Case Study #3: NBA on Facebook

  • The National Basketball Association (NBA) uses social media, and specifically its’ Facebook page, to try to grow its fan base and promote its product. Coming off of a lockout that resulted in missed games and general fan uneasiness, the NBA had a tough task to wrestle its fans back from a feisty National Hockey League that had been taking advantage of the lockout and exposure of being the only winter league going. Also, the NFL playoffs took much of the attention of the sports world so the NBA was being left on the back burner fo the casual fan.
  • The NBA used Facebook as one of its primary tools of reaching young fans, specifically teenagers and college aged kids who are plugged into Facebook. This season, the efforts on facebook have intensified. Each morning there is a YouTube of the previous nights top ten plays. Waking up to this allows a fanatic like myself to see a quick landscape of the nights events in a few minutes. Each dunk that was blown up on twitter or block that would be on Sportscenter would be featured in the video.
  • Many afternoons, the NBA page releases a list of games on the schedule for that night with another highlight, possibly the top play of the night or a player achieving a career record.
  • Another major point of emphasis on the NBA Facebook page is the upcoming All-Star weekend. The page has allowed the fans to follow the whole process, from links to the voting website, to revealing the starting players to updating injury replacements. They have been promoting the dunk contest with a series of highlights from each of the competitors. It has also included rookies and sophomores talking trash about tonight’s Rising Stars Challenge, trying to promote some of the newer players in the league.
  • Facebook is perfect for the NBA, which is trying to capitalize on today’s digitally driven world. Unlike Major League Baseball, the NBA does not pull down highlights off of YouTube for copyright purposes. Instead they embraced it, allowing a fan to see Blake Griffins latest takeoff on YouTube less then 10 minutes after the dunk. Facebook brings the NBA live contact with the fans that it desires, allowing them to pump its fans with constant video and information. This is part of what has driven Harvard undrafted guard Jeremy Lin into Tebow-like status, with constant coverage being the key element in both cases. The NBA loves using facebook to connect with its fans, as they try to solve the looming attendance issue as it is more difficult then ever to make the in-arena experience even close to as enjoyable as sitting at home with a 60 inch flatscreen (or 2, side by side) and an iPad at the ready. Using social media to build interest around star
    players drives ticket sales, as everyone is at the ticket gates when highlight stalwarts like the Heat, Clippers and Lakers come to town.
  • One major weakness of the page is I believe it has an opportunity to provide more links and connections to team websites and facebook pages. Many NBA fans do not care as much about the whole league as they do about the one team they root for or the player that went to their alma mater. The NBA has over 11 million accounts following this one page, and it is an opportunity to expand their market. Providing a section of team links or sponsors like Nike’s websites could only benefit all parties involved.
  •  The NBA page on Facebook has a lot of strengths, in my opinion. It helps the NBA achieve its goal of interacting with fans and promoting its products. Many posts get upwards of 2,000 “likes” and several hundred comments, meaning that the fans appreciate the content and are responding to it. The page has helped create better ratings as the NBA can alert its fans as to which games are on ESPN, TNT or NBATV each day. The site is updated and maintained regularly and is always up to date with highlights and information. It is a valuable tool that any NBA fan should take advantage of.

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