Since the competition has taken a break, I am doing the same to talk about a different topic, something I consider very important: social media and how to interact with fans nowadays. First of all, social media has turned every person into their own marketing product. Technology has improved a lot and social networks are part of our everyday lives now. A mobile phone is almost attached to our hands these days. What you say or publish on a social netowrk is an extension of what you say and do. Some people are more exposed than others, but at the end of the day, it provides a connection with your team's fans and basketball people all over the world – no matter where they are! It makes you connect with people you wouldn't know about if it wasn't for social media, and that is great.
I have had many positive experiences – and some negative ones, too – on social media. A lot of people got in touch with me through social media to make someone a gift; for instance, a birthday video for a friend, or even to congratulate a couple for their wedding or even for their engagement. Some people get in touch with you to make sure you locate them after the game to sign something specific, like a jersey they bought as a Christmas present or a birthday present for a friend. There is a good story related to the EuroCup: we went to play in Zielona Gora, Poland, and some Erasmus students from Spain got in touch to see if we could find them tickets for the game. It was a group of students and they asked every player they could on the team. They came to the game and sat behind our bench, cheering for us all game long. It was great, because we didn't expect much support in that game and they ended up helping us, too.
"It provides a connection with your team's fans and basketball people all over the world."
I guess that the more famous you are, or the better player you are, the more chances you have to get negative comments. Like I said before, I also had some negative experiences, especially when you play on the road against a team with a hot atmosphere. You may get some nasty messages insulting you or threatening you. Some of those messages warn you about the kind of atmosphere you will face in that upcoming game. Nothing terrible ever happened to me in any road game, but you get messages like that sometimes. Most messages are from people who try to cheer for you and your team, very positive messages. You can tell they really care about you, and trying to connect with you is very difficult sometimes, but social media helps.
The good thing is that you can control how much you want to be on social media, to get more exposure or none at all if that is your choice. It goes with every player's character; you choose your limit on social media and how much you can be exposed. For instance, I have a former teammate, Edgar Vicedo, who has become a YouTuber. He is very active on social networks. Another one, Quino Colom, is co-hosting a weekly podcast, BasketCast. Just the same, few people take a strong step forwards on social media. Most of the players stick to uploading pictures before and after the games, as well as showing what you do in your spare time so that people can get to know the things that you do outside of basketball. I choose to publish pictures of special situations, like my wedding or our trip to the Philippines last summer. Sometimes, I publish pictures of my family, too, so that people can see how much I enjoy being with them when I am not playing basketball. Of course, you are more willing to go on social networks when you are winning. In our current situation, we are less active and results definitely have an impact on that.
It is very common to exchange messages with other players on social media instead of calling each other. Whatsapp and private messages have changed everything when it comes to staying in touch with former teammates. Sometimes a friend changes his phone or moves to a different country, but you know his social media account will be the same, so it is easier to connect through Instagram or Twitter. For instance, I barely talk to Juancho Hernangomez on Whatsapp. He has a Spanish number and an American number, and I cannot figure out which one he uses more. Sometimes it is easier to get in touch with him on Instagram when he is online or uploaded some picture. He answers back almost immediately and it is easier for us to stay in touch. It happens with other players, too. In the end, we change teams all the time and by using social networks, we managed to keep in touch.
You have to try to be cautious and put your team first. It is a good way to use social media – in my case, to be on the same page as Gran Canaria, because we have the same goals during the season. You have to be aware of when it is best to upload this or that picture, and what to upload. The club has sometimes encouraged me to be in the same line of action as them, when they release an important message on social media, and that is a good thing. Before the season, we had a meeting with the EuroLeague in which they explained to us what the competition is about, how it works and how important players are in order to get more fans to follow it. Of course, social networking can help that connection happen. The more interactions and the bigger reach, the better. Influencers make a living on social media and make a lot of money just by uploading the right pictures at the right time. We have a marketing impact on people who follow basketball.
"It is very common to exchange messages with other players on social media"
Gran Canaria does a great job on social media, sending a very positive message. We work for the same company, so whatever it is good for the club in terms of social media coverage, it will be good for us. I think it is mandatory to follow what your club publishes on social media and support them as much as you can. In the end, you have to carry on with your life, be yourself and always keep in mind that a lot of people may read what you say on social media. It has changed the whole landscape; every tweet you publish, everything you say is read more frequently than before. You have to be smart and respectful.
People will talk to you on social media, and most of the critics are constructive. At the same time, you cannot pretend than everyone will agree with you. You need to be aware of who says what and how he or she is saying it. Opinions are always welcome! Your fans now express their feelings about you and not just on the court, but off the court, too. Generally speaking, social media is a good tool and makes you reach basketball fans anywhere in the world. And that, of course, is a great thing.