A Golden (State) Social Media Presence
The Golden State Warriors help lead the NBA in the social media frontier.
by Kyle Stack / @KyleStack
Each NBA team’s Media Day is viewed as the official christening of the new season, the time when new players are introduced, old ones are re-introduced and fans get revved up for the new campaign. However, not many NBA fans are familiar with Tweedia Day. That’s what the Golden State Warriors held for their social media journalists Sept. 27 as an expanded portion to their Media Day activities. It’s one way the Warriors have become one of the most innovative professional sports teams to market itself on social media platforms.
Originally the idea of the Warriors’ lead PR directors, Raymond Ridder and Dan Martinez, Tweedia Day was intended to provide full media access to bloggers, podcasters and others who cover the Warriors from a social media perspective. While it’s something that hasn’t been tried by other teams, the Warriors felt like it wasn’t as innovative an idea as others felt it was. It was simply part of a larger plan to develop the Warriors brand through social media. That much was communicated to SLAMonline during a phone conversation with Kyle Spencer, the Warriors’ Executive Director of Marketing who didn’t wish to be quoted, per team policy.
Over 150 social media journalists applied for Tweedia Day with 10 lucky ones gaining admittance. From there, they covered the event on their preferred platforms, many of which the Warriors are already apart of. It was the Warriors who, more than three years ago, became the first NBA team to produce its own YouTube channel. They also introduced a unique way to unveil a logo.
The “Warriors Draft Challenge” was held each weekday from May 20-31 earlier this year to unveil the team’s new logo and redesigned website. As the new “The City” logo was leaked by fans, the Warriors, run by Spencer, decided to take control and led an Easter Egg-like hunt with fans for the team’s full logo. Fans signed up on the team’s website and every day answered a question linked to the team’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Flickr account. Answer the question correctly and the fan received 1/9 more of the Warriors’ new logo than seen the previous day, assuming a question was answered correctly. Getting all nine questions correct revealed the full logo on the final day. The team gave away other prizes as part of the contest, and the entire campaign helped increase website traffic in May by 66 percent versus May 2009.
“It’s two things we want to accomplish,” Warriors president Robert Rowell said of the team’s social media marketing strategy. “We want to build our base of fans that want information. The second thing we want to do is to enhance our existing consumers’ experience with our brand and product by using the social media tools we use.”
One of those tools is Facebook, which Spencer used to team’s advantage during the preseason. Thinking of a way to use preseason games to help establish the Warriors’ Facebook presence, Spencer used the team’s e-mail database to to launch an e-mail campaign. In it, the team offered free tickets to its first two preseason games if fans “Liked” the team’s Facebook page. The Warriors brought back the campaign for the final preseason match. It’s hard to argue with the campaign’s success as the Warriors gained 15,000 more Facebook followers to reach 88,000, a 20 percent increase before the start of the campaign.
The other obvious social media network for the Warriors — and any other organization — is Twitter. Now, if you were to go by raw numbers of followers, the Warriors wouldn’t seem to be successful on Twitter or Facebook. Their 92,355 Facebook “likes”, as of Halloween night, puts them at 18th in the NBA. The 12,312 people following the Warriors’ Twitter feed — also as of Halloween night — put them at 28th in the League. Yet that can be as much a product of the team’s on-court success (or lack thereof) as their social media efforts. After all, the Lakers aren’t renowned by their social media innovation yet they have almost 1.7 million Twitter followers and nearly 3.7 million Facebook “likes”.
So, what the Warriors can brag about on Twitter is their players’ presence on there. Seven of the team’s players, including star Stephen Curry, have official Twitter accounts. Those accounts, like the team’s other social media platforms, are documented and updated daily at the team’s social media page. As for educating players on how to use Twitter, that’ll will take some time.
The Warriors brass is still figuring out the best way to help their players extract as much value as they can from Twitter. Some players want it simply as a forum to note their day-to-day activities. (Reggie Williams recently tweeted about a late-night burrito run to Chiptole.) Others see it as a way to expand their personal brand. In that regard, the Warriors have to find a way to consult their players without alienating the players’ agents, who also have their clients’ brand in their best interest. The Warriors did basic Twitter educating during media training, but more education on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do, might be necessary.
One area of concentration for future marketing efforts is geo-location, such as what’s found on Four Square and what eventually will be enacted by Facebook’s Places application. The team is still figuring out exactly where the value is in geo-location, and how to integrate their fans into it. They have a head start with their fan base, in general.
Much of the San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area is besieged with tech firms. For example, Twitter is based in San Francisco and Facebook is in nearby Palo Alto. Google located in Mountain View, a neighbor of San Francisco. Even Wired, the popular magazine documenting the tech industry, is in San Francisco. The Warriors are surrounded by people who are receptive to a sports team which is progressive in the way it markets itself. And the Warriors plan to go after those fans, according to Rowell. “We’re going to always be creative in how we brand and market what we do here.”