How the NBA Used Mobile and Social to Engage with Fans

By the Editors

Now is a great time to be a sports fan! The big news this week in the sports world is that the NBA finals and NHL playoffs are happening at the same time. So if you get tired of watching the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins, you can change the channel to catch part of the Spurs and Heat match-up. Typically, the NHL playoffs tend to happen earlier in the year. However, this year is a special case because the hockey season ran later due to the 2012 lockout. The resulting overlap of final NBA and NHL games of the season has caused a bit of a stir in the sports world.

Because the championship games rarely happen at the same time, the NBA has gotten creative with their marketing to try to win over sports fans. Here’s how the NBA has teamed up with Sprint to use mobile marketing and social media to engage with their fans, and here’s what you can learn from their case study.

Sprint wireless partnered with the NBA to create a truly engaging mobile and social experience for basketball fans. During the intense fourth game of the finals, popular basketball star Kevin Love commandeered Sprint’s Twitter account. The #KLoveTakeover (as it was known on Twitter) allowed fans to Twitter chat with the NBA star in real time during the game. It also gave fans exclusive access to Twitter Vine videos, and provided them with the opportunity to ask Kevin Love questions about the NBA finals.

The highly social Twitter campaign was created with mobile in mind. It was designed to engage a specific target audience: younger basketball fans who are active social media users. The theory behind that campaign is that this particular audience was likely to watch the NBA finals on television while following the action on Twitter in real-time. The goal was to create a unique second-screen experience that was truly engaging and exciting and exciting for basketball fans. After all, what basketball fan wouldn’t love the opportunity to chat with one of their favorite NBA players?

To sweeten the deal, Sprint shared an exclusive coupon for those who engaged with Kevin Love on their Twitter account. NBA fans following the game on Twitter gained access to an exclusive $100 discount deal on Sprint’s popular HTC One mobile phone. So not only did basketball enthusiasts get to chat with a pro player, they also received a special incentive on top of that.

The #KLoveTakeover effectively combined mobile and social to engage NBA fans and create value for the target audience through providing them with special incentives. It’s unclear whether the campaign pulled hockey fans away from the television, but the campaign surely got NBA fans talking!