The LeBron Effect: An Internet Marketer’s Guide To Tonight’s Announcement

lebron james effectI’ve got some quick thoughts about tonight’s LeBron James announcement. From an Internet marketing consultant‘s perspective, here’s what I’ll be paying attention to during the telecast:

First, what’s going to happen to Twitter? Will it hold up? This will be the most watched press conference in the Twitter Era since Tiger’s fake presser a couple of months ago. LeBron has been a trending topic all day. It will be interesting to see if Twitter can avoid putting up the fail whale once his decision becomes official. Twitter has held up fairly well during the World Cup, so you’d think they should be fine. But once he makes it official, it will be like someone let the water run from the Hoover Dam – a giant burst all at once.

Second, every team that’s still in the race better be ready for an onslaught of traffic – especially if he changes teams. So I’ll be watching to see if that winning team’s site stays up or crashes. Put it this way…if I’m in the IT department or web team for the Knicks, Nets, or Heat, I’m not taking a lunch today. There’s too much to do and too much at stake.

For example, a contingency plan for bandwidth better be done or in the works. Once LeBron announces, I’m sure that team’s website will break it’s all-time traffic record for a single day. The website has to stay up. People will want to buy season tickets right away. And the demand for LeBron’s new game jersey will be insane. There’s a ton of money at stake.

To the IT guy’s defense, there hasn’t been a lot of time to plan. The press conference was announced less than 48 hours before the actual event. You could argue, however, that all potential teams should have been anticipating an event like this for the last week. The reality is that only superstar hosting companies can move fast to be ready for the demand. It will all come down to a teams’ relationship with their vendor. For some, it might already be too late. And the sad part is they know it. They know their site is going to crash.

The second reason to work all day today is a website update has to be in perfect alignment with the announcement. Whatever team wins should have LeBron up on their site within seconds. All of the possible outcomes should be working on new banners right now. Have the updates ready now and then just refresh the page.

The last thing I’ll be looking for: will any of the checkin apps geared towards TV viewing make a name for themselves tonight? Unless Americans gear up to watch a boring World Cup matchup on Sunday, this is probably going to be the biggest sporting event (and possibly TV event) of the Summer. Can a service like CrowdZone step it up and make a mark tonight? It’s a great opportunity to make some noise while this niche is still developing.

I don’t really care what team LeBron picks. The fact that he’s having a televised press conference is annoying. But the link to social media and the web is fascinating. Maybe nothing will happen and all will run smoothly. Maybe there will be major failures. I’ll be watching just to see how it all plays out.

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