Meet the Man Behind @dunk
Written by Drew Hammell
In the wild wild west of social media, it takes a unique, energetic, dynamic account to stand out from all the rest. Instagram alone is filled to the brim with all types of sports accounts dedicated to photos, memes and videos of star athletes from around the world. One account that has been able to differentiate itself from the others is @dunk.
With 2.2 million followers on Instagram, @dunk provides viewers with fresh daily content from the basketball world. As accounts grow larger and larger, they tend to distance themselves from followers’ comments and direct messages. Not @dunk, though. Eliot Robinson, founder of the supremely successful IG account, strives to answer all of his commenters, which is definitely rare in this day and age. After meeting Robinson for the first time a few months ago in New York City, I decided to follow up and chat with the 20-year-old about his rise to social media stardom, and the secrets to his success.
First off – where are you from?
“I’m originally from Stockholm, Sweden. Over in Europe. Beautiful city. Beautiful country. Beautiful women.”
You’re a pretty big basketball fan – how’d that happen over in Sweden?
“I think my dad just kind of put me on a team when I was 5 years old. He’s originally from Boston, and I don’t think the Celtics had won a ring for a while, that period when they had a little drought after the Larry (Bird) Era. I’ve loved basketball ever since. I grew up thinking I was going to win them (the Celtics) that ring. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school in 2013 that I realized that probably wasn’t going to happen, hence why I started @dunk.”
So how did you get @dunk going?
“I always loved video editing – haha wow, you should see the videos I made on my old Sony Ericsson Walkman when I was like 8 – they were the meanest music videos ever. I figured I’d start an account on Instagram where I added music onto NBA videos and synced up the audio with the dunk. I remember (Russell) Westbrook recently had a dunk against the Jazz – it was so nasty. Dribble in, one, two, DUNK. I was in a Kendrick (Lamar) mood that day, and I thought to myself there was no other song that would fit better than ‘M.A.A.D City.’ It was perfect. Instagram had just launched their video feature, (so) I sat down, cooked together a video, and made an account.”
What brought you to New York?
“I realized I had people watching my stuff – hundreds of thousands of people at that time. So, I asked myself, now what? Should I be making money off of this? How do I do that? Why are people watching my stuff? I started looking up “How to market on Instagram,” and then one day I came across an IG account called @Secrets2Success (cheesy name I know).
Someone was screaming at me telling me I didn’t need a fancy watch or something. I’d just bought a watch. I loved watches, not the flashiness of them, but the mechanics and feel. And the idea that you could buy it for $X, then sell it for more after using it for years. ‘What does this guy know?’ I thought to myself.
It turns out he knew quite a bit. That guy screaming at me through the screen was Gary Vaynerchuk. I reached out to him a bunch of times, and no response. Then one day I got one: ‘Let’s meet for 15 min in London.’ I flew from Stockholm to meet him in London, and we said we’d do something together. I flew back to Stockholm, and graduated high school in 2016. I moved to NYC one month later to do social growth and strategy for Gary.”
Where do you see social media headed in the next 5 years?
“Way more people are adapting to it. More access to stars. For current traditional media stars to stay relevant, the majority of them will be giving way more access and insight to their life through our platforms. A prime example is Will Smith. He’s arguably one of the most famous actors in the world, and he recently started a vlog. He literally has someone filming him, editing the thing, and uploading it on social. That’s the new wave. KD too – he started a YouTube channel, and now he has 500,000 followers. Listen, this is a huge whitespace. The most subscribed NBA player is Jeremy Lin. He has 600,000 followers. Then KD at 500K. Then Nate Robinson at 150K. What!? Listen to how ridiculous that sounds. The third most subscribed NBA person on YouTube doesn’t even play in the NBA anymore.
That’s where I see social media heading. It doesn’t mean people have to film their lives and share every intricate detail, but there is no reason LeBron (James) shouldn’t have started a wine show already. Literally zero. Even non-superduperstarsmegaultrafamous players like Trevor Booker should have a channel. That dude loves cereal. He should be reviewing cereal – I would f*cking love to see that. Can you imagine an NBA player, getting buckets and then later passionately reviewing cereal? Straight GOLD.”
What is the most-liked @dunk post of all time?
“I just posted one last week actually. That sh*t popped off. Got 200,000 likes and 20,000 comments. All organic. I told people I’d be randomly messaging people who interacted with the post and then left a comment. The Dunk community is insane. Love them.”
Any advice for those who want to build a following like yours?
“Content: Create good content. Something people actually want to view.
Collaboration: Collaborate with bigger accounts and get them to follow you.
Consistency: Don’t give up after 2 weeks. Have a consistent posting schedule.
Community: Give back. If you have 100 people following you or engaging with your community, please give back. Respond to them. Ask them further questions, create an emotional connection with them. Respond to your DMs. All that stuff. Actually care about them.
…And, if you don’t have a community, you can go to other people who DO, and start engaging with their fanpage/fanbase. Basically try to provide as much insight/value/help to that community as possible and then extract them to yours.”
In your opinion, who’s the most underrated dunker of all time?
“Shawn Kemp or ‘Nique (Wilkins). The kids don’t know about them.”
What’s your favorite IG account (besides @dunk)?
“@Eliot. Awesome dude. Handsome too.”
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
“I’ll be 30. Damn.”
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