As the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat, two teams with intensely loyal fans and standout players, play game 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals, it seems like the perfect time to evaluate their respective performances on a different court: social media. Here are our picks for the inaugural 2011 NBA Social Media Finals:
First Round: Audience
If this were a pure game of numbers, the Miami Heat would win in a blowout. With their 3 million Facebook “likes” and 216,000 Twitter followers dwarfing the Mavs’ 770,000 and 79,000, respectively, there’s not much competition. The Heat also emerge victorious in a hashtag battle: In the last week, #LetsGoHeat has been used 7,949 times in comparison to #LetsGoMavs being used 1,952 times. But at Digital Royalty, we know that cold metrics (likes and follows) are only a part of the equation.
Winner: Miami Heat, plain and simple.
Second Round: Engagement
Like most Facebook Pages with large numbers of subscribers, there is little engagement in the form of comments and post “likes” from the Mavs and Heat. The Heat has instead taken advantage of Facebook polls to stimulate conversation.
However, on Twitter, conversing with fans through retweets, replies and mentions is much easier for both teams. While the Dallas Mavericks mainly retweet accounts associated with their team, The Heat reply to fans’ questions and comments and retweet followers’ content frequently. The Heat also use hashtags more effectively, using #HEATPlayoffs to track conversations on Twitter. The Mavs have dabbled in several different hashtags, making the buzz less trackable.
Winner: Miami Heat
Conference Finals: Content/Value Offering
When it comes to content and delivering value to fans, The Mavs and Heat excel in different areas.
Live Tweeting: Those stuck at work or without access to a television can easily keep up with the game by following The Heat’s Twitter stream. The tweets are not only fast-paced and informative, but portray the excitement of the game. The tweets are categorized with easily identifiable hashtags.
Contests and Offers: If you are observant and participatory enough, you could probably win a free Mavericks-themed wardrobe and free tickets to just about any game through their social media. The team is constantly featuring deals for Mavericks fans at restaurants and businesses as well as contests to win tickets and merchandise. It pays to be a Mavs fan online.
The Heat offer periodic discounts on merchandise and tickets, but nothing as robust as The Mavericks.
Exclusive Content: Both teams offer exclusive content on Facebook and Twitter, with The Heat featuring behind-the-scenes videos and quotes and The Mavs posting podcasts recapping the game.
Commerce: Each team has an iframe-based store on Facebook. While they are both convenient and functional, The Heat’s serves as the Facebook landing page and includes a social stream of tweets, a “Like” button and even addresses you by name. Kind of creepy, kind of awesome. The overall design is cleaner and more user-friendly.
Winner: Tie. The Mavericks would have taken it if it weren’t for the avatar generator I just came across on The Heat’s Facebook page.
Finals: Social MVP’s
To fans, players are the team brand. Being able to connect with a favorite athlete increases fan affinity as well as desire to attend games, buy merchandise and become a brand loyalist.
The standout social media players on The Heat and The Mavs, respectively, are Dwyane Wade and Shawn Marion. Their tweet styles are as distinct as they are different. Wade is a Twitter professional – an eloquent tweeter, UberSocial user and fervent believer in hashtags. It’s not surprising he has more than 1.2 million followers. His tweets are often exclusive and always chockfull of interesting content.
Marion, in contrast, is a spur-of-the-moment tweeter, consistently tweeting personal thoughts from “Step Brothers” quotes to daily good morning tweets and sock TwitPics, conversing with his 75,000 fans, and shunning common English mechanics to create a personal, unrefined voice all his own.
Winner: Shawn Marion (Dallas Mavericks). His breezy style and endearing potpourri of personal content gives him a slight edge over Wade’s quality, yet sometimes ‘salesy’ tweets.
Bonus points also go to the Mavs for a stellar performance from owner Mark Cuban. The social media savvy Cuban is a frequent tweeter, blogger and commentator of all media. His authenticity is undeniable and refreshing. Plus, he has his own Facebook game called “BattleBall.” Cool.
Champion: Miami Heat
Both teams have well-executed social media campaigns, but overall, the Heat edge out the Mavs by going above and beyond standard online presence and community engagement. From their comprehensive e-commerce Facebook tab to captivating live tweeting of games, The Heat has improved since last year. In a league that stands out in the social media world, teams and players have to actually engage in order to stand out themselves. The Heat have prevailed during their moment in the spotlight.