highest movers, respectively. Hayes, from France, garnered more than 36,000 total engagements from posts the night before the draft, with branded content from endorsers Verizon and Marriott International. However, in his first post after being drafted, he was able to generate almost 45,000 total engagements, 9,000 more than the combined total of the previously mentioned pre-draft posts.  

James Wiseman, drafted second by the Warriors, led all players with seven posts all featuring different brands. The diversity of his pre-draft posts, as well as his draft position, saw him gain more than 124,000 followers on Instagram, more than any other player in the draft. Anthony Edwards, the first pick in the draft, took a different approach with multiple posts sponsored by fashion brand Tissot. Edwards, with a relatively high follower count, saw moderate growth across Instagram and Twitter.

LaMelo Ball, the most popular athlete on social media in this draft, saw modest overall gains on Instagram and Twitter. His growth is slightly misleading, however, when considering his prior popularity. Ball gained more than 117,000 followers on Instagram, second most in the draft, and led in growth on Twitter with more than 19,000 new followers. 

Indochino (7), Mountain Dew (7), Verizon (7) and Wingstop (6) were featured in more posts from draftees than any other brands. Of these posts, Indochino held the top three most engaged posts among sponsors, with one from James Wiseman topping them all at a total of 17,193 engagements. Immanuel Quickley, the 25th overall pick by the Thunder (rights traded to the Knicks), had the second highest post for Indochino with 13,819 in total engagements. Knicks teammate and 8th overall pick, Obi Toppin, had Indochino’s third highest at 13,030.