July 4, 2013

And the NBA’s 2013 Social Media Champions Are…

Let’s say it bluntly shall we: the Los Angeles Lakers had a horrible 2012-13 season. Their ‘big five’ starting lineup of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard never figured out a way to gel together, they fired a bad coach and hired another bad one, they were unforgivably cursed by injuries all year, finished a disappointing eighth in the West, and were swept in four games in the First Round of the playoffs.

And yet, despite the tragic times, the popularity of one of the NBA’s most successful and famous franchises of All Time never wavered. A simple eye-test of the number of Laker jerseys or die-hard Kobe fans or the team’s outreach into popular culture confirms that, but now we also have some real statistical confirmation of their social media influence. While the team itself wasn’t good enough to finish better than eighth in the West, they continued to dominate social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and were (once again) the NBA Champions.

A few weeks ago, Unmetric, a company that tells global brands how they stack up against competition on social media, released its second annual NBA Social Media Playoffs Report which details the social media efforts of all 30 NBA teams participating in the 2013 season to observe the impact of social media presence and to compare results from the 2012 season. For the season, Unmetric gave each NBA franchise a score based on a blend of quantitative and qualitative metrics, weighted and averaged by sector to produce a single number ranging from 0 to 100 for each social network – one score for Facebook and one for Twitter. These scores, the Unmetric Scores, were based on metrics such as content strategy, engagement, growth, timing and frequency of tweets and posts on Twitter and Facebook.

The Lakers had the highest score (out of 200) in the NBA of 120. The Miami Heat – 2012-13’s actual NBA champions – finished second in the Unmetric ladder with 110. The Chicago Bulls came in third, followed by the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Here are some more interesting facts about the NBA teams’ Facebook/Twitter activity from the Unmetric report:

- The Lakers have the most Twitter followers in the NBA (3,067,125).

- The Lakers also have the most Facebook fans (16,271,154)

- The Nets were the fastest-growing team on Facebook, and the Raptors on Twitter.

- The Bucks had the most tweets during the course of the season (8,518).

- The Grizzlies had the highest number of admin posts on their official Facebook page (2,113), and also had the fastest average reply time on Facebook.

- The Pistons had the fastest average reply time on Twitter.

- Miami Heat were given the ‘engagement’ crown, as the team most engaged in giving their fans updates on latest schedules, scores, articles, and videos on Facebook. Meanwhile, Miami superstar LeBron James’ old haunt – the Cleveland Cavaliers – finished dead last when it came to engaging with their Facebook fans.

Unmetric did some other interesting research, going beyond just the quantity of content provided by the teams to discover what type of content got fans most involved. The most popular categories for the top 10 teams included content about the players, game schedule, game results, questions to their fans, and score updates.

Lakers have the most Twitter followers in the NBA. The Heat, the Magic (surprising!), Celtics, and Bulls round up the top five. Lakers also have the most Facebook fans, followed by Bulls, Heat, Celtics, and Knicks.

Nice to know that the Lakers are still ‘winning’ something, although another poor season could definitely see the Heat closing the gap on them next year. Miami are NBA champions in the basketball sense of the definition, and the definition that ultimately matters, and their recent success has also made them one the most popular and engaging teams in the league in recent years.

Overall, the NBA is one of the most engaged and active brands when it comes to social media. They rank top amongst all sports brands in Twitter followers and third (behind Manchester United and Barcelona) in Facebook ‘likes’.

All stats and graphic provided via Unmetric – thanks particularly to Vikas Bysani for his help.

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