How NBA Teams Use Social Media to Help Market Themselves

Updated: Jan 13, 2021

Author: Nick Butera


NBA
NBA Social Media Tips

As time has gone on, there has been a shift in the way that the NBA has done their marketing. Legendary Celtics broadcaster Mike Gorman said it perfectly in a recent interview with Toucher & Rich, a local sports talk radio show, when he said “it’s more about the name on the back of the jersey instead of the name on the front of the jersey”. Instead of marketing the teams, such as the Celtics or the Lakers, the NBA has shifted to marketing the superstars that play in the league. With the growth of social media, these superstars have gotten even more exposure, with many of them using all these vehicles to grow their own personal brand. Superstars such as LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Stephen Curry have all used social media to help them become not only become larger than life figures, but also allows them to interact with their fanbase. With the growth of social media, the name on the front of the jersey (the team) can also use social media as a tool to do some really awesome things to help promote these superstars. One time of the year where this activity is ramped up is during the voting period for the NBA All Star Game.


What were the campaigns?

During the voting period, teams begin to run campaigns on their social media accounts, hopefully leading fans to vote for their favorite players. This is especially useful for teams playing in small markets, such as the Indiana Pacers. Even though their star center Domantas Sabonis had been leading a banged-up Pacers team to a good record while averaging a double-double, many people have not been exposed to him. Once the fan voting period began, the Indiana Pacers began running campaigns like the one above, showing highlights, statistics, and other information along with a link in the bio sending fans directly to NBA.com to vote. This campaign was a huge success for Domantas Sabonis and the Pacers, placing him in 8th place earning 564,027 fan votes. This led to the NBA announcing that Domantas Sabonis would play in his first All Star Game as a reserve.


While the small market teams used social media as a way of exposure for the relatively unknown superstars, many large market teams use social media somewhat of a reminder. Teams like the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Philadelphia 76ers have players on their roster that have already built their brand and have gotten a large amount of exposure to the NBA fanbase. Instead, of trying to get the name of their players out, these larger market teams remind their fans how good these athletes are, and make sure to tag these athletes, connecting the personal brand with the brand of the team. Once the voting period began for the All-Star Game began, the Boston Celtics also began to release photos with Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Marcus Smart in order to get them voted into the game. Not only did they release the photos like the ones above, they also posted individual videos of players and their statistics with a clickable link leading fans to NBA.com. This campaign was also a success for the Boston Celtics. While Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum were ultimately the two players to get named to the all star team, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and even Tacko Fall were all in the top 10 for fan votes.



Why was social media essential for this campaign?

Social media was essential for this campaign because many Celtics fans check Instagram daily. This marketing campaign was very successful because teams like the Boston Celtics continued to remind fans to vote for these players, even providing them with a clickable link. Since the Celtics scheduled daily posts with a call-to-action, fans were not only reminded daily to vote for the Celtics players, but they were also able to do the voting daily. Without this campaign on social media, fans would have to go search for the voting site which isn’t ideal. While the teams highlighted their campaigns mostly on their Instagram page, they also used Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook and even TikTok to advertise at times. This is a great idea because they were able to hit all age groups through different mediums. For example, an older generation might not be on Instagram but instead, they are on Facebook. While they will not be as heavily exposed as Instagram followers, there will be some exposure for this campaign.

For more great interviews from the Toucher & Rich radio program, along with other great radio programming make sure to listen to them where ever you access your podcasts or from the 98.5 Sports Hub website. To see some more of the great marketing campaigns that the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers run, make sure to follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat!

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