So you say you have this social media app that you want to launch and are looking to make a really big splash? Hey, that’s easy. Just find yourself an immensely popular, 7-foot-1 basketball player to announce his retirement with it. That’s what “Tout” did yesterday.
Tout launched in mid-April as a free iPhone app. (The Android version is due late this summer.) Tout allows a user to record a 15-second video from their iOS device, and then post it to their Facebook or Twitter account. While it is a third-party app, the video will also post on a user’s Tout account at the Tout webpage.
“Some moments in life just can’t be reflected in text. Tout delivers ‘life as it happens’ in full-motion color and sound, as opposed to ‘life as it’s written in 140 characters or less’,” said Tout founder and CEO Michael Downing in a press release that introduced the app back on April 12. “Not everybody has witty and well-crafted writing skills to express themselves in blogs or Tweets, but we all have unique visual perspective and, these perspectives will be the basis of a new form of conversation and storytelling moving forward.”
But before Wednesday – actually, to be exact, about an hour after Shaquille O’Neal used Tout to record his retirement announcement that he then distributed through Tout and Twitter – Tout had 69 “likes” on its “Team Tout” Facebook page and 75 followers on Twitter @TeamTout.
Enter Shaq. Not only is he ducking through doorways at over 7-feet tall, but he brings 3.8 million Twitter followers with him. Yes, that’s right, 3.8 MILLION.
“Shaq will be using Tout as his own personal media network, updating his Twitter followers and his Facebook fans directly with new and exciting developments in his life following his retirement from the NBA,” Tout said in a statement announcing O’Neal’s use of the app.
That’s one way to get your name out there in a hurry. According to the Los Angeles Times, Shaq isn’t getting compensated by the start-up, but he is serving on its advisory board. And apparently, it was Shaq’s idea to make a big announcement via Tout. Although he kept the subject matter to himself, his staffers reached out to Tout’s staff in early May.
“We are as brand new as brand new gets,” Downing told the Times on Wednesday night. “The company’s been around for about a year, but we’ve only been live in beta for six weeks – and it’s an early stage beta, not without a couple bugs. Shaq came to us out of the blue, really. He liked what he saw and his team contacted us and said, ‘Hey, Shaq will be making a big announcement soon and wants to use your platform to do so.’ We’re just excited that he wanted to use our technology.
“On one hand we were thrilled that Shaq wanted to use Tout. But we were also scrambling to figure out how to beef up our servers and build up our backend to accommodate the traffic spike we expected once Shaq started using Tout,” Downing explained in the interview. “So it’s been a lot of excitement and a little bit of fear all at the same time for us over the last four weeks.”
So what kind of traffic does something like that bring? “Over 500,000 people have come through in the last hour or so, and we’ve had as many as 700,000 or 800,000 views,” Downing told the Times. “For us, that is an enormous amount of traffic and we’ve seen a lot of people ‘touting’ back and forth around this news too, which has been a lot of fun for us today. We’re really pumped.”