Inside Look: The 2012 NBA Finals and Social Media

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The 2012 NBA Finals begin today between the Miami Heat and Oklaoma City Thunder and don’t be surprised if the ‘tweets per second world record’ is broken (the NBA finals has occupied this title before).

Whether you’re a hoops fan or not (for the record, I am a HUGE hoops fan), there is a lot to keep your eye on from a social media activation perspective. While a lot of focus will rightly be on the players and the things they’ll be saying via Twitter in particular, I think the most interesting activity is being delivered the league itself.

The NBA has recognised that if they give basketball fans the right tools, they will convey the excitement to potential new fans better than they ever will. It is an important lesson for all organisations, while you might be active in the right places, are you giving people the assets they crave to participate meaningfully? Are you making it easy for them to be your biggest advocates?

A round-up of the 2012 NBA Finals social media toolkit

The NBA teams up with Shaker App to serve up a new type of virtual viewing party

Shaker App is one of the more interesting platforms launched in the last 12 months. It is a tool that creates ‘venues’ online which play host to events where real people interact with each other based on Facebook profiles and data.

The NBA has tamed up with Shaker to create a ‘court’ that opens two hours before each game where fans can test their NBA knowledge for a chance to win Heat and Thunder jerseys, chat with friends, meet NBA fans, and watch Playoff highlights on a virtual court within Facebook.

It will be interesting to see how many fans ‘physically’ turn up to the first event and whether or not they talk fondly of the experience via social channels over the next few days. No matter what, it is definitely different and definitely one to watch. Fans can RSVP for the NBA Finals @Shaker via Facebook.

Social Spotlight puts the world’s best NBA tweets on display

As mentioned up top, the NBA is no stranger to HUGE amounts of Twitter buzz, so it makes sense to make the best content as visible as possible.

The NBA’s homepage is serving this up on two fronts:

The best official NBA tweets and photos (from players, broadcasters etc)
The best fan tweets and photos (sponsored by Bacardi)

Again, it is a great example of making it easy for anyone, no matter their social media experience, to get a feel for the widespread buzz being generated.

The other major bit of Twitter integration featured on the NBA.com homepage is The Finals Pulse which serves up real-time trend information regarding payer mentions. As you’d expect, overall mentions peak during the game, especially is crucial situations.

The Heat’s biggest name, LeBron James is currently averaging 790 mentions per hour but expect that to explode come tip-off.

For an in-depth look at the individual player performance of both teams on Twitter, check out this infographic from the team at Kred.

The NBA Courtside App

‘Second Screens’ are a popular topic at the moment as we all get to grips with the change in behaviour resulting from experiencing the ‘main event’ on our standard TV sets while delving deeper into the action via our mobile or tablet at the same time.

In essence, our secondary device gives us access to data and insights when we want as opposed to when the broadcaster decides. Interactive TV functionality has attempted to meet this need in the past but with varying degrees of success. The NBA Game Time Courtside App is as slick as it gets.

The other thing to look out for is how many people at tonight’s game bring a tablet device with them to watch replays and access insights in real-time. This is a huge shift too.

The NBA Social Media Awards

Finally, the newly launched NBA Social Media Awards are worth a mention as they represent a voting model that may become the standard for other forms of popular culture.

Winners are selected based on a combination of social media shares and mentions, as well as a voting mechanic.

The award categories are apt too, including: The FTW (For The Win) Award, The LOL Awards and The Thumbs Up Award. Winners will be announced on 20 June 2012.

Game on!

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