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NBA Playoffs Go Social

nba-social-media-awards-durant-kobe-lin-win-big-11247d0bc2There are more than 200 million people who follow the NBA, an NBA team, or an NBA player on social media.

That’s more than Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and surprisingly for some, the National Football League. In fact, LeBron James, who leads all active NBA players with 22 million followers, has a bigger audience than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow and Aaron Rodgers … combined.

With that in mind, the NBA Playoffs are the most critical time of the year for the league to activate on social media. According to Bluefin Labs, which was recently acquired by Twitter, the 2012 NBA Finals saw nearly 20 million comments on social platforms. Some games during the 2012-13 NBA regular season, met and exceeded those numbers on a single game basis.

Here’s a look at how the league, teams and broadcast partners are using the increased exposure to market to fans on digital platforms.

nba-big-300x300The NBA goes BIG

The NBA ditched ‘Where Amazing Happens’ for ‘BIG’ following the 2011 NBA lockout and the word is prominently featured throughout its social media messaging. The league has created some compelling ‘BIG’ videos, including this holiday classic used to promote jerseys worn on Christmas Day, and some ‘BIG’ graphics, which encourage fans to ‘Like’ ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’ their playoff predictions with their friends.

While many will gawk that the league has 16+ million ‘Likes’ on Facebook on its own, the NBA’sYouTube content, with nearly four million subscribers, creates a secondary, online component to its TV network.

tumblr_mm787owv7H1qf850bo1_1280Everyone Can Be Warriors

The Golden State Warriors are making their playoff slogan, #WeAreWarriors, rather fruitful for those who are active in the social space. In addition to digital scavenger hunts, fans that check into Oracle Arena for select playoff games receive free rally towels. Those attending games in Oakland also receive free tee-shirts, creating a ‘gold out’ environment during games.

The day after the Warriors won their first playoff series since 2007, the official Team Store posted a special deal on social media, offering free car flags to anyone who bought $50 or more in playoff merchandise. Merchandise that isn’t easy to move once a team has been eliminated.

white_hot_lebron.0_standard_352.0White Hot Heat

“White Hot” has been the Miami Heat’s playoff rallying cry since 2006, the year in which the team won its first NBA title. Fans are encouraged to wear white to American Airlines Center, matching what the team wears on the floor.

On the team’s social media feeds, the Heat stick with the ‘White Hot’ theme. All of the creative is white and black, with very limited use of color. The club’s profile photo is also a very simple black and white sketch of their primary logo.

Fans who use the hashtag #WhiteHotHeatFan when uploading their photo to Instagram can also be featured on the team’s website. The page is sponsored by Adidas.

tumblr_mcxvcluMHA1r5lu31o1_1280#KnicksTape

The Knicks Tape (rhymes with Mix-Tape) is designed to represent the vast melting pot of players under head coach Mike Woodson. It also happens to work for the city of New York, a diverse centerpiece of cultures all assembled in one place.

“You’ve got the club song. You’ve got the sophisticated song. You’ve got the brand new song,” said founder and Knicks player Iman Shumpert told MSG. “We have a similar collection of personalities on this team.”

The business side of the organization has run with Shumpert’s tagline, using #knickstape as an opportunity for fan photos to be featured on the Madison Square Garden scoreboard during games.

tnt-eInside The NBA

Content is king in the world of social media and nobody is better at producing that content than the folks at Turner Sports. The EMMY Award winning “Inside The NBA” studio show features a cast of characters, including Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, that are known for gags, gimmicks and great basketball analysis.

After all, you have to be funny if Saturday Night Live is spoofing you on a regular basis.

If fans aren’t talking about what sideline reporter Craig Sager is wearing, like this dedicated fan made Tumblr – http://craigsagerssuits.tumblr.com, they’ll pay attention to Sir Charles. The former NBA legend has 47,000 YouTube results when you search ‘Charles Barkley TNT’, with many of those hitting the six-figure plateau for views.

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