NBA in the UK - Challenges, Opportunities and Social Media ROI


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This report is a detailed look into the NBA's expansion into the UK. Included in the report are:

- Our Fan Evolution Model: how fans can go from casual bystanders to retained customers
- The challenges faced by the NBA and the teams participating in 2014 Global Games
- The impact previous NBA UK events have had on social media and lessons from these events
- Which NBA teams are currently the most talked about in the UK
- The importance of leaving a legacy from the Global Games
- How social media can help the NBA drive revenue

NBA in the UK - Challenges, Opportunities and Social Media ROI

  2. 2. Contents 1.  2.  3.  4.  5.  6.  7.  8.  9.  Introduction Challenges Fan Evolution Model NBA in the UK The Teams New Audiences Creating Legacy Revenue and ROI Conclusion
  3. 3. Introduction One Night. One Game. A Million Opportunities On January 16th 2014, London’s O2 arena welcomes back NBA action as the  Atlanta Hawks  take on the starstudded  Brooklyn Nets.  Tickets for the  Hawks  v  Nets  game sold out in record time, making it the eighth consecutive sellout NBA game at the O2 in London. For the NBA, this event could already be deemed a success due to the speed that it sold out, but there are still plenty of challenges ahead for the  NBA  and both the Hawks and Nets. Throughout this report we’re going to discuss these challenges, look back at past events in the UK and discuss the importance of creating loyal fans and leaving a legacy. #NBAUKReport
  4. 4. Introduction What We’ll Be Sharing: • The challenges faced by the NBA and the teams participating in the 2014 Global Games • The impact that previous NBA UK events have had on social media • Which NBA teams are currently the most talked about in the UK • The importance of leaving a legacy from the Global Games • How social media can help the NBA drive revenue #NBAUKReport
  5. 5. Global Games Challenges •  Create opportunities for partners - by creating an engaged audience in the UK the NBA can create additional opportunities for broadcast partners, sponsors and other partner brands •  Leave a legacy - the full 2013-14 NBA Global Games schedule includes a total of 12 NBA teams playing 10 regular season and preseason games in eight cities in six countries and territories. The Global Games aren’t about quick hits; they’re about creating a legacy for the NBA and the teams involved •  Revenue and ROI - increasing revenue is the ultimate goal of all social media efforts. Social media gives the  NBA  the opportunity to create sales opportunities and increase revenue from properties such as; the NBA Europe online store, NBA London merchandise inside the O2 arena and NBA League Pass subscriptions. Not to mention the longer-term revenue opportunities that arise from growing their fan base #NBAUKReport
  6. 6. Global Games Challenges ü  Fill the stadium - as we mentioned in the intro, January’s game sold-out in record time, which means the NBA have passed the first challenge with flying colours. The quick sell-out will be a huge relief to the organisation after some negativity around the number of empty seats in Manchester this past summer for the Sixers v Thunder pre-season match • Reach and engage new audiences - in previous years conversation around NBA UK games has only lasted for a day or two in the build up to and after the events • Sustain conversation - the  NBA,  Hawks  and  Nets  need to create far more buzz across social media before and after the event to sustain conversation and maximise the opportunities provided by their trip to London #NBAUKReport
  7. 7. FAN SEGMENTATION By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  8. 8. Fan Evolution Model Over the past few months, at We Play, we’ve been closely following and analysing social audience growth of all 30 NBA teams thanks to our NBA Social Media League. The NBA Social Media League is updated every week and can be found on the We Play website. This analysis combined with our understanding of sports fan behaviour has allowed us to document the basketball fan journey from occasional to devoted – or, on a commercial level, from passive bystander to retained customer. #NBAUKReport
