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Social Media Critique for the National Basketball Association

John Rous

MKTG 4792 Mrs. Williams

September 15, 2017


Social Media Critique for the National Basketball Association

The National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA, is one of the most

popular sports organizations across North America and is commonly considered to be the best

mens professional basketball league in the world. Its appeal is so strong that there are followers

of the NBA from many different countries, such as Brazil, France, India, the Philippines, Turkey,

and the United Kingdom (Jessop, 2012). The NBA consists of thirty teams in the league, twenty-

nine in the United States and one in Canada. This star-driven league, with superstars, such as

LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry playing in the league, and former legends of

Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille ONeal gives the NBA a lot of exposure on

television and social media. In February 2016, the NBA became the first professional sports

league to pass one billion social media likes and followers across all league, team, and player

accounts (Anzilotti, 2016). This is because the NBAs focus on social media is to allow the fans,

teams, and players to have a voice and share their thoughts and opinions. The leagues social

media accounts respond to social issues in the communities, which creates more conversations

and shares between the accounts and the audience. Social media is important to them because of

this platform connecting fans to the players. Many other professional sports use social media for

similar issues, but the NBA has a much younger audience with forty-five percent of fans under

the age of thirty-five (Anzilotti, 2016). As more fans create social media accounts, the NBA is

able to connect to a much larger audience across the numerous social media sites.

Since the creation of the various social media platforms, the NBA has done its part in

creating an account on most of them. Currently, you can find the NBA on Facebook, Twitter,

YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. All of their handles are

consistent in using @NBA. This allows them to be easily found and verified so that the
audience and followers know how to connect with the league on social media. The NBA is the

most popular sports league on social media with most of their followers coming from Facebook

(34.2 million), Twitter (26.4 million), and Instagram (24.7 million). Even though the NBA does

have a Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn account, the accounts are not actively monitored and

used. Posts that are made across those sites are very minimal and are done once every couple of

months.

NBA Social Media Posts Per Day


60

50 48
Daily Average Number of Posts

40

30

20
14

10 6
3 4

0
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat
34.2 Million 26.4 Million 24.7 Million 7.9 Million N/A

Social Media Site

All the accounts are managed by the Digital Media team, who also work with NBA Digital,

which is a joint venture between the NBA and Turner Sports. The team provides updates to their

websites and social media accounts for the NBA, WNBA, NBA G League, and all the teams

within the leagues (NBA, n.d.). Each team is responsible for its own social media efforts. The

league then has its own staff working on strategy, overseeing the NBA social media accounts and

attending select games and events. They work to provide and develop strategies for distributing
content and information to the global regional offices and partners. The league monitors relevant

trends, and NBA social media personnel shoot off explanatory emails to its staff (Burns Ortiz,

2011). Through the Digital Media teams tireless effort to establish a strong presence on social

media, the NBA was able to set new records for the 2016-17 season in impressions (42.6 billion,

up by 40 percent) and video views (8.2 billion, up by 96 percent). They also saw a twenty-seven

percent increase in followers over all their social media accounts since the end of the 2015-16

basketball season (NBA Communications, Apr. 2017). The NBAs use of social media is unique

in that it has a lot of player and team interactions, as well as the sharing and posting of content

from the WNBA and the NBA G League. For example, the WNBA playoffs go on during the

months of September and October. During this time, the NBAs social media accounts are

sharing and promoting the WNBA teams competing for the championship. The NBAs overall

goal is to increase traffic across all their social media sites and encourage interactivity between

the league, organizations, and its fans.

The NBA reaches its goal of encouraging interactivity between the league and its fans by

creating polls in which fans vote, asking questions of their followers, and allowing you to share

the content they post while using official hashtags. The posts across the platforms are relatively

the same content, except for Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, there is a much older

generation following their account. They post an average of fourteen posts per day with

information regarding games, trades, and current events going on in the league. On Twitter, you

see much more fan and follower interaction. With an average of forty-eight posts per day, the

account is sharing information, interacting with other teams, and posting videos of interviews

and highlights from the games. For the 2016-17 season, the NBA offered a unique way for fans

to interact with league on Twitter. Fans could vote for their favorite player to become an All-Star
and participate in the All-Star game by tweeting, retweeting, or replying with an NBA players

first and last name or Twitter handle, using the hashtag #NBAVOTE. Fans were allowed to vote

for ten different players each day throughout the voting process. Instagram, YouTube, and

Snapchat are used similarly with the postings of videos of and from the players, and about

interviews and highlights that happened. Pinterest is also used by the NBA, but in a different

concept than Twitter and Facebook (NBA Communications, Jan. 2017). The leagues Pinterest

account only has about 34,000 followers, but they post and pin items that are typically for sale. If

you like something and click it, it will direct you to the NBAStore.com where you can purchase

the items. They post on their Pinterest rarely, but the activity tends to spike around the holiday

seasons, when gift purchasing is at its highest. LinkedIn and Tumblr are also hardly ever used.

LinkedIn posts consist of the NBA and players being active in the communities and when job

openings are listed. Tumblr, on the other hand, is used to post pictures of NBA history and what

the picture is about. While the NBA has a strong presence on social media, there are a few things

the league can do to increase their followers and gain more fans.

