Big Shaq Talks Up Big Social-Media Plans

Shaquille O’Neal says he isn’t retired.

The Big Aristotle announced via Twitter in June that he was done with basketball. But since then, he has busied himself by promoting his book, “Shaq Uncut,” and by preparing to team up with Charles Barkley as a TNT basketball analyst this year.

O’Neal has also been working on his website,, which is what he wanted to talk about during a phone interview last week. During a call that included his brand manager, Mary Gleason, he also discussed his business plans, dispensed social-media advice and talked a little Barkley and basketball. Some edited excerpts:

WSJ: What have you been up to since leaving basketball?

O’Neal: Right now, I’m doing a book tour, I’m working on TNT and selling shoes and selling apparel and just working off my tail.

WSJ: How hard is it to maintain your brand now that you’re not playing basketball?

O’Neal: Just because I’m not playing basketball doesn’t mean I’m going anywhere. Mary has done a great job, and I think I’ve done a great job getting out to people.

There are so many media outlets. I got my Twitter, I got my Facebook, I got my It’s all there.

WSJ: What’s the point of What do you want people to think of when they visit it?

O’Neal: Hopefully, they’ll think of a someone who is very nice and polite, and someone who makes you laugh and someone who always has a great product.

WSJ: How important is social media to your business strategy?

O’Neal: Everybody’s doing it. We were way ahead of the curve. We had conversations about doing this.

It’s like me having my own network. People enjoy me making them laugh. That’s why I have so many followers. I have had so many athletes that (have come to me for social-media advice). I said I don’t have a particular science or formula behind it, but people like my sense of humor and know that I’m very, very genuine.

WSJ: Do you have a sense of what you’ll tweet about before you do it, or do you post funny things as they to your mind?

O’Neal: My mantra is 60% to make you laugh, 30% to inspire you and 10% to let you know about this product.

You just have to be genuine and want to be authentic. A lot of people are trying to sell themselves. … We don’t need to force it.

Jimmy (Kimmel) asked me to go on the show, and we’re promoting this book. But that show’s more about having fun. The book was onstage, but it wasn’t about the book.

WSJ: Moving onto hoops, you’re about to join Charles Barkley as a TV basketball analyst. You are two big guys with two big personalities. How are you both going to get a word in?

O’Neal: We have different perspectives. (Former player and current TV analyst) Kenny Smith is a little guy. He’s got a Napoleon complex. Charles Barkley is a know-it-all. And I’m the guy who’s done it all. We’ve got different perspectives about what’s going on.

WSJ: The consensus about the NBA lockout was that the owners won. Do you think the players played their cards right?

O’Neal: If you look at it from a percentage point of view, the owners did win, 51-49. (Under the new NBA contract, players will get up to 51% of the league’s basketball-related income, down from 57% in the previous contract.) But the players are getting their checks, and it’s now time to get the game back on track.