  9. 9. Fan Evolution Model To piece together the evolution of an NBA fan we must first understand the different types of NBA fans and their behaviours. From our research and discussions with various fans we were able to identify three types of NBA fan: •  Occasional fans: enjoy basketball, but it’s not a focal point of their life. For them to get involved in discussions around the NBA or engage with content their friends have to be talking about it first •  Engaged fans: stay up-to-date with the NBA and are likely to follow the league and their favourite teams / players via social media. Engaged fans are likely to have a favourite team and own some NBA merchandise •  Devoted fans: these are the most dedicated fans; they’ll have favourite teams, players and strong opinions on all things basketball. Devoted fans are likely to own NBA merchandise and great candidates for League Pass subscriptions Not all fans have the same traits and behaviours. By understanding different types of fans the NBA will understand their motivations and actively target the groups with different messages and. #NBAUKReport
  10. 10. Fan Segmentation Analysis What’s important to the audience Community Engaging Active Environment What this means for Devoted NBA fans I feel like I’m connected to the NBA and other passionate fans. The NBA gives me all the information I need. I don’t need other sources for coverage. Coverage and content is available at all times. There’s never a dull moment with the NBA. I can always stay connected. No matter where I am or what device I’m on. The NBA keeps me and my friends engaged creating a community for us. There’s always a talking point or something I find interesting. Round the clock coverage means I can dip in and out as I wish. The NBA coverage is always accessible to me; when and where I want it. Others around me need to be talking about the NBA for me to be interested. The more people talk about it, the more I want to be a part of the conversation. I can easily find the latest talking points to join the conversation as and when I want to. If and when I want to get involved there are no barriers to entry for me. What this means for Engaged NBA fans What this means for Occasional NBA fans
  11. 11. Evolution of an NBA Fan 11 This chart illustrates the journey of an NBA fan becoming a loyal NBA customer I enjoy the NBA and regular purchase merchandise RETAINED CUSTOMER NBA CUSTOMER JOURNEY I occasionally chat about the NBA with my friends ENGAGED AWARE My life isn't complete without basketball I keep up-todate with the action via social media I like basketball but it’s not a focal point of my life PASSIVE OCCASIONAL FAN ENGAGED FAN FAN SEGMENT DEVOTED FAN #NBAUKReport
  12. 12. Fan Evolution Model It’s the  transition from passive bystander to retained customer  and the  continued engagement of retained customers  that will generate ROI and revenue for the teams and NBA. O u r Fa n E v o l u t i o n Only 20,000 fans will be in attendance at the O2 in January, but social media creates opportunity for the event to not only reach and engage a much larger audience, but to create loyal, revenue-driving fans. Model highlights the behaviours and motivations of the three different types of NBA fans. Increasing the number of engaged and devoted fans in the UK will generate revenue opportunities. #NBAUKReport
  13. 13. NBA IN THE UK By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  14. 14. NBA in the UK The UK is a key market for the NBA. As such, last year they launched UK specific Facebook and Twitter pages. The NBA UK Facebook page currently has 73,416 fans, of which only 24,949 fans (34.1%) are actually from the United Kingdom. The NBA UK Twitter account has accumulated 13,884 followers since launch and around 10 new followers are added each day. The NBA global Facebook page has 214,917 UK based fans. This highlights huge growth potential for the UK page. #NBAUKReport
  15. 15. Conversation Analysis NBA Global Game – 17/01/2013 London, England Detroit Pistons 97, New York Knicks102 •  Conversation around the game in London only started to gain momentum the day before the event took place •  Conversation dropped off extremely quickly with mentions of both teams back to the usual levels days after the event Game-day in London Bulls v Knicks Knicks v Nets Knicks defeat Spurs Knicks lose to Celtics The above conversation analysis shows mentions of Pistons, Knicks and #NBALondon in the UK throughout January 2013.
  16. 16. Conversation Analysis NBA Global Game – 08/10/2013 Manchester, England Oklahoma City Thunder 103, Philadelphia 76ers 99 Game-day in Manchester The graph illustrates much the same story as the  NBA London game from January; little conversation until the game day and little continued engagement post event. The above conversation analysis shows mentions of @OKCThunder, @Sixers and  #NBAManchester in the UK from 24th September 2013 until October 22d 2014.
