Fred Hoiberg Turns Into A Social Media Celebrity

fred hoiberg iowa state cyclones

By Thomas Lashier

“I think social media is going to be the end of us. I really do.”

Can you guess who made that statement on February 24th? Your grandfather? Some crotchety old geezer, behind the times and afraid of computers? Guess again.

It was beloved Ames native and Iowa State head basketball coach, Fred Hoiberg. He was discussing fans using social media to attack college student athletes, and he has a point. But that’s another discussion altogether. You might now Fred better as #Swagberg, or the star of the “Freddy Dance“. So how has a local basketball legend opposed to social media become a national social media phenomenon?

For one, Fred has been himself. Whether it’s a goofy dance or a funny tweet (see below), Fred has let his personality shine through social media. And Fred doesn’t just tweet about basketball or Iowa State, he lets you into his life. For example, after Iowa State’s thrilling 3OT road victory over Oklahoma State, Fred tweeted this:

“Huh? This doesn’t have anything to do with baskeball!”  you say. True, but this tweet was retweeted over 1,800 times. This is because its genuine. Its funny. And it even connects with (and pokes fun at) everyone else who is also flustered by playing Flappy Birds!

It doesn’t hurt if you’re funny. Including a joke or poking fun at yourself endears you to followers, and increases the chances of being shared, retweeted, and liked. People want to seem funny to their friends, so if you’re funny, they are going to share it. 

In this video, Fred appears with another local legend: The Iowa Nice Guy (aka Scott Siepker). Siepker, an ISU grad, produces funny and satirical videos with an Iowa theme. He regularly appears on ESPN’s College Football Daily, and here he is joking about the state’s love affair with Fred. And Fred doesn’t just share the video, he’s in it. He pokes fun at himself and the very comments we published earlier in this post.

Lastly, Fred responds. Unlike other high-profile  that spout their own thoughts and then ignore all comments from others’, Fred has increased his reach by engaging with other people on social media. One look at his Twitter feed and you’ll see has retweeted others’ tweets, and even gotten involved in a good-spirited war of words with former NBA teammate, Mark Madsen:

Fred didn’t just respond, he added a photo for people to laugh at! Responding (when it’s appropriate) makes people see that Fred is a real person, not some robot automating all of his tweets and Facebook posts.

And when you do all of these things, people will start creating buzz for you. After Fred’s famous locker room dance after Iowa State advanced to the Sweet 16, a YouTube user created a funny video titled #Swagberg:

Fred clearly didn’t ask for this publicity, but he got it because Iowans and people around the country have begun to feel truly connected to him. They are creating buzz for him because they just genuinely like the guy.

Couldn’t your brand use buzz like that? Could you be more genuine? More funny? More responsive? What could your brand learn from Fred?

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4 thoughts on “Fred Hoiberg Turns Into A Social Media Celebrity

  1. I’m glad that I’m not the only one that picked up on the irony of Fred bemoaning social media and at the same time being so good at it. While not a frequent Tweeter, the quality of his Tweets is what stands out. He got a huge reaction to his two Tweets immediately following their Big12 Championship win. (photo with his old coach Johnny Orr and the photo with his “Starting 5” family). He comes across as sincere and genuine, which is exactly how he his in real life.

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