Basketball is bigger than ever, and the teams are creating original content to inspire fans across the social spheres. We dive into which teams are winning this sports marketing arms race.
Last time, we explored NBA’s biggest teams on Facebook Video for 2015. Here we’ll examine the most powerful content that each of the NBA teams produced this year, and the trends driving overall engagement.
As brands become publishers, the NBA is proving to be no exception. The teams have to become content factories, turning their games and updates into something fans will be impassioned by on social.
Using our database, we looked at all the NBA teams’ content on their domains from the past year and ranked them in terms of total Facebook engagement. To read more about our methodology, click here.
NBA Teams Most Engaging Website Content in 2015
Right away, what’s striking about this is that only five teams provide the 25 most-engaging posts on Facebook, and 92% of the top 25 comes from the Warriors, Lakers, and Spurs.
Even expanding our view, less than half the teams have content in the top 100 most-engaging posts on Facebook.
Let’s take a look at the trends driving these teams’ content hits.
Fans Love to Celebrate a New Hero
Our five largest content pieces across total Facebook engagement were about Golden State Warriors’ point guard Stephen Curry. It seems we love to have heroes, especially in sports.
Our top most-liked posts were all about Stephen Curry, with the winning content naming the athlete Kia NBA Western Conference Player of the Month this month. It’s his fourth career monthly honor. The article had over 76,000 likes, 2,800 shares, and 1,000 comments on Facebook.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/warriors/posts/10153855622512526″ bottom=”30″]
Curry was also a hit in our Facebook video roundup, and his social media dynamite extends to content even from other teams. The Lakers’ most engaging post on our roundup was originally headlined as, “Golden State’s Curry Makes Late Surge to Capture Top Vote-Getting Honors”, but has since changed to reference Kobe Bryant instead.
Anywhere Curry is mentioned, enormous Facebook engagement follows. In our rankings, the seven times he’s mentioned are all in the top 20 most-engaging Facebook posts. Breaking records left and right, Curry even said he’s striving to surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest NBA player ever.
People love to rally behind a rising star. And Curry, who is from basketball roots (his father and brother are both NBA players) and a phenomenal player, is a naturally likable champion.
Sweepstakes and Giveaways Drive Massive Engagement
Although the Boston Celtics hold the most championship wins for the NBA, they only appear once in the top hundred most-engaging posts on Facebook. Although not the highest in likes, the post was the top commented and shared post in our rankings.
The content was for a promotion to win premium tickets to the Celtics’ Opening Night, along with other prizes. It received over 6,500 shares and 7,300 comments on Facebook.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/bostonceltics/posts/10153623362282667″ bottom=”30″]
Sweepstakes are a great, interactive way to drive up engagement. We saw this with the Green Bay Packers and their top content in October. In our September ranking of brand publishers, ICICI bank’s popular giveaways also scored big engagement.
[bctt tweet=”Sports giveaways slam dunk on social! Fans want to meet their legends”]
The sweepstakes, which partnered with Mohegan Sun, also offered a photo opportunity and pre-game shoot with a Celtics legend, a dinner at the stadium, team gear, tickets to the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournaments, and accommodations at Mohegan Sun for a weekend.
Extreme fans crave any chance to get up close and personal with their team, especially that court-side time with one of the athletes. Giveaways are also are a great way to gain new fans and build hype—free stuff is compelling.
Fans Love to Say Goodbye to a Retiring Great
After the Steph Curry piece, the next top LA Lakers content was their game diary of the 12/2/15 game against the the Washington Wizards. Using Lakers’ reporter Mike Trudell’s tweets, the diaries provide a written play-by-play of the matchup.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/losangeleslakers/posts/10156344484720341″ bottom=”30″]
This write-up was surprisingly successful and the caption gives us a clue, stating Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to victory in his final game in D.C.
As we saw in our Facebook Video post, Kobe’s retirement announcement made a tremendous social media splash. The Lakers’ actual announcement post about his retirement was our fourth most-shared and third most-commented content. Other Lakers’ content in our rankings buzzed around Bryant as well, including sentiments from his teammates and Bryant’s declaration that he is “a Laker for life”.