  17. 17. New Audiences Learnings from 2013 Events •  Devoted NBA fans are the holy grail. Make sure they know how valued they are at all times •  Devoted fans will likely be the most vocal – this is a great opportunity for advocacy, however, if something goes wrong (e.g. ticketing in Manchester) then devoted fans will probably be the most critical •  Our analysis shows more needs to be done to create more conversation and excitement before the events and to sustain conversations after the event •  More   needs   be   done   with   influencers   to   help   engage   a   wider   audience   Influencers are a great way to spread a message and keep conversation and engagement going post event. Having worked with a variety of spor ts brands we believe the NBA need do more w i t h l o ca l ( U K & European) influencers. The NBA Manchester game was also marred by a ticketing controversy; with a number of unsold seats in the weeks building up to the event a 2-for-1 deal was offered to fans on Facebook, leaving those die-hard fans who purchased early angry and out-of pocket. One Facebook update about the deal resulted in 50+ comments from disgruntled fans. #NBAUKReport
  18. 18. THE TEAMS By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  19. 19. The Teams Atlanta Hawks This won’t be the Hawks first time in London, they took part in the NBA’s first ever preseason games in London in 1993 with back-to-back games against the Orlando Magic. As the team who gave up their home game for this London event, the Hawks have been the more vocal of the two teams so far and started to build up to London 2014 on media day with this Vine of Al Horford holding up the British flag. Currently the Hawks have 447,995 fans on Facebook of which 2,217 (0.5%) are from the UK. #NBAUKReport
  20. 20. The Teams Brooklyn Nets This will be the  Nets’  third game in London after playing the Miami Heat in a pre-season match in 2008 and taking part in the first regular season games in  the UK with back-to-back games against the Toronto Raptors. The  Nets  have a star-studded line-up this year including  Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce who are the 14th and 20th top scorers in NBA history respectively. In their ranks they also have Olympic gold medallist  Deron Williams, one-time NBA Champion  Jason Terry  and in  Brook Lopez they have one of the league’s top big men. Not to mention their coach – number 2 in the NBA’s all-time assist leaders - Jason Kidd. Currently the Nets have 1,276,508 fans on Facebook of which 5,491 (0.4%) are from the UK. #NBAUKReport
  21. 21. Share of Voice 1%   1%   1%   1%   1%   1%   1%   0%   0%   1%   1%   1%   2%   2%   2%   2%   Atlanta Hawks 2% share of voice Miami Heat 31% share of voice 2%   31%   2%   2%   2%   Both teams coming over in January have a huge opportunity to grow their fan bases throughout the UK as highlighted by this share of voice analysis. 2%   2%   3%   Brooklyn Nets 4% share of voice 3%   10%   4%   4%   5%   New York Knicks 4% share of voice 10%   Boston Celtics 5% share of voice Los Angles Lakers 10% share of voice San Antonio Spurs 10% share of voice The Nets are sitting sixth out of the 30 NBA teams with a 4% share of UK conversation and the Hawks are tenth with 2% of UK conversation. This analysis measures the mentions of all NBA teams and shows which are being talked about most in the UK over the last 90 days.
