Chad Ochocinco. Number 85. The football superstar has made as many headlines on the field for his skills as off the field for his antics. Ochocinco is an athlete for the digital age: a social media powerhouse who has racked up more than 1 million followers on Twitter and a half-million on Facebook. He often broadcasts live webcasts with fans through UStream, has worked with Rock Software on his own iPhone and iPad apps, and has even landed sponsorship deals from Motorola and Degree antiperspirant. And that’s not to mention his popular VH1 dating-reality show “The Ultimate Catch.”
We chatted with the Bengals’ wide-receiver through e-mail in between his practices at training camp. Ochocinco spoke to us about social media, Farmville, and his influence online for our Influence Project, which ends this Sunday.
Fast Company: Why did you get involved with Twitter? Why do you tweet?
Chad Ochocinco: It helps fans see the real me, and get the direct access to what I have. That’s why we launched the official Ocho Cinco News Network.
Now that you have 1 million+ followers, how are you planning on using that influence and widespread reach?
It didn’t matter if I had 10,000 or 1 million followers. I would still do the same thing. Nothing has changed–just more @ replies.
How many times do you tweet a day, and how do you decide what to tweet?
I tweet when my phone has juice. I tweet when the sun rises and sets because everything in between is interesting.
Do you want to just connect with fans or is there another reason for your use of social media?
I don’t know any reason but my fans. I love them, and them only.
Do you have any funny anecdotes from using online platforms?
Some of the Twitpics are hilarious. We were at the Target in Cincinnati and we posted pictures on Twitter of us messing around. The security guard soon kicked us out, but she later said that she follows me, and even retweeted my pics. It was too funny.
How did you get involved with iPhone and iPad apps with Rock Software?
I saw my teammate on an episode of [HBO’s] Hard Knocks showing off another app. So I hit him up in the locker room and asked. He didn’t want to at first, but obviously it turned out to be the right decision.
Why would you even want to launch your own apps?
I want to be on everything, including Motorola phones, iPads–I even want to see what we can build on my Facebook page. Let’s get rid of Farmville, damn it!
Some of Ochocinco’s best mobile moments: