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West Ham United launch their first “Social Media Match”

Tonight West Ham United take on Hull City in the Premier League.  Now a mid-table clash between two teams who have hit some reasonable form as we head into the business end of the season.

The game at Upton Park has been picked out by the home club as an opportunity to really push what they do when it comes to engaging with fans through social media.  Most teams will launch one or two new initiatives, but not West Ham.  They have gone all-out for this one and there is a huge amount going on across Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

There is action happening pre-match, during it and post-match! This is all aimed at activating the clubs 900,000+ followers across all their social media platforms (and presumably building on this number too).  It’s already gained coverage in the Metro, with whom it has a strong relationship and fans have been discussing it on forums, in fanzines and across social media platforms.

West Ham’s Media Officer (Digital), Leo Tyrie, explained to us the thinking behind the idea…

“As a Club West Ham United are always looking for new and exciting ways to engage with our fanbase and the idea of theming a match around our social media output made perfect sense for us.

Our numbers across Twitter and Facebook have steadily climbed over the past couple of years, while we have recently developed our output further across Instagram, Google+ and YouTube.

We want our supporters to feel as involved in the matchday experience as possible and we’re looking forward to showcasting their – and our – content around the match against Hull.”

Below is the exhaustive list of what has been going on, and also what will be happening during the day. I’m wondering if there will be any new Vines after the media team came along to our Digital Sport London event on Monday night, perhaps doing some last minute research! (They were mentioned as an example of best use of the tool during the event – well done Leo and your team).




#HammerShirts - The club asked fans to  Tweet them with messages of support for the team. The best 20 messages will be printed on T-shirts and worn by the players during their pre-match warm-up. The players will sign their own T-shirt, which will be sent to the fan who Tweeted their message. These messages will also appear in the Official Programme on matchday.

• Phoenix from the Flames - Fans were also asked to submit videos of them recreating your favourite West Ham United moment from the 2013/14 season! The winning entry or entries will be broadcast on the big screens before kick-off and on the Club’s Official YouTube channel.

The final piece of pre-match engagement was to conduct the main interview with Mohamed Diame in the Official Programme. Fans had to submit their questions for Mo on their Twitter page @whufc_official using the hashtage #AskMo




#Gloveaway - Goalkeeper Adrian will be leaving one of his gloves at a mystery east London location, which he will announce at 12noon on matchday on his Twitter page @AdriSanMiguel. The first fan to find Adrian’s glove will be given two tickets to the game (if required) and get to meet Adrian. (Similar to the Treasure Hunt run by Nottingham Forest recently)

• Competitions - There will be the chance to win a piece of signed memorabilia by entering their matchday starting XI prediction competition on Twitter using the hashtag #WHULINEUP and by predicting West Ham’s first goalscorer using #WHUGOAL

• #HammersPlaylist - Tweet your favourite song to be part of the matchday playlist at half-time. West Ham will create a ten-song shortlist, with the top three songs voted by fans on @whufc_official making the half-time playlist over the PA system. To nominate your ONE song for the Hammers Playlist, fans can do so now using the hashtag #HammersPlaylist

• Matchday coverage - Their multimedia team will be following the players around the Boleyn Ground on matchday, with regular videos being published on the Club’s official YouTube channel.

• #MattsMatchday - Midfielder Matt Taylor will Tweet his matchday from start to finish on his Twitter page @Official_MattT using the hashtag #MattsMatchday


During the action


• Player pundit - The club will be asking a first-team player (subject to availability) to join them in the Press Box to give his expert opinion on the action during the game on our official Twitter page @whufc_official

#HammerTimeDuring the game, they want fans to Tweet a photo from wherever they are watching the match, whether that be in the ground, at home or in a bar, on your own on with a group of fellow supporters using the hashtag #HammerTime. This will be interesting with the lack of 3G generally available at grounds – will any fans be able to do so during game time?

Matchday coverageSharing the very best images from in and around the Boleyn Ground all matchday, including action photos, in a gallery on their official Facebook page.




Man of the Match - Launching live Man of the Match vote immediately after the final whistle on the official Twitter page. The player with the most RT wins Man of the Match, with one of the fans who voted for him winning a signed prize.


It’s a pretty extensive list of activity – the West Ham media team are certainly going to be VERY busy for the rest of today!  Good luck to Leo and the team down at Upton Park. Hopefully we’ll follow it up with a chat with them about how it went and what their plans are going forward.


West Ham Mo Diame



Posted in Football, Social MediaComments (1)

#Sochi2014 on Social Media: Hot Numbers. Cool Conversations. All Yours

Last week the IOC released figures from around the Winter Olympics held in Russia to give a picture as to what was happening in the world of social media.

The IOC tracked activity on the Olympic Athlete’s Hub, their social media platform that combines feeds from more than 6,000 Olympians across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Russian speaking platform VKontakte (UK).

More than 2 million new fans joined the Olympic Facebook page during the Games and their Twitter grew by an extra 168k followers.  The official Instagram account was almost as high with 150k new followers.

Some of the other interesting highlights they picked out include;

  • The US was the most active team with 22,598 new posts logged during the Games!  That’s seriously some going!  Canada (15,716) and Team GB (9,867) were the next closest, some distance behind.
  • The busiest days were 7Th Feb, the Opening Ceremony, and 8th Feb when the figure skating and women’s free style skiing moguls were taking place.  This is interesting especially considering the interest in ice hockey especially in all the biggest countries (US, Canada, Russia).
  • After on year on VK, the official Olympic account amassed 2.8m fans to become the most popular official community on the platform.  There were more than 54m mentions of the Olympics on VK , an average of 1.5m per day. 10m came in the Opening Ceremony and 25m on the Closing Ceremony.

“Russia has had its first social media Olympics, and for the IOC it is important to engage and connect with the home team. The Games have come to an end, but the social legacy lives on as we want to keep connecting with our millions of new Russian fans, telling them about the Youth Olympic Games and of course Rio 2016 – the host city of the next Summer Olympics.” - IOC Director of Communications Mark Adams

Below is the infographic produced by the IOC to celebrate the end of the Games and give us an insight into what was happening on social media in that time.





Posted in Olympics, Research, Social MediaComments (0)

The Digital Super Bowl

Guest Post: Aaron Jaffrey (@aaronjaffery) is Managing Director of Digital Sport Consultancy NineteenEightyFour.

On Sunday 2nd February, arguably the biggest game in the American sporting calendar was played in New Jersey. Super Bowl XLVIII proved to be a one-sided display of dominance – finishing 43-8 in favour of the Seahawks. However, the successful digital strategies of both teams on the run up to, and during, the Super Bowl cannot be so easily separated.

NFC Champions the Seattle Seahawks came into Super Bowl XLVIII with a 13-3 record in the regular season, a joint best in the franchise history, and reached New Jersey as the Number 1 ranked seed going in the playoffs.

From the AFC, the Denver Broncos also boasted a 13-3 record and were officially named the best offensive team in the league by becoming the highest-scoring team in NFL history, with quarterback and offensive leader Peyton Manning earning his fifth MVP award for the season.

And whilst taking very different approaches to their digital communications, the online performance of the Seahawks and the Broncos is on a par with their on-the-field performances during the regular season.


The Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks strategy seems to be about building anticipation before the game, and in the week leading up to Super Bowl XLVIII after their NFC Championship game, the Seattle Seahawks rolled out an impressive volley of digital content.

Although lacking in any specific fan engagement campaigns or competitions – somewhat surprisingly, considering their renowned ‘12th Man’ fan base that commandeer an entire section of the homepage – the official site was regularly updated with the latest news stories, exclusive video footage, and preparatory stats comparisons and round-ups. The majority of these features, were shared across their social media channels, wherein lies the most engaging of the Seahawks’ online activity.

While Facebook and Twitter were used concurrently in the Seahawk’s digital campaign on the run up to the Super Bowl, Seattle did not simply repeat the same content on both channels.

Facebook, boasts the larger of the two social media fan bases with 1,597,754 fans, and was utilised to generate a sense of anticipation before the game. Much more of the official website content was shared on the newsfeed than its Twitter equivalent, all focussed on driving engagement and fan the passion of fans for the forthcoming game; for example video content such as ‘How to Stop Peyton Manning’; a meme-based daily countdown; and their ‘#SB48 Preview’ series that looks specifically at the performance stats of comparable Wide Receivers, Cornerbacks, Tight Ends, etc. from both teams.


The Seahawks’ Facebook account also elevates the visual above its Twitter counterpart: providing greater access to exclusive photo albums like ‘#SB48 Monday’s Media Session’ and the ‘Super Bowl Send-Off’, and making specialised Super Bowl wallpaper available for download.

With a greater advertising capacity for video links, Facebook is naturally the better option for the Seahawks to share the majority of their website content, as well as their official Super Bowl anthem ‘Seahawks State of Mind’, a parody of the famous Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song in honour of the game being held in New Jersey.

Maybe the Seahawks could have capitalised more on engagement opportunities – perhaps coining ‘competition Wednesdays’ as a prize-giveaway campaign as well as the globally-trending name given by Pete Carroll to his Wednesday training sessions, which are famously difficult as he pits the best offensive line against his best defensive line.

Twitter, on the other hand, seems to function for the Seahawks more as a digital medium for written promotional activity. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Twitter feed, in comparison to the Facebook homepage, is its more natural capacity for succinct live match commentary during the game itself: which, in part, seems to account for the rise of 49,785 followers on Super Bowl Sunday itself, taking the total number of followers up to 479,785 by February 3rd.

This is a method used by the majority of sports teams, however, and while the Seahawks seem to have done this successfully it does not exactly mark out their digital strategy from the crowd.

What is distinctive is that Seattle have created a separate Twitter account for all promotional activity, offers and competitions, under ‘@winSeahawks’. This has 208,000 followers in its own right, and provides supporters with access to offers from local partners – 50% off Papa John’s with a valid game ticket, free small slurpee and bag of jerky at Western Washington 7-elevens, etc. – as well as organising competitions for the chance to win more enticing prizes: the last campaign advertising a football signed by quarterback Russell Wilson for one winner who signed up to ‘Hawk Mail’ via the official website.

More than a separation of commercial activities from content, the @winSeahawks account is used to activate fan-engagement. The #TGIBFWinner hashtag capitalises on the trending #TGIBF across all the official Seahawks Twitter accounts, which stands for ‘Thank God It’s Blue Friday’ – the name given to every Friday before a Seahawks game throughout the regular season, which encourages fans to wear blue in support of their team.

The @winSeahawks account expands on this premise by calling its followers to upload pictures or videos of themselves showing this support for the Seahawks by wearing their blue NFL jerseys in interesting locations or accompanied by funny anecdotes, with the most eye-catching being re-tweeted on the official Twitter feed. They have translated the famous ‘12th Man’ presence from Seattle into the online environment using social media.

Rams Seahawks Football

Whilst not especially original or innovative, the use both their core social channels very effectively. The official @Seahawks Twitter page capitalises on its celebrity fan base by re-tweeting supportive messages from famous personalities such as Patrick Stewart, Macklemore, and Bill Gates – who organised the construction of a human blue #12 flag in the Redmond Stadium, in partnership with Microsoft, and took an aerial photograph for the Super Bowl advertisement campaign.

In addition to publicising their famous support base the Seahawks also worked with official kit sponsors Nike to create inspirational memes to convey a sense of personality, pride and anticipation before the Super Bowl game.

Furthermore, Seattle’s fans want their voices to be heard, and this is something that the Seahawks – attributing their defensive success in leading the NFL this season to the record-breaking vocal support of the ‘12th Man’ – understand. Seattle recognise that Twitter is the ideal medium for this.

The very fact that the Seahawks have designated a separate page to fan engagement demonstrates a savvy approach to keeping their promotional activity associated with the frequent news and updates available through the official account, yet sustains a degree of separation so that they do not dilute the content of the main Twitter feed with offers and competitions.



Seattle’s Facebook campaign focused on conjuring a greater sense of anticipation in preparation for the Super Bowl game on February 2nd, whilst their use of Twitter displayed a greater preoccupation with fan engagement and promotional activity. Perhaps it was these slight differences in the Seahawks’ online approach that contributed to their successful digital turnover.

Indeed, the Seahawks boasted an impressive expansion of their digital outreach: with a 29% rise in their Facebook following during the monthly period between January 3rd and the day after the Super Bowl game; their Twitter followers also increasing by 37% during the same time. Although some may attribute the success of this growth in their online support to their complete supremacy during the Super Bowl game itself and their new status as champions, it is interesting to note that their fans on Facebook rose by 20%, and on Twitter by 23%, before February 2nd. The Seahawks’ use of social media was obviously attractive in its own right.


Denver Broncos

For the Denver Broncos, social media functions as a foundation on which to build the sense of an online community. Their impressive #OrangeHerd campaign, which was launched across both Facebook and Twitter on the day before the Super Bowl fixture, encouraging fans throughout the world to upload photos of themselves and their friends wearing the famous orange NFL jerseys and stating where they will be watching the Super Bowl from.

There was a particular push for fans from Massachusetts, Alabama and Florida to get involved, as part of the ‘Rock Your Jersey’ campaign on the Broncos’ official website: which attempts to digitally colonise as much of the map of the US with orange jerseys as possible before the Super Bowl.

For fans attending the Super Bowl itself, the Broncos’ channels also provided an occasion for personal interaction, by arranging a group photo of as many Denver supporters as were willing, next to the statue of the charging bull outside Mustang Sally’s in New York City on February 1st. Somewhat surprisingly, this photo was not utilised on its channels post-game.

This was arguably a missed opportunity for the Broncos to further promote this sense of community amongst their fans. If the group photo had been uploaded to Facebook, for instance, every fan included could have tagged themselves: meaning that they would not only feel a sense of inclusion in the Super Bowl experience, but also that the photo itself would be shared onto each individual newsfeed – achieving a far greater digital outreach.

However, Denver do seem to recognise the importance of online advocacy to the overall success of their strategy: something demonstrated by the simple, yet effective, encouragement of their fans on Facebook to make the official meme of the team’s trending hashtag #UnitedInOrange their profile picture, as well as sharing the meme onto their newsfeeds.

united in orange

Just as the MetLife stadium stands were filled with a community of orange-wearing fans during the Super Bowl game itself, the online support for the Broncos also marked their territory in the digital environment with the colour that somewhat defines their franchise. In their implementation of social media, Denver seemed most intent on conveying this sense of unity.

An in contrast to Seattle, Denver implemented an online Super Bowl-specific competition. The ‘Helmet Hunt’ was advertised across Facebook and Twitter, and challenged fans to identify a series of famous New York landmarks pictured with a visiting Denver Broncos helmet. Entrants participated via the Broncos’ official website for a chance to win an official jersey signed by cornerback Champ Bailey.

The competition was relatively simple and easily accessible and helped to create a sense of anticipation before the Super Bowl game by being based in New York City, as well as providing a real incentive for fans to get involved and digitally support their team.

And whilst similarly to Seattle, Denver used Twitter competently for extensive match commentary during the game itself, another clear difference was Denver’s use of Vines on Twitter.

The globally-trending seven-second videos were used to capture key moments leading up to the Super Bowl on the day itself: such as preparations in the locker room, warming up, and the #TimeToRide vine of the Broncos coming onto the field at the start of the game, which was retweeted 1,311 times and made favourite by 741 followers. Vine was something that the Seahawks did not explore in their own campaign, and allowed Denver to tap into a whole new network of online consumers.



Statistically, the amount of online support that Denver obtained during this period is on par with to Seattle. Facebook seemed the more appealing of the two social media channels for Broncos fans, increasing by 20% from January 3rd and attracting 2,408,829 by February 3rd – 811,075 more than the Seahawks. Denver also came out on top on Twitter after a rise of 16% in their following meant they had acquired 7,977 more fans than Seattle, taking their total to 487,762.

It is interesting that Denver maintained this digital supremacy despite their defeat in the Super Bowl; for both Twitter and Facebook, the most dramatic increase of fans occurred in the 24-hour period during and just after game day.

In part, this may be attributed to the fact that the Broncos have been more successful than the Seahawks as a franchise: winning two consecutive Super Bowls during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. However, it may also be the result of the engaging online campaign from Denver.

While Seattle capitalised on the high-profile nature of the Super Bowl by focusing their digital campaign on boosting the feeling of anticipation surrounding the game, Denver concentrated on imparting a sense of fan community in their online environment.

And, whilst it is something of a shame that Denver were defeated so persuasively by the Seattle Seahawks on February 2nd 2014, as a result of their innovative campaigns and focus on driving fan interaction, it was perhaps the Broncos that were the true digital Super Bowl XLVIII champions.

thank you



Posted in Digital, Social Media, SportComments (0)

Case Study: Professional Squash Association’s Social Commentary Competition

It’s great to cover sports that don’t get as much coverage here on UKSN, and for the first time we have the opportunity to look at what Squash has been doing to engage with fans of the sport.

The PSA (Professional Squash Association) has been running its PPV internet streaming service, SquashTV, since 2010 and covers a minimum of 12 tournaments and 300 live games from around the world.  At the end of 2013 they looked at ways in to bring the fans closer to the action and launched #Voice4Squash just before Christmas.

The competition started off with a post showing entry information on their website and social media channels, asking fans to submit an audio clip to a specific piece of action and then email it into the PSA.  The prize for doing so?  The chance to to join the SquashTV online streaming team and commentate live on the action in 2014.  It’s the squash equivalent of joining John Motson up on the gantry for a Premier League game.

Almost 100 clips were received by the team, so the next step was to filter these down into a top 10.  Those lucky few were then challenged to record a second commentary, this time to a different action clip.  At this point voting wasn’t public as the PSA again whittled the numbers down to select their top 5.


Those top 5 audio clips were then dubbed over the action and the final videos were uploaded onto YouTube for the fans to listen to.  They were asked to vote for their favourite by using the hashtag #STVComms followed by the 3 letter code at the end either on Facebook or Twitter.

“We are really pleased with the levels of interest and engagement that we received from the squash community to this competition. We received clips from every continent bar Antarctica to the initial stage of the competition – which was completely above our expectations.  The competition was very exciting for us as an organisation as it allowed us an opportunity to really combine all of our social media channels in one exciting campaign while also delivering something truly unique to our fans.

“From hosting both the initial ’test action’ and the finalists’ commentary clips on SquashTV’s YouTube channel, conducting the voting stage via Facebook and Twitter and using our official website as the ’news hub’ for the competition, we saw higher engagement levels than in any previous campaign.”  -  Nathan Clarke, PR & Comms Manager, PSA

The final outcome was one winner with almost 50% of the votes.  Those votes totalled almost 800, with the majority on the PSA Facebook page (most of them using the right hashtag) and a few on Twitter.  The engagement on Facebook  could be down to amount of interaction and uploading of teaser video content of matches that have been taking place on the platform (with some very good calls to action).

The winner was English graphic designer Christian Zavanaiu, with American Robert Burns coming second and England’s Kate Mason in third.  The two runners up will also get the chance to commentate on a PSA match this year.  Zavanaiu was quoted on the PSA World Tour website as saying;

“I absolutely adore SquashTV and have been a subscriber for over six years now.  I’m a keen squash player and play at a county level – so when I saw the SquashTV competition offering an opportunity to become the Voice4Squash I couldn’t resist entering but I never thought I would win!

“It’s amazing how much I’ve learnt about my game and the game in general from watching SquashTV. The presenters are incredibly knowledgeable and the banter between PJ and Joey is priceless at times.  I cannot wait to join the Squash TV team and commentate live on Squash TV. It’s very exciting for me – I might just read the rule book once again though beforehand!”

It was a really nice engaging competition which kept fans engaged at almost every step along the way.  I’m sure those who voted will be tuning in to listen to the winner commentating for the first time.  It also gives them the hope that one day they could win such a great prize.  Anyway, here is his winning entry;

It shows the benefit of investing in a PPV channel by a sports governing body, something they have been leading at for some time.  Some sports are not going to have enough traction with TV companies to start a bidding war and make the types of money that football, rugby and cricket do.  Taking that content and owning it shows that fans are willing to pay for a great product in numbers that make it a sound investment.  Other sports could learn a lot from the PSA.


Posted in Social Media, SportComments (0)

#LoveJu: the world’s first social choreography

Juventus, the current leaders of Serie A, devised a great way in which to engage with fans of the club around the world.  The #LoveJu initiative was the world’s first choreography conceived and voted for entirely on social networks, producing a magical spectacle as Juventus and Inter took the field for the Derby d’Italia.

A sea of coloured pieces of card raised proudly by supporters in the ground’s Tribuna Est brought to life the initial vision of Steven Kem, fellow Bianconeri fan and designer of the winning #LoveJu choreography.

Steven’s creation was chosen from the total of 3122 sent in via the dedicated Facebook app, which garnered 4,500 registered users, was viewed 290,000 times and inspired as many as 18,118 people to vote for their favourite design.

In practice, it took more than three hours of work by a 40-strong team to place the 12,700 pieces of coloured card necessary to carry out the choreography (8,000 square metres of it in total) on the seats.


As well as the in stadia work, #LoveJu was also the hashtag the supporters used to send in their motivational messages for the team on Twitter.  A selection of messages were then shown on the Juventus Stadium big screens to get the Bianconeri fired up for the Derby d’Italia.  More than 13,500 tweets arrived in total from all four corners of the globe.

Just after #LoveJu was realised at the Inter game, they then hit another milestone in passing 10m fans on Facebook.  To celebrate they have released a video including Carlos Tevez (the clubs number 10!) hitting a ‘Like’ sign from the top of a building at their training complex (fake or real??).

Juventus are making a big push on social media with their Head of Digital, Federico Palomba, leading the way.  Social media has become increasingly important to clubs in Italy with AC Milan and AAS Roma both extremely active on numerous platforms.


Posted in Football, Social Media, SportComments (0)

SitNearMe: Can Social Ticket Sales Through Facebook Really Take Off?

Last week an announcement was made by Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, the owners of Denver Nuggets basketball team (and Arsenal), about their partnership with Evento to maximise social ticket sales through fan engagement through the Nuggets’ Facebook page.

Evento’s SitNearMe platform allows fans to purchase tickets whilst being able to see where their friends are sat.  Great information when looking to see who else is going and which area of the stadium to book your spot.  According to research, social media platforms can as much as three times more effective in selling tickets than traditional marketing tactics.

“We have over 1.2 million Nuggets Facebook fans, one of the most active and engaged followings in the NBA.  Attending a game is one of the most exciting experiences for a fan, so we wanted to enable our robust social fan-base an opportunity to purchase seats near their friends.  By implementing SitNearMe® into our Facebook page, we’re not just utilizing the social site for information sharing and engagement, but it is now an integrated piece of our overall strategy to help get more fans into the arena.”  -  Che Vialpando, Denver Nuggets Senior Vice President of Team Sales.

Facebook was meant to be the next big e-commerce platform, often called f-commerce, back in 2011.  But a lack of take up (and success) by the bigger names in business meant that it didn’t took off in the big way that many had predicted.  But this does not mean to say that it cannot work or isn’t working now for some.

YouTube Preview Image

At the end of last year, the tech news site ZD Net, highlighted how Facebook commerce has been a success for some.  Nothing to do with sport but clothing store Apricot Lane Peoria generates around $2m in annual sales, about half of which comes from online and the majority of that half is from Facebook using Ecwid.

So back to the Denver Nuggets and SitNearMe.  For a team with over 1.2m fans and a dedication to the platform through budget, there is every chance it can succeed.  As consumers we are driven by peer influence – we take in what others are wearing, where they go on holiday, etc.  We look for social endorsement and recommendations.  It both helps us filter information to make decisions and feel accepted when we have made them.

With Kroenke Sports having instigated fan-friendly ticketing solutions at their other Denver teams (Colorado Avalanche, Rapids and Mammoth).  What chance us seeing something creep in at Arsenal where Stan Kroenke is majority shareholder?  With 20m fans on the platform there would certainly be an audience for it.

The results aren’t known yet for such a new launch, but it will be interesting to find out both in the short and longer terms what impact the social ticketing service has had.  Will it take time for fans to get used to it?  Will people ever get used to and trust purchasing through social networks?  With Twitter soon to launch their own in-app purchasing (if rumours are true) it could become the new ‘norm’.

What are you thoughts on social commerce?  Have you ever bought anything on Facebook?

sitnearme denver nuggets

Posted in Basketball, Digital, TechComments (0)

How did the NBA digitally bring the Global Games to London?

Guest Post: Aaron Jaffery (@aaronjaffery) is Managing Director of Digital Sport Consultancy NineteenEightyFour.

The NBA fan base reaches far and wide from its spiritual home in North America. International expansion is a key strategic pillar in the NBA’s growth strategy.  Worldwide revenue streams are the fastest growing strand of the NBA’s overall revenue, and over half NBA.com’s 9.6bn page views and 5.6bn video streams come from outside the USA .

Added to this is the indomitable strength of the NBA’s social media following. Both the organisation and the franchises dwarf the reach following from their national competing sports – including the NFL. Indeed, social media dominance was cited as the main reason that the NBA will be more profitable than the NFL by Forbes.

So, following on from our review of NBA’s Manchester outing NineteenEightyFour have taken a look at the NBA’s digital strategy in the run up to the most recent Global Games outing, where the Atlanta Hawks took on the Brooklyn Nets at the O2 in London.


Focus on Facebook Engagement

With the official NBA UK page on Facebook seeing an increase of 42.5% in the monthly period leading up to, and shortly surpassing, the game, NBA UK will be very happy with their growing reach.

In the month running up to January 23rd 2014 NBA UK’s following jumped from 91,500 to 130,415. This can largely be attributed to the promotional activity on Facebook preceding the event. In the run up to the game, NBA UK’s Facebook page heavily featured content from the two teams competing in London, the Hawks and the Nets. This gave UK fans the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the players, staff, standings and playing styles of both the Nets and the Hawks before they appeared at the O2.

Going even further, the NBA UK Facebook page was subject to a ‘Hawks Takeover’ during Day Four of their daily countdown to the game in London. This saw Atlanta include their UK fans in their weekly trivia challenge established on their own Facebook channel, and a special UK edition of their ‘Six Word Sunday’ engagement campaign: which encouraged their British supporters to comment on a designated photo to explain how they became interested in the NBA from across the pond in only six words.

Whilst the fan response was limited; (290 of the NBA UK’s 130,000 fan base liked the trivia challenge which elicited only 13 comments, and the ‘Six Word Sunday’ achieved only a marginally better reaction with 304 likes and 51 comments), the NBA recognised the importance of providing franchises the platform to engage with a new audience to build a connection.

NBA UK persevered in their attempts to familiarise the audience with players in both teams: particularly through their ‘Get To Know…’ video series which featured star players Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Joe Johnson, and Elton Brand. These videos – also accessible on Youtube – consistently evoked a response of over 200 likes, with Paul Pierce’s interview attracting 407 likes, 24 comments and 24 shares. Providing an insight into player personalities is clearly still essential for boosting online engagement in new territories.


Cross-media integration

The most impactful activity of NBA UK’s strategy was the launch of their official #HUNTFORNBA (http://topsy.com/s?q=%23HUNTFORNBA) competition across both Facebook and Twitter. This encouraged fans to participate in a scavenger hunt between Oxford Circus and Bond Street on the 15Th January, the day before the match between the Nets and the Hawks, in a bid to win free tickets to the game and copies of NBA 2k14 for all consoles.

The digital twist to this treasure hunt was that the clues to the location of these prizes were only posted on both Facebook and Twitter, thereby making it necessary for entrants to register their participation online through either of these two channels before being eligible for entry. From first advertising this campaign on both Facebook and Twitter on 13th January 2014, the amount of online support for both social media sites increased significantly: with the number of Facebook fans rising from just under 100,000 to 115,000 in three days; the increase in Twitter followers from 15,300 on January 13th to 16,800 by January 17th was equally impressive.

nba london 1


Leveraging Local Sport

Continuing the theme from the Manchester game, NBA UK partnered with UK-based sports personalities to help drive the message to a wider audience. Just as in Manchester, the competing teams tapped into local fans by visiting Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham FC. And during half-time of the game, the social channels carried a live basketball-oriented Q&A session with Chelsea FC players André Schürrle and Ryan Bertrand.


Buzzer Beater

NBA UK looked to maximise the opportunity to connect with fans by a promoting ‘Just in case you missed it…’ video series available on the official NBA YouTube channel. The content contained footage of the game itself along with access to the ‘Dance Cam’, ‘Kiss Cam’ and video recordings of interviews with celebrity supporters: all of which would be interesting to someone who actually attended the match and wanted to revisit some of the night’s action. And after the game, NBA UK continued their online engagement campaign by encouraging fans to submit their best photos from the game at the O2 to the official NBA website, in a bid to be featured on the official Facebook cover photo.

This ongoing engagement past the fixture has contributed to a continuation in growth in all social channels. The NBA UK Twitter account now boasts 16,918 followers – a 14% increase in online support from exactly a month ago – and, significantly, saw the sharpest increase throughout this monthly period occurring in just one day; their Twitter following rose by 800 between the 16th and the 17th January, the day after the game.


NBA UK: A Recipe for Success

The NBA UK’s London leg of its Global Games series was undoubtedly a success, helping the NBA to grow its reach into the UK market and engage with fans more deeply. We’ve distilled this success into 4 core themes:

  • Capitalise on player personality
  • Leverage the connection with local sport
  • Combine digital and traditional channels to maximise impact
  • Use content and engagement to extend the conversation

Players are, by their profile and sporting ability, role-models and aspirational figures to all. But beneath it all, they are just normal people. By portraying the personality of the players on the court, NBA UK broke down the barriers that separate fans from their idols, making the game more accessible to a new audience.

Arranging and documenting the social liaisons between the Nets and the Hawks with Chelsea, Arsenal and Fulham FC through re-tweets and media shares on both Facebook and Twitter, the NBA UK were also able to tap into an excessive UK sporting fan base that is digitally attached to these football clubs: thereby boosting their own online support at the same time.

By combining traditional experiential media with digital channels in the form of a competition gave the NBA access to an audience beyond those with a high-interest in the sport, and engage with fans that were not committed to buying tickets themselves.

Lastly, by utilising owned-content and sourcing user-generated content, NBA UK were able to extend the conversation beyond the buzzer, enabling them to capitalise on the activity and continue to grow in the weeks that follow.

In each case, the sense of online reciprocity between the fans and the NBA UK is impressive; the Global Games, as a tournament, responded to interest in the NBA from other countries, and the online reaction to the London 2014 fixture shows that this interest just continues to grow.


Posted in Basketball, Digital, Social MediaComments (0)

NBA Social Media in the UK [infographic]

This Thursday (16th) sees the first big game in the UK of the year, with Atlanta Hawks taking on the Brooklyn Nets at the London O2.  After the success of the recent games here and the obvious appetite for the NBA, this should translate to social media success as well you would think?

But… things are not always as they appear.  The NBA has a large Facebook page (19m) with over 219k of those fans based here in the UK.  But the NBA UK page, which is supposed to provide for fans over here and promote these games, is only creeping above 33k.  The following on social media and the speed at which the games sell out (quickly) certainly show some differences.

The two teams who are travelling over are not going to be the most recognisable to UK fans.  In terms of pure fan numbers, the Nets have 6k UK fans on their page whilst the Hawks have only 2k.  Some way behind when it comes to fans and the amount of conversation enjoyed by the likes of Miami Heat and LA Lakers.

A deeper look at the teams and the UK series will be on here tomorrow.  But for now here is the great infographic put together by Ash Read and the guys at We Play.  You should also check out the full #NBAUKreport released by We Play recently.

NBA UK Infographic

Posted in Basketball, Social MediaComments (1)

Spurs top Social Media league table of 148 UK sports teams

The first ever index ranking British professional football, rugby and cricket teams according to social media performance has been launched with Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur topping the tree.

The Sport Social Media Index is a league table of 148 British professional football (English Premier League, Championship, Leagues One and Two; plus the SPL) rugby (Super League and Premiership) and cricket (County Championship Divisions One and Two) teams, ranked according to the best use of social media by their official club channels.

To be published annually, The Sport Social Media Index, produced by PR and social media agency Umpf with partners William Hill, was four months in the making.  The table is compiled by measuring the performance of each team based not just on an algorithm, but research from a team of nine people who looked at eight social networks, as well as a panel of four judges who presided over the results.

It includes an overall table of 148 teams ranked first to last, plus nine additional tables showing rankings based on each sporting league.

The leading professional team in the inaugural Sport Social Media Index is Tottenham Hotspur with a score of 69.9 out of 100, more than two points ahead of second-placed Chelsea (67.6) and almost three points ahead of Leyton Orient in third (67).

According to the judges, Spurs generated a strong data score with excellent levels of community engagement, offering a great breadth of social media channels, which it used to their potential.

Michael Sheehan, Social Media Customer Experience Manager at William Hill, said:

“Tottenham deserved to be crowned this year’s winners as they have truly mastered the art of engaging with their fans on multiple platforms. Their content is fresh, engaging and resonates well with their supporters.

“Leeds Rhinos were another notable winner in their respective category as they have also demonstrated a clear understanding of social media. Their use of clever hashtags and stunning imagery has shown the importance of social media for educating and engaging with fans and potential supporters alike.”

Full league tables, methodology and judges’ bios available at :www.sport.socialmediaindex.co.uk

So, how did the judges decide upon the final results?  Be way of an insight, below are three case studies covering Premier League, League 1 and Rugby League.  It shows what types of content and interaction saw them being picked out as examples of the best there is.  Do you agree with the judges?



Tottenham Hotspur generated a strong data score with excellent engagement.  The club not only has a great breadth of social media channels – including official pages on Vine, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google Plus – but uses them to their potential.