  22. 22. Engaging Audiences Through Social Ranking NBA Social Media Leaderboard The Hawks and Nets sit 15th and 9th respectively. The Nets added 29,940 Facebook fans and 3,804 Twitter followers over the past week. The Hawks added 10,363 Facebook fans and 1,664 Twitter Followers* *Correct as of 12th November 2013. Next leaderboard is released 19th November 2013. View the Leaderboard… How is the We Play score calculated? The We Play score is a calculated by the percentage increase of a teams' Facebook and Twitter fan bases in the past 7 days. #NBAUKReport
  23. 23. NEW AUDIENCES By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  24. 24. New Audiences The Global Games provide the NBA with huge opportunity to reach new audiences and engage occasional fans. Previously the NBA has reached new audiences through engaging with celebrities; such as James Cordon and Jack Whitehall who took part in a halftime free throw competition during the Pistons v Knicks game for Sky1 TV show A League of Their Own. The NBA have also looked to reach out to pre-existing fan bases from other sports. For example, NBA UK created a post to pit Manchester United vs Manchester City using Oklahoma City Thunder stars Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka. #NBAUKReport
  25. 25. Do You Have a Clear Roadmap to Success? Roadmap to Success Month November December January February Objectives Analysis Brand awareness PR Pickup Advocacy Engagement Sign ups Increased Reach Sign-ups Engagement Post event advocacy Activity Full NBA, Hawks and Nets Fan Analysis Launch Engagement Leaderboard NBA London Event Post Event Advocacy Campaign Day to Day Activity View Content Calendar View Content Calendar View Content Calendar View Content Calendar Milestones* Full analysis and strategy in place 100,000 fans Increase positive mentions from devoted fans by 20% 150,000 fans Increase year-on-year engagement and reach from event by 30% 175,000 fans This is an example roadmap for the NBA in the build up to and after the event in January. Day to day activity would be managed via a content calendar. *Milestones would be identified and agreed after a full analysis had been completed. #NBAUKReport
  26. 26. New Audiences Influencer outreach will help the NBA reach and engage Devoted, Engaged and Occasional fans NBA’s message Celebrity/Org Press & Media Fan Communities Devoted and Engaged Fans All Fans The NBA and the Hawks and Nets need to be looking to engage with influencers in the build up to, during and after the event in January. Influencer outreach will allow the NBA and teams to reach devoted, engaged and occasional fans.
  27. 27. New Audiences Advocacy Devoted fans need be identified and advocacy programmes put in place to spread the NBA’s message via word of mouth. Advocacy programmes would encourage devoted fans to spread the message and co-create content in exchange for a reward. Trigger Action Reward Any advocacy programme would include a trigger to motivate the devoted fans to take action and be followed by a reward of some kind. A reward could come as the potential to win a prize, exclusive content or even something as simple as a re-tweet from NBA accounts.   By turning devoted fans into advocates the NBA could increase their reach via positive messaging from fan to fan, rather than a message direct from the brand to fan. People like to engage with people and word of mouth is more likely to reach and engage occasional fans than a message broadcast by the brand itself. By turning devoted fans into advocates the NBA could increase their reach via positive messaging from fan to fan, rather than a message direct from the brand to fan. #NBAUKReport
  28. 28. New Audiences Spreading the Message on Game-day The Hawks v Nets game sold out in record time, so it may appear the job here is done. However, with an audience of 20,000 in attendance in January, our research shows the NBA needs to get the fans in attendance to share their experience across social channels to increase conversations and engage those fans that aren’t lucky enough to be there. Our research shows the NBA needs to get t h e f a n s i n attendance to share their experience across social channels to increase conversations and engage those fans that aren’t lucky enough to be there. Through those in attendance the NBA and teams will be able to reach a large audience of occasional fans, engage them in the action and get them dancing to their tune if the fans are not even at the party. #NBAUKReport
