Social Media Drives Fan Engagement for NBA’s Bobcats
Pictured above: Michael Thompson and Seth Bennett - Charlotte Bobcats, and Kyle Bumgardner - WebsiteBiz
The Charlotte Bobcats use Facebook and Twitter to connect with fans and build community.
The 'Social Network Challenge' asks Bobcats' Facebook fans to sell tickets at a reduced rate for remaining regular season games to friends and family. Participants register on the Bobcats Facebook page and receive a unique link and passcode to be used when selling the tickets via their own social networks.
This campaign reflects commitment to the community, building relationships and engagement through targeted communication. A website revamp last year ignited the space to become more than just a ticket-selling machine. The new goal of the website was to turn Bobcats.com into a marketing hub—a one-stop place for fans to get information, news, tickets and schedules.
With the new emphasis on the online channel, additional resources were brought in to focus on the website, social media and mobile marketing. The top three priorities became the website, Bobcats mobile application and Facebook. The goal of the campaign was simply to increase the number of Facebook fans, with the long-term intent of using Facebook to drive fans to the website. With over 1,000 current participants and 800 of those opting in to receive branded messages, the Bobcats have found a way for social media to work for them.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Seth Bennett, VP of Market Development for the Bobcats, and Michael Thompson, Dir. of Corporate Communications, to discuss their use of social media to engage fans and ultimately boost ticket sales.
Here are the questions and answers from our talk:
Our number one goal is to build a fan base with the intent of more people watching games in our area and across the region. We typically have a 75 mile radius that we consider our primary region for marketing. Although we are pulling that back a little and focusing on a smaller circle, to people that we feel will be more likely to actually attend games, we are leveraging social media to expand our reach.
Our website, Bobcats.com, is intended to be our marketing hub. It's a single destination for people to get Bobcats information, news, tickets, etc. The site was revamped last year to increase volume of content. We are now focused on increasing page views and time spent on the site. Michael (Jordan) came on board and was immediately invested in the web. He understands the Internet's role in connecting with the community. Additionally, we are looking at enhancing video content and learning how social media can help us with our goals. Social media really is the unknown. We don't have a great feel as to how far it can take us. We know it works though, so we are still focusing on our smartphone apps, Facebook and Twitter to engage our fans. The NBA helps teams compare to like-markets, so they give us other teams who they think we are similar to and we can then see what kinds of things they are doing and determine where we fall.
The Social Network Challenge started after a few colleagues attended a Social Media conference in September. They came back with a lot of great ideas and the scary realization that we can't look to social media to immediately drive revenue. We have to look to this channel as a way to slowly build a following and eventually our social media fans will help us. The goal of the Challenge is to increase our Facebook fans; essentially we are incenting them to like us. We want our fans to use our Facebook page as a stepping stone to our website. The Social Media Challenge is reaching people where they are. We're asking people to use the social network of their choice to sell tickets to their friends, helping us reach a much wider audience. We have about 10 prizes people can win through this Challenge, none of which cost us much money. We used resources unique to our organization, such as lunch with players, a chance to walk out with the team and a meeting with Michael Jordan. Our goal was for the Challenge to get us up to 150,000 Facebook fans. So far, we've had over 1,000 people participate and 800 of those have opted in to receive communication from us.
This was a more complicated endeavor for us than what it might have been for another type of organization. It took us about 60 to 70 days to launch the campaign, but we had to deal with our own internal legal process, Facebook rule changes, the Ticketmaster element and with the NBA rules and regulations. We used all in-house development. We have 4 full-time people who are devoted to the interactive channel and a hand-full of interns as well. We are lucky to have talented people who did a great job designing and implementing the Facebook page.
Michael (Jordan) wants us to succeed in social media, so that's our focus right now. We're going to keep monitoring buzz and make real-time adjustments. We know our brand is subject to criticism and we're going to keep trying to play offense and tell people our side of the story. We are going to put an emphasis on talking to the people who care the most about the Bobcats. We understand this is a work-in-progress and are prepared to make alterations as needed.