When looking at the NBAs situation analysis, there are many strengths the league

possesses, but there are also weaknesses that can turn into opportunities. Some strengths are the

number of followers they have over all their social media sites, most of their fans and followers

are a lot younger than fans of other sports, there are a lot of superstars that play or have played in

the league, and there is good broadcasting and a strong presence across the world. Some

weaknesses are that, even though there is a strong global fan base, some European and Asian

markets have yet to be tapped in. It is also expensive to go to a game or to purchase NBA TV to

watch at home or on your laptop. This creates many opportunities for the NBA and their social

media sites to strengthen their marketing and brand name. One thing that the NBA could do is
stream one game per week through either Twitter or Facebook. They can stream these games

globally in the countries following the NBA and across the United States.

In January of 2016, the NBA streamed its first ever game online through Facebook. The

problem is that the stream was only available in India (Kharpal, 2016). This is a new trend that

the National Football League started in 2016 by streaming the Thursday night football game on

Twitter. There are on average 50 NBA games played per week, so there is more of an

opportunity to stream one or two games per week through Facebook and Twitter. Not only will it

increase the traffic over its social media sites, but it will also allow for fans to stay involved and

watch the game if they are unable to make it to a television set. In September 2016, a total

number of 2.1 million people tuned in to watch the first live streamed NFL Thursday night

football game on Twitter (Garcia, 2016). The games were played alongside a series of live tweets

from accounts watching the game. To get involved in the conversations, there was a place to type

your own tweets, to which Twitter automatically added the hashtag, #TNF, allowing users to stay

connected. The 2017 NBA Finals saw their highest ratings since 1998, when Michael Jordan was

playing. ABC averaged around 20.4 million viewers each game over the five-game series

(Brown, 2017). This is a fantastic opportunity for the NBA to expand its presence online and

globally.

Another opportunity the league can look at is creating more of presence on Pinterest,

Tumblr, LinkedIn, and posting more on Snapchat and Instagram. On Pinterest, the league can

post pins regularly with updated jerseys, clothes, and other NBA gear for sale. This could not

only generate more revenue, but having an active account will allow the NBA to have more

followers and receive more shares. The same thing goes with LinkedIn. Since that is more of a

site for business professionals, the NBA can share valuable information regarding statistics,
ratings, and league information that can be shared across their homepage. Even though the NBA

has millions of followers on their Instagram page and post frequently, they can utilize this social

media platform along with Snapchat and Tumblr to create more engaging posts. This goes into

the next thing the NBA can do, which is allows players to take over league accounts and use

their superstar likability to make fans feel more connected to the sport.

Superstars, such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant, have millions of

likes and followers on their personal accounts. LeBron James is considered the best basketball

player in the world and he has 32.6 million followers on Instagram, 38.3 million followers on

Twitter, and over 22 million likes on Facebook. That is seven million more total likes and

followers than the league account has over those three platforms. Using him or other players to

takeover the league accounts for a day would allow for more traffic through the sites. For

example, LeBron could host an Instagram or live video and answer questions from fans. You

could also have him post on Tumblr with a personal picture and caption of a memory he had

from his time in the NBA. This would get more fans to follow the different accounts and allow

the league to have a larger presence over the different sites.

With over 92 million likes and followers and an average of seventy posts per day on the

NBAs Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube sites, the league has a powerful voice in

sharing and receiving information about what is happening in the NBA. It is very easy to stay

connected with the NBA by following their universal social media handle, @NBA. Through the

help of Digital Media team, the NBA, and Turner Sports, the league is able to reach its goal of

increasing traffic across all their social media sites and encourage interactivity between the

league, organizations, and its fans. They reach this goal by being active on social media and

posting content directed towards their younger audience. In order to reach more audience
members and improve their social media efforts, the league must become more active on

Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. This will allow fans to stay connected no matter what social

media site they are on and will allow the NBA to stay relevant throughout all of the platforms.

The NBA should also look into using the likeness of their players and partnering with Facebook

and Twitter to allow live streaming of games throughout the regular season. If the NBA were to

do this, they would get more fans, higher ratings, and become the top sport in the world.
References

Anzilotti, E. (2016, June 19). How the NBA's Progressivism Is Helping It Thrive. Retrieved from
https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/nba-progressivism/487610/
Brown, M. (2017, July 14). How TV Actually Lost The NBA Postseason, Even With Ratings Up
For Finals. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/maurybrown/2017/06/14/how-tv-
actually-lost-the-nba-postseason-even-with-ratings-up-for-finals/#607b2e2860dd
Burns Ortiz, M. (2011, April 25). The NBAs social media explosion. Retrieved
http://www.espn.com/espn/page2/story/_/page/burnsortiz%2F110425_nba_social_media/sportCa
t/nba
Garcia, A. (2016, September 16). The ratings are in for Twitters NFL stream. Retrieved from
http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/16/technology/nfl-twitter-ratings-livestream/index.html
Jessop, A. (2012, June 18). Top-Five Countries Following The NBA On Facebook And Twitter.
Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2012/06/18/top-five-countries-
following-the-nba-on-facebook-and-twitter/2/#3780b9504e49
Kharpal, A. (2016, July 20). Twitter inked a deal with the NBA to livestream exclusive content.
Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/07/20/twitter-inked-a-deal-with-the-nba-to-
livestream-exclusive-content.html
NBA. (n.d.). Career Opportunities - Departments. Retrieved from
http://careers.nba.com/departments/
NBA Communications. (2017, January 5). Cavs James, Irving lead first fan returns of NBA All-
Star Voting 2017 presented by Verizon. Retrieved from http://pr.nba.com/nba-all-star-2017-first-
voting-returns/
NBA Communications. (2017, April 13). NBA breaks all-time attendance record with 22 million
fans. Retrieved from http://pr.nba.com/nba-attendance-record-2016-17/