Judges acknowledged the variety of content available across all channels, praising the platform-by-platform tailoring of content, noting that material was used when it was appropriate for that channel. Judges were also impressed by the strength of video content.

The availability of unique, behind-the-scenes footage was another highlight, and it is no surprise that this activity receives very high engagement as it taps into fans’ curiosity.

Match day coverage is also excellent and the club provides detailed coverage of the first team, U21s and U18s.

This image generated in excess of 12,000 likes and more than 1,000 shares.




Leyton Orient is the highest placed non-Premier League football team in the Index. The East London club – which averages home attendances of around 5,500 – had one of the highest data scores of all 148 teams.

Its ratio of community growth, engagement, responsiveness, plus range and depth of activity enabled the club to achieve high scores in the algorithm.  Orient scored well with judges who praised their excellent breadth of official channels, use of media and noted their high levels engagement.

Judges said Leyton Orient showed a great understanding of what content their fans like to see and were generally in tune to the wants and needs of their communities.

The use of archive material, such as the ‘on this day’ stories, plus Q&A sessions with high profile figures such as the manager and chairman and use of hashtags to monitor and collate questions, were noted by the panel for generating large reach.

Jonny Davies Media & Communications Manager at Leyton Orient said: “Our social media channels are hugely important to us. Not only do they allow us to break news to fans as soon as it happens, but they also allow us to give fans a more 360-degree view of the club and make them feel at the heart of everything we do.”

leyton orient



Rugby League side Leeds Rhinos finished fifth place in the overall Index, the highest placed non-football team. The Yorkshire club received a very strong data score, good marks for the amount of official channels available to fans, and for the content that was used on each.

The judges highlighted the excellent use of hashtags across the board as well as clever use of visual assets such as their Facebook cover picture to advertise upcoming games and player achievements.

Also noted was the impressive use of fan photos from home games, the constantly changing cover photos, as well as behind-the-scenes access – although not groundbreaking, the panel agreed that it showed a willingness by the club to put time and resources in to creating content which can be consumed by fans for free.

As well as the timeliness of distribution and the responsiveness of moderators, judges were generally impressed with the club’s understanding of social media and how their staff fostered and developed communities.



Posted in cricket, Football, Research, Rugby, Social Media, SportComments (2)

SportSocial platform launches with FC Business

Manchester United are the fastest growing Premier League club across a majority of social media platforms according to SportSocial, a new platform for measuring social media activity in sport. The Red Devils have achieved a larger MoM growth between November and December on all the platforms they are active on then any of their competitors.

Sport Social, from sport digital consultancy NineteenEightyFour, provides rights holders and sports brands with a one-stop destination to view how their club or brand fares when compared with their on-the-field competition. Sport Social takes twice-daily feeds from the 5 most popular social platforms Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Google+, for all brands within a competition. It then ranks them based on followers, and provides the ability for account growth to be analysed at daily, weekly, fortnightly and monthly intervals.

Aaron Syed Jaffery, Managing Director of NineteenEightyFour and good friend of UKSN, said,

‘There is a wealth of opinion on how best to measure social media activity. SportSocial measures the one element that is common to all platforms – follower figures. Based on this, we can see that Manchester United’s new social strategy this season is paying dividends in growing their social reach, despite some less than optimum on-the-field performances.

“However, we agree user engagement is the key to a successful campaign. So we have gone deeper and enabled users to see further social metrics at a glance, including the number of Tweets, Fans talking about, number of photo’s posted, video views and +1’s to name a few. Users can slice and dice the figures as they best feel fits their campaigns and help them to measure their social media activity against their on-the-field competition over time.”

SportSocial also enables users to be one-click away from viewing any social profile, as these are embedded within each listing. And supporting the real-time ethos of the league tables is a live Twitter feed of relevant hashtags for users to see what is being discussed around the subjects of #sportbiz, #digisport, #smsports and #sponsorship, amongst others.

At launch, SportSocial lists all English Premier League and Football League clubs sponsored by leading football industry magazine, fcbusiness, as well as all clubs in Rugby Union’s Aviva Premiership. In addition, users can see social league tables for Spain’s La Liga, the UEFA Champions League and Europa Cup, as well as for F1 Racing Drivers and the Top Men’s Tennis players on the ATP Tour.

Aaron Gourley, Deputy Editor of fcbusiness, added,

“Social media has become an integral component of a football club’s marketing and communications strategy over the last few years. Not only has it allowed clubs to reconnect with many fans that were beginning to feel disenfranchised it has also become an incredibly powerful tool for sponsorship activation activities.

“The SportSocial league tables give clubs an opportunity to track how they are performing against their peers and will become an incredibly useful tool for anyone interested in social and digital media in sport.”

In coming weeks more leagues will be added to SportSocial including the Bundesliga, Eredivisie, Ligue 1 and Serie A, with plans to add more sports in January 2014.



Posted in Football, Rugby, Social Media, SportComments (0)

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