Brand in Focus – the NBA

The NBA logo, aka Jerry West via the NBA’s Twitter page

The NBA logo, aka Jerry West via the NBA’s Twitter page

With the NBA Draft this past Thursday night and my Minnesota Timberwolves owning the first pick of the draft (Karl-Anthony Towns), this feels like the right time to put NBA branding in focus!  The NBA’s branding efforts across social media have driven a nice niche for the sport, most specifically on Twitter and Vine.  Let’s dive right into it and start with the NBA’s own web site.

NBA.com ... please clean this up

NBA.com … please clean this up

For a company that does well for itself on social media, I don’t understand why the NBA’s web site always feels so cluttered and confusing.  The screenshot above was taken less than two days ahead of the NBA Draft and it is just a mess.  You have ads on the sides – which drives me bonkers across the web – and not enough focus on the one event that is in the immediate future.  I’ll save you the trouble of what scrolling down on NBA.com looks like – links everywhere, columns and rows that don’t blend nicely.

The one other item that I noticed is that the NBA has the Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ counts on the top of their page, but to find all of their social media pages, you have to drag your mouse over the “More” link towards the top right and a pop up of social media sites is provided there.

Let’s move on … quickly … to where the NBA is doing solid work and driving real engagement with its fans.

Twitter:

With 15.5 million followers on Twitter, the NBA is doing a tremendous job of promoting its brand on the network.  The NBA passes along news from around the league, RT’s pertinent information from team pages, NBA players, and finally, sister Twitter feeds that have been set up over the time – @NBAHistory, @NBADraft, @NBATV and more.  A generic search on Twitter for “NBA” gave me a compilation of all of these elements:

NBA on Twitter

The league has truly embraced Twitter and has somewhat “forced” its TV partners to follow suit.  My personal Twitter feed is full of NBA news and notes from around the league no matter what time of day or night it is.  The NBA received 100’s of RT’s and Favorites when it posts its own content and is directing followers to many other pages as well with its RT efforts.

The efforts by the league’s Twitter team has also done a fine job of carrying over engagement with fans on Twitter’s Vine platform …

Vine:

With 1.1+ million followers on Vine, the NBA is blowing other US professional sports leagues out of the water on the micro-video network.  I don’t think anyone can argue that the NFL is the #1 professional sport in the US right now and they only have 350K+ followers, while MLB has over 330K.  Essentially, the NBA has three times as many followers on Vine vs. the two leading professional sports here in the US.

Need more proof on the NBA’s branding efforts on Vine, well, I actually wrote about this a few months ago – click here.

Facebook:

27 million plus fans have Liked the NBA’s Facebook page and the engagement coming from these fans is immense.  While I see a lot of duplicative effort and cross-posting between Twitter and Facebook, the NBA typically receives thousands of likes and hundreds of shares on each Facebook post.  Note that this isn’t a once a day posting either, there are a handful of posts typically coming on a daily basis from the league to their fans.

I did notice one area of improvement to recommend … it looks like the page owner’s gave up on the milestone dates after 2011 per the screenshot below.  Please, fill this in!  I truly enjoy the history lesson that brands provide when they fill this in and maintain it adequately.  The NBA does a nice job of referencing championship teams in the timeline, but also major milestones in league history.

NBA on Facebook

Instagram:

While winning on the three prior social networks referenced above, the NBA seems to have some work to do if it is going to maintain a presence on Instagram.  With the deep following on Facebook, it would make a lot of sense for the league to consider going deeper on Instagram over its time and energy on Pinterest (see below).

The NBA has 8+ million followers on Instagram and the landing page screams “Help!”.  I’m not a big fan of how bland the landing page here is.  I have really enjoyed seeing brands create a banner that rotates images on the landing page and what you see below is a pretty basic, white landing page.

NBA on Instagram

That said, the NBA is clearly embracing the video features on Instagram, uploading a number of videos for the NBA Draft throughout the days prior, as well as snippets from the NBA Finals that just wrapped up a few weeks ago.

While I believe the league’s page could be cleaned up a bit, you can’t argue with the results, as most uploads are receiving hundreds of thousands of likes and hundreds of comments.

Pinterest:

Relative to other social media platforms, the NBA ‘struggles’ to build a highly engaged audience on Pinterest.  The league has slightly over 13K followers on the platform, well behind its other pages and networks.

However, I do like what the league has done on Pinterest and it might be better suited taking this style and approach over to Instagram.  If the NBA were to take the “off the court” approach that it uses on various boards and board covers on Pinterest over to Instagram, I think it could be a real winning formula.

NBA on Pinterest

Overall Summary:

The NBA is clearly doing a lot of good across social media.  However, there are a few, small tweaks worth considering in their digital marketing efforts to help build a strong brand image with (potential) fans.

Positives:

  • They have really built a nice niche on Vine
  • Consistent content is being sent to their followers on a daily basis
  • Driving engagement with fans through the use of images and video

Improvement Areas:

  • Pay attention to the details and nuances of each page – for example, keeping the milestones up to date on Twitter
  • Leverage its Pinterest approach on Instagram and maybe even consider dropping Pinterest given how far behind the NBA’s following is relative to Instagram

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the NBA’s social media efforts?  Where would you like to see the NBA make improvements?  Let us know in the Comments section below.

 

Pin of the Month – Google Glass at the NBA Draft

Credit: Carrot

Credit: Carrot

July’s Pin of the Month takes a look (pun intended) at Google Glass at the NBA Draft.  On June 27th, the NBA Draft was held at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.  The second pick in the draft was Victor Oladipo out of the University of Indiana.  What made this of particular interest for this blog, beyond my enjoyment of the NBA, is that Oladipo wore Google Glass for the day and leading up to the final minutes before being drafted.

So how are we going to spin this into a branding or digital marketing-related topic you ask?  The answer is “very easily”. [Read more…]