While print journalists and television broadcasters sit on the sidelines and anxiously await tip off throughout this past year’s NBA season, the company’s social media team is employing a sophisticated plan to keep its followers engaged.
As a guard for the Miami Heat, Dwyane Wade was warming up by shooting long range jumpers when someone held up his iPhone from the sidelines and took a 57 second video and then tweeted it from @NBA: “#NBAFinals: Dwyane Wade is putting shots up by himself on the floor right now. Game 2, 9pm/et ABC. http://www.twitvid.com/MJQS5“.
The NBA social media team calls this a “tune-in”, reminding fans to do just that. This lone tweet was retreated by more than 100 people, including one person who responded “@NBA TUNING IN!”. With over 117 million followers combined on Twitter and Facebook, we expect he wasn’t the only one.
So, how does this social media team play a successful game? Jason Feifer of FastCompany.com spent some time with them to find out.
1. Make fans feel like insiders
Joining Twitter in 2009, the NBA polls its fans twice a season to ensure they are getting the content they want and operates like a small news organization. On the court photos and video, as well as some from the crowd. “We want to give people a sense that they’re here,” said one of @NBA’s tweeters.
2. Don’t join the conversation. Create the conversation.
With a lot of negative trending topics being a big part of fan chatter, the NBA’s social media team has opted to only engage fans in conversations that the NBA starts. ” Our objective is to engage basketball fans globally on a digital conversation,” says Melissa Brenner, NBA VP of marketing.
3. Know what your readers want, when they want it
The NBA collects data on how its social media is received, and adjusts it accordingly. For example, assuming that fans would appreciate “tune-in” reminders a few hours before games, @NBA began tweeting their fans. However polls indicated that fans actually plan their evening TV viewing much earlier in the day.
4. Don’t overwhelm your followers
Using third party software to space out your social media messaging and schedule updates via a formula or plan is effective without being annoying. “Twitter’s a right-now kind of platform. You tweet, and then it gets buried and disappears,” said one of @NBA’s social media people. “Things stick around longer on Facebook, so you don’t want to flood it as much.”
5. Plan ahead, because not every day has a big game
Having content that you aren’t necessarily using right away – maybe because you don’t want to overwhelm your followers, maybe it’s the wrong time, maybe it’s the wrong message – isn’t such a bad thing.