Over the next four weeks, I am going to write about the social media presence of the four major sports: the National Basketball Association, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball. Over the past year or so, each league has adopted social media in its own way, and each league has had varying degrees of success. I will grade each sport on its visibility across social media platforms, as well as content, fan engagement, and player involvement. This week, we’re talking basketball.
The NBA operates powerful accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the three largest social media platforms at this time. On Facebook, the NBA has nearly 1.7 million fans. On Twitter, they have over 1.5 million followers. And on YouTube, the league has just under 13 million channel views and 163,000 subscribers. The NBA gets high marks for operating well-known and well-trafficked accounts across these platforms. The reason I’m giving the league a ‘B’ and not an ‘A’ is because they have failed to utilize emerging platforms that can provide incredible value for them (e.g. Ustream.tv, DailyBooth). Imagine if the league embraced live video streaming. What if David Stern did weekly live Q&A’s with fans, or if season ticket holders could talk with their team’s owner once per month? With the massive potential of these lesser-known platforms, the NBA could do wonders.
Every day, the NBA posts content across all three of its social media accounts. On Facebook, the league posts everything from links to NBA.com articles, to videos (e.g. highlight reels, behind the scenes with the players), and photo albums. On Twitter, they post similar content, as well as in-game text updates. More importantly, the NBA @reply’s the accounts of its players and teams. By doing this, the NBA is promoting the use of social media within the league. Finally, the NBA posts videos on YouTube almost every day, including highlight dunks, passes, and shots, as well as top 10 plays of the day, week or month. So, by posting exciting content on a regular basis, the NBA gets an ‘A.’
Fan Interaction: F
One of the most important things for any brand (big or small, consumer or personal) to do on social media, is interact with fans and friends. Every day, thousands and thousands of basketball fans send Facebook and YouTube comments, public tweets, and direct messages to the NBA, but the league never responds. Last night, Jerry Rabosa wrote on the NBA’s Facebook fan page, “I LOVE THIS GAME.” And what did the NBA say? Nothing. Here the league had a chance to make the day of one of their fans just by saying thanks. Unfortunately for them, they missed out. The NBA fails at fan interaction.
Player Involvement: A-
For the simple fact that the world’s best Twitter user, @The_Real_Shaq, is an NBA player, they get an ‘A-‘ for player involvement. It also helps that a large number of the league’s stars are on Twitter and/or Facebook, including Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh. The NBA definitely encourages the players to use social media and promotes those who do. Once Kobe and Lebron get involved, it’s all over.
The NBA has really embraced social media. They operate powerful accounts on the relevant social networks. They provide engaging and exciting content to their fans on a daily basis. They openly promote the players and teams who have embraced social media on their own. However, the NBA can be doing more. If the league wants to be truly “amazing,” they should look into platforms such as Ustream, DailyBooth, and Tumblr, that are underused but have big upside. They also desperately need to interact with their fans. No excuses. My overall grade might seem harsh, especially because of the four major sports, they have consistently done the best job. They just aren’t pushing the envelope as much as they think they are.