  29. 29. CREATING LEGACY By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  30. 30. Creating Legacy NBA teams have been playing games in the UK for a number of years now, and with all events at the O2 selling out since 2007, it paints a great picture, but as an devoted NBA fan I feel no team has fully Taken advantage of the opportunity presented to them in the UK. As a Detroit Pistons fan, it was great to see the team I’ve supported for over 10 years play for the first time in January this year – but in terms of reaching new fans and leaving a legacy, it seemed like the  Pistons (and  Knicks) missed an opportunity and didn’t seem to have long term objectives in mind. #NBAUKReport
  31. 31. Creating Legacy Pistons and Knicks Missed Opportunities: •  In the build up to, during and after the event there were no real calls to action to follow either team on social media •  The Pistons gave up a home game for the event, yet the Knicks were clearly the most popular team in the arena – could the Pistons have reached out to fans in the months building up to the event and tried to make it feel like a home game? •  Neither team made a lasting impression on the UK fan base #NBAUKReport
  32. 32. Creating Legacy Looking Ahead With around three months left until the NBA London event now is the time to start building relationships with influencers and fans in the UK. It’s no longer enough just to put out good content –  even great content won’t always stand out – over the coming months the  Hawks  and  Nets  have to create context. Turning up, producing content and leaving won’t create lasting results. The groundwork needs to be done now. This may be only one game from an 82 game season for both teams, but it’s a  one off opportunity  to extend their fan base in a new, valuable market. Last year I wrote a post about how the  Nets took over Brooklyn  - and a similar fan centric, humble and human approach, allbe-it on a smaller scale, c o u l d s e e the Hawks and Nets  creating a lasting legacy and fan base across the UK. #NBAUKReport
  33. 33. Creating Legacy Why Does This Matter? Why is it important that the Nets, Hawks and NBA care about social media, fan bases and creating a legacy from the NBA London event? From a  community  and  growing the game  point of view, there’s an opportunity to inspire a generation of young basketball players in London and across the UK. Basketball is the second highest participation sport amongst 11-15 year-olds over here and this event can help to inspire the youngsters to continue playing the sport, and influence them to grow up as NBA fans.  From a commercial point of view building an engaged fan base creates additional revenue opportunities for the  NBA,  Hawks  and Nets. The UK event also creates opportunities for NBA partners and sponsors to engage with a UK fan base Basketball is the second highest participation sport amongst 11-15 year-olds over here and this event can help to inspire the youngsters to continue playing the sport, and influence them to grow up as NBA fans.  #NBAUKReport
  34. 34. TRACKING REVENUE AND ROI By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  35. 35. How do you track revenue and ROI from social media? This is the $1million question. #NBAUKReport
  36. 36. Revenue and ROI 36 Initiative Fan Evolution Benchmarks Process Key Performance Indicator Occasional Brand Awareness No. of people reached: •  Impressions/PR coverage •  Likes/Follows/Subscribers •  Post engagement Focus on Reach Growth Growing Audience Engaged Lead Generation Focus on converting conversations Engagement Growth No. of people that converted •  Site/Newsletter Signups •  Retention •  Transactions •  Product downloads Devoted Advocacy Advocacy campaigns Activity = Engagement No. of advocates/fans •  Co-created content •  Contributions •  Influencers turned advocates Using our Fan Evolution model we’ve created a set of benchmarks for measuring KPIs in relation to each level of fandom: occasional, engaged and devoted.
