LeBron James Takes Fans Behind-the-Scenes During the NBA Finals

Social media serves as an effective means for athletes to build their brands, provide fans with unique access points, and no longer need to rely on traditional media outlets to gain exposure and gain noteriety throughout the year.

While most athletes turn to social media periodically to engage with fans, few have leveraged the channel to provide fans with behind-the-scenes perspectives and insights throughout an entire playoff series or season. In the past few months, LeBron James has emerged as a leader in the space, providing fans with an inside look at his gear, style, and meals throughout the season and 2011 NBA Finals.

James and a collection of his personal assistants have turned to YouTube and his site, LeBronJames.com, to film a series of low-budget vignettes that share with fans what items are in his practice bag, what outfits he plans to wear during post-game press conferences, and what meals he prefers to devour to get ready for big games.

As James' off-the-court virals continue to gain noteriety online, they will serve as a perfect means to incorporate product placement and corporate partner integration (e.g. what cars LeBron drives, what electronics/technology he uses, what music/movies he enjoys, etc.), and will build new followers along the way.

Check out some recent examples of LeBron's off-the-court virals below, which were all recorded specifically for the 2011 NBA Finals:  

LeBron's Practice Bag (Finals Edition)

LeBron's Closet (2011 Finals Edition)

Cookin' with the King (Finals Edition, Game 1)

LeBron James and HP Team Up to Create a New Cartoon Series, "The LeBrons"

LeBron James has teamed up with HP to create a new online cartoon series entitled "The LeBrons" that is designed to engage fans of all ages, but notably kids. LeBron has embarked on a brilliant online content strategy that allows him to integrate his corporate partners into the mix, with characters in the series wearing Nike apparel, using HP products, using Bing for web searches, and listening to Beats by Dre headphones.

In just 10 days, the first episode of The Lebrons has attracted nearly 800,000 views on YouTube and the second episode has attracted nearly 300,000 views in just a matter of days.

The LeBrons web series is just another example of how professional athletes can further build their brands into a complete empire using a variety of channels (social media, television, retail, etc.). Athletes no longer rely on the media to drive their brand - they drive it themselves. The Lebrons series is hosted on a designated YouTube page that features advertising courtesy of LeBron's portfolio of corporate partners (Bing, Sprite, Nike, HP, etc.).

The animated cartoon series features four (4) different versions of LeBron and effectively ties back to LeBron's kid-friendly Nike campaign that dates back a few years. Check out the first two episodes of "The LeBrons" below as well as a trailer that provides a sneak peak of other things you can expect from the series: