The National Basketball Association, better known as the NBA, has become one of the most popular professional sports leagues to watch. Since 1997, the league has seen a 30% increase in viewers watching games, interviews, talk shows and TV shows on the sport. They have also seen a global increase in their sport with a quarter of players being born outside of the U.S. The NBA has used social media to reach fans in China, Europa, India and other untapped markets with tremendous potential.
The NBA has always been the first league to set trends in social media marketing, user engagement and return on investment for fans all across the world. Knowing which social media channels will allow you to reach your prospective students with the right message helps you qualify right-fit potential students. In a market that always sees new trends and changes in the marketplace, university leaders must be willing to listen to their audience and evolve their marketing strategies to achieve a status beyond the norm for their brand. Here are some success stories and lessons from the NBA that higher ed should consider.
Portland Trail Blazers Use Data to Optimize Facebook Advertising Strategies
The Portland Trail Blazers developed a Facebook retargeting strategy to target their ads to users at specific times based on their interests and points of engagement with the team. They wanted to find out which loyal fans were actively seeking their content and what exactly they were looking for from their organization. The results of this campaign were a 21x return on ad spend.
Cleveland Cavaliers turn Scoreboard into Alternate Reality App Game
During the 2017 NBA finals, the Cavalier organization developed an app that allowed fans at home games to shoot at hoops embedded into the stadium. This created a buzz and turned the app into a trigger graphic where fans could compete against each other during stoppages of play. This social AR experience engaged fans in a unique way, allowing the Cavs to give away promotions to winners of the game and boost affinity for their brand.
Golden State Warriors Increase Revenue by 300% with New Digital Strategies & Partnerships
The Warriors have been the NBA’s most dominant team for the past three seasons, both on and off the court. The team partnered with Rebel Ventures to see how the marketplace was buying and valuing content relevant to their brand and community. The results have been eye-opening with more than 600 million engagements across all channels last year. The only sports franchises in the world with more user engagements were soccer clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. The team now has 29 million followers on their social media channels.
The team has also partnered with Relator.com to focus on new digital content strategies that enhance both brands. They put Warriors forward, Draymond Green, in a commercial as a real estate agent to connect NBA fans with their content. The video saw great success with more than a million views across different social channels.
These two partnerships have helped the Warriors go from a company worth $350 million in 2010 to 3.1 billion and counting in 2018. The Warriors are a perfect example of adapting to the marketplace and giving engaged users content that will resonate with their fan base.
What does this mean for higher ed?
Digital is the common thread among these three NBA success stories. These teams designed high-impact content and leveraged digital channels to connect with fans where they spend the most time online, and it’s working.
Engaging a user throughout the higher education consumer lifecycle—from prospect to student to alumni—is no easy feat. It is critical for colleges and universities to effectively position their brands and content to standout in a crowded marketplace. Aligning your institution with brands that have the same value proposition as your prospective students will create opportunities for all parties involved. Presenting your school’s core pillars and values in a way that matches a student’s beliefs and interests is a simple (but often underutilized) way to create a connection between your school and prospective student.
The NBA’s forward-thinking business model has propelled them into the number one spot of best-run sports organizations. They have demonstrated a great understanding of how to engage with their fans, where they are viewing their content and how positioning themselves with brands that explain their core values.
Launching a gaming app or AR/VR experience for students? Excited about how your campaigns are performing on Facebook or Snapchat? Tweet us your results @convergeorg. We would love to hear what’s working best for you in the digital space.