Shaquille O'Neal v Lance Armstrong ... On Twitter

Lance Armstrong and Shaquille O'Neal are two of the biggest names in sports, culture and beyond.  Even if I'm more of a Miguel Indurain / Michael Jordan fan, I  admire these legends for venturing into the world of Twitter. [If you're still not familiar with Twitter, please watch this video from Common Craft]

Comparing Lance and Shaq in terms of their professional abilities is difficult since they play such different sports [can you say with any confidence that Lance is a better cyclist than Shaq is a baller?].  But Twitter is even ground for these giants, and I think it's time to compare celebrity Tweeters @lancearmstrong v @the_real_shaq.  I'll reveal my opinion in a minute, but first let's look at some raw numbers (as I write this post) ...

  • Shaq has 20,849 followers to Lance's 11,592.
  • Shaq is following 334 people (62:1), to Lance's 33 (351:1).
  • Shaq has Tweeted 191 times since November 18 (roughly 7.5/day) to Lance's 360 Tweets since October 15 (roughly 6/day).
  • Of Shaq's 50 most recent Tweets, 6 were @ replies.  That's compared to 2 for Lance (both to @kikarmstrong, whom I presume is related to him).

And more qualitatively:

  • Shaq's bio is: VERY QUOTATIOUS.  Classic Shaq.
  • Lance's Bio: 7-time Tour de France winner, full time cancer fighter - LIVESTRONG!  Seemingly pulled straight from his official bio.
  • Shaq brings the humor pretty consistently.  Look at this recent run from just a few days ago:

Shaquille O'Neal Twitter

  • Lance is not funny, but he's really not trying to be [nor is humor a requisite for Twitter success - it just happens to be something I appreciate].  He's a little more inside-jokey with his cycling buddies, but that does me no good.
  • Lance is very generous about posting photos via TwitPic, and I must say that some of them are really cool.  Check out this one from a recent press conference:Lance Armstrong

  • Shaq is more of a TXT kind of guy.  Seems so old school already.
  • For the most part, Lance's Tweets are either about cycling, media obligations or his foundation.  Fair enough, those are three massive commitments in his life.  Shaq tends to meander a bit, but in an entertaining way.

So where do I net out?  I think Shaq takes it for two reasons:

Shaq is more engaged with his audience [as evidenced by his ratio of followers/following and frequency of @ replies].  Lance uses Twitter as more of a broadcast medium than a dialogue one.  He’s got something to say, and Twitter is a forum in which he can broadcast it.

Shaq is less polished.  Spelling errors, jokes, abbreviations – it all feels more real.  Lance’s Tweets are exactly how you would expect them to be – don’t really know how to explain what I mean, but you know what I mean?

Again, Shaq wins by just a hair.  But Lance is doing some pretty cool stuff, most notably letting us behind the scenes via his photos.  I’ve also noticed he takes enormous pride in introducing his friends and family to Twitter – this earns him some points as well. 

I do wonder if, at the end of the day, their fame transcends the basic rules of social media.  I suspect people will continue to hang on every Tweet – regardless of their level of dialogue (vs broadcast), frequency, access, etc.

Either way I applaud both for opening themselves up on Twitter.  I can't begin to imagine the enormous demands on their time and how furiously they must guard their privacy.  So in the spirit of the holiday (and good sportsmanship), they're both winners in my book.

What do you think?  Are there other celebs (of this stature) doing it even better?  Let me know.