The Lakers were also our team with the highest engagement on LinkedIn. Their deal for a new team headquarters in El Segundo, California, propelled comments and likes on the professional platform.
As we noted in our “Four LinkedIn Lessons From Six Months Of Exclusive Data” post, the content that drives the most engagement on LinkedIn has short headlines and concise content. The ideal length of a post according to Buffer is 25 words. LinkedIn is a professional network; users may be too busy to dive into lengthy diatribes.
Nostalgia and Throwbacks Never Fail
A substantial amount of the content hits were about teams setting NBA records or receiving honors. When we viewed these most-engaging content pieces on Pinterest, we also saw that this nostalgia-related content strategy works beyond Facebook too.
The top Facebook posts that performed well on Pinterest were ones that invoked a sense of sentimentality and history. The Chicago Bulls led on Pinterest with their gallery on Toni Kukoc’s basketball career through the years.
But lest we get too excited about the Bulls’ triumph here, let’s identify our other best Pinterest performer… no other than our overall engagement champions, the Golden States Warriors.
Their winning content also was driven by sentimental factors, including posts about the team making franchise history and the Warriors bringing back their 1966 season jerseys for some select games.
It certainly seems that the tactics that work on Facebook can be put into action on other platforms too.
Team Announcements Feed Fans’ Need to Know All
The San Antonio Spurs appear in our rankings with the sixth most-engaging content on Facebook. The piece announced the re-signing of Kawhi Leonard to the team. Half of Spurs’ content in our top 25 are about which players were re-signed.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/nbatv/posts/1016704198362153:0″ bottom=”30″]
As with Stephen Curry and Kobe Bryant, players create a personal connection for fans. Fans become attached to the faces that bring their team to victory. On the Spurs’ content that was shared by NBA TV, fans comment that Leonard is “the future of the Spurs franchise” and they “can’t imagine him on any other team”.
[bctt tweet=”Fan dedication to @NBA players is just as strong as their passion to the team”]
For fans who want to be experts, these team updates provide incentive to click-through. Offering transparency about changes and other important information builds fans’ trust that they know all there is to know about their team.
What’s for Us to Know
In the age of social media, fans expect an ever deeper level of engagement. With instant access through mobile and social, they crave more information than ever about their favorite teams and players.
Team champions like Kobe Bryant and Stephen Curry create a buzz that sparks tremendous social engagement. This buzz extends even outside of their team, as fans generally appreciate a star’s brilliance. The New York Times reported this year: “Stephen Curry’s Warriors Are 22-0, and Nets Fans Seem Perfectly Fine With That”.
[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/StephenCurryOfficial/videos/1095829697108604/” bottom=”30″]
Stephen Curry’s post on his Facebook page giving fans a chance to meet him had stellar social engagement.
Giving fans a chance to meet those heroes is also huge, as we saw with the level of engagement on the Boston Celtics sweepstakes. The Boston Celtics have the most NBA championships of any team.
Fans want to be a part of their team’s history. They like seeing records being broken, epic games that will never be repeated, legends in the making. Nostalgic pieces and throwbacks of their team’s past triumphs are also engaging.
[bctt tweet=”Dedicated @NBA fans crave any chance on social to be part of their team’s history-making moments”]
Another point to note—since we ranked by including Facebook likes, many could be impacted by the sheer size of the fan bases. For example, a Grizzlies post was our tenth most-shared content, a video feature of Marc Gasol. The Memphis Grizzlies have a far smaller fan base to like their content, only 1.6 million to the LA Lakers’ 21.2 million. Since shares are considered harder to earn, this engagement demonstrates the devotion of Grizzlies fans.
Recognizing that fan passion feeds engagement. The San Antonio Spurs’ had a thank you message to their fans that made it to the top 10 of our rankings.
With 51,600 likes, 1,900 shares and 1,200 comments, it’s easy to see that fans are happy to be acknowledged and feel part of the team effort. Recognizing fan passion is a key to building lasting engagement for NBA teams.
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