  37. 37. Revenue and ROI Fan Evolution Benchmarks At the occasional level measurement is all about reach; we want to reach as many occasional fans as possible, through the multitude of platforms at our disposal. As these fans become engaged and move from occasional to engaged the NBA would be capturing data allowing them to market to the fans in different ways and move them along their sales funnel. At the engaged stages, fans will become customers and be more open to receiving marketing messages for e-commerce opportunities (NBA Europe Store) and digital products (NBA League Pass). As fans become engaged and move from occasional to engaged the NBA need to be capturing data from the fans, allowing them to market to the fans in different ways and move them along their sales funnel. As we touched on earlier, at the devoted fan level we’re looking to create advocates and devoted fans. Our model shows these fans will be measured by the number of fans who have become advocates and also the transactions and product sales used to measure engaged fan ROI. #NBAUKReport
  38. 38. Revenue and ROI Tracking and Measurement •  Working with a number of sports brands, we understand the importance of tracking and measurement when it comes to showing ROI •  Social measurement and tracking is key to keeping track of the fan evolution benchmarks and monitoring the success of the overall social strategy Social measurement and tracking will be key to keeping track of the fan evolution benchmarks and monitoring the success of the overall social strategy. •  In order to identify devoted fans it’s important to track which fans, bloggers, organisations have the most influence over the rest of your audience •  It’s essential to measure the growth and engagement metrics used as benchmarks for occasional fans. #NBAUKReport
  39. 39. Revenue and ROI Opportunities for Partners The NBA has numerous partners both globally and locally. By building an engaged fan base the NBA creates added opportunities for partners to maximise their deals with the organisation.   An engaged fan base creates more opportunities for partners to connect with NBA fans and increase the ROI of their deal with the NBA. #NBAUKReport
  40. 40. CONCLUSION By Ash Read (@AshRead14)
  41. 41. Conclusion Believe it or not, social media is not all about likes, re-tweets and the number of fans or followers you have. Just like any other form of marketing and communication, social media is just another medium for achieving business goals. The challenges we’ve discussed in this report are real challenges faced by the NBA, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets, and what we’ve tried to do is highlight how social media can help them achieve these challenges and generate revenue. B e t we e n n ow a n d January 2014 there’s a huge opportunity to get the ball rolling over in the UK; to make sure a lasting impression is left from the Global Game in London. #NBAUKReport
  42. 42. Join the Discussion Thanks for taking the time to read the NBA UK Challenges, Opportunities and Social Media ROI report. If you’d like to share your thoughts on the report or have any questions please tweet @Ashread14 or @WePlayCo using #NBAUKReport. We mean ANY questions, as we’d love to hear your thoughts and continue the conversation.   You can also email Ash with any thoughts and feedback on #NBAUKReport
  43. 43. About the Author CHALLENGES OPPORTUNTIES AND SOCIAL MEDIA ROI By Ash Read Ash Read is a social media strategist, community manager and writer, who enjoys building communities and creating meaningful connections between people and brands. He's passionate about sports, music and the intersection of business, technology, culture and digital content. He’s a Detroit Pistons and Ipswich Town FC fan. Follow Ash on Twitter: @AshRead14 Copyright & Disclaimer You are free to use quotes from this report on your website or blog, as long as you link back to for attribution. All other rights are reserved. #NBAUKReport
  44. 44. About We Play! We are a relationships agency obsessed with sport, performance marketing and the behaviors only seen with sport fans. We approach social media with the expertise of knowing every brand can create their own loyal and transacting fan base!
  45. 45. Meet the Team Name: Daniel Mclaren Role: Account Director Name: Ash Read Role: Account Manager Name: Luca Massaro Role: Founder Name: Saf Hossain Role: Social Media Executive Name: Charlotte Males Role: Social Media Executive
  46. 46. We work with some of the world’s best known brands
  47. 47. The world is evolving and your fans expect more
  48. 48. Our Technology Leaderboarded StoryStream Most Valuable Player Social media leaderboards used for engaging current fans, monitoring competitors and empowering new audiences Online content curation and publishing tool used to amplify fan engagement before, during and after live events MVP empowers better decision making by showing social analytics, player performance and revenue data all in one place
  49. 49. Empower any community with a real time engagement and monitoring dashboard
  50. 50. Story Stream StoryStream is an online content curation and publishing tool used to amplify fan engagement before, during and after live events + Commercial Content Automatically find relevant social media content from your event audience in real-time, all in one place Website + Big Screen Add your own commercial messages and content, all via an intuitive, easy to use online CMS. Publish to a fully branded destination which can be part of your website and/ or used on big screens around the event.
  51. 51. Most Valuable Player •  Social media listening tool tracking brand and player performance •  Revenue and merchandise tracker •  Performance tracking via OPTA •  Ranking system of all 3482 players across top 5 European Leagues •  Annotate key events •  Export data into easy to digest format The first of it’s kind to correlate social media data, player performance data and revenue data in one place
  52. 52. The No. 1 Sports Social Media Agency