The much anticipated 2012 NBA Finals is set to tip-off tonight featuring not only the Heat versus Thunder, but also LeBron James versus Kevin Durant.  While the hype for this year’s Finals continues to build, it is important to understand the role that social media plays in this.  Kenneth Wisnefski announces the following in regards to social media usage in the NBA Finals.

Social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter have been building momentum for the Finals with more fans and athletes moving the conversation online.  The NBA has suffered a drop in viewership over the past few years as the likes of the NFL, MLB, and even NASCAR have continued to accumulate additional fans.  Consider these statistics:

The NBA Facebook fan page has over 13 million “likes” which is significantly more than the NFL (5.6 million), NHL (2.4 million), and NFL (1.3 million), combined.

The NBA has announced they will be posting “behind the scenes” photos and videos which will cultivate this audience and draw more traffic toward watching the games.

The hype is already reaching its peak since the Finals features two superstars in LeBron James and Kevin Durant.  The NBA, which has over 5.3 mi

llion followers on Twitter, has been tweeting throughout the day as this is a move to continue to bring viewers to the TV tonight.

Twitter amassed its most tweets per second (10,200) for a major sporting event in February 2012 when the New York Giants won Super Bowl 46.  It is within reason to expect the NBA Finals to break this record in large part due to the battle between James and Durant.

Social media has tremendous potential to brands, we know this. But gaining increased exposure for a brand through purposeful engagement with their audience is a skill requiring a number of elements, among them a viable strategy, and is worth a closer look through the actions of a large social player, the NBA. The league has a powerful social media presence as it is with 260 million Facebook likes and Twitter followers spread around all the player, team, and league accounts – and they have significantly ramped it up for this year’s playoffs and their efforts provide a great global example.

Tumblr & Pinterest
As reported in a piece on Mashable, the NBA has launched Tumblr and Pinterest accounts and are running a campaignthrough their Twitter presence. Marketers for the league are looking at these two additional platforms to take advantage of their visual focus and ease-of-use for photo-sharing. Specifically for the tumblr account, NBA marketers will be displaying pictures depicting classic moments in NBA playoff history profiling famous match-ups and moments.

For Pinterest, they have two goals. First, they will promote retro and throwback team clothing linking it to their e-commerce store to drive more business in that regard. Pinterest is ideal for showing off product visual being able to create boards and pin interesting looks and combinations of the clothing. Secondly, they want to profile interesting “characters” that are in the NBA, looking at quirky styling, haircuts, and other elements.

Twitter Campaign
With the global reach of the NBA brand, marketers for the league are looking to engage fans from around the globe in their “Hoops Around the World” campaign. This effort spurs fans to document the places that they both play and watch basketball. They are pushing fans to tweet photos of where they shoot hoops locally capturing the actual baskets and where they watch their NBA games – mentioning @NBA and #hoops. According to Mashable, the NBA will retweet the ones they like the best and compile a world map of all photos before the culmination of the season with The Finals. If the NBA really wanted to push it they could engage fans on the social platforms of local markets, but I’m sure their reasoning in part is that they wanted to keep it unified.

Takeaway
Businesses can use this as an example per individual company characteristics and goals. WebiMax and other strong internet marketing and SEO companies help businesses to outline their marketing goals and strategy for social media campaigns and one of the primary factors with the new platforms in Tumblr and Pinterest is whether or not your company has visual relevance. Most all companies do, but it is a matter of how businesses can post images that relate to them and their operations in an interesting way to engage with them. The subject matter of the photos all must be interesting whether images taken by the company or shots of charts and infographics, facility or office pictures, and even pictures of relevant happenings in the industry.

For information on leveraging social media especially with an international audience, reach out to me directly at rbuddenhagen@webimax.com or @ryanwbudd.