Golden State Warriors Ramp Up Their Social Media Game - 20 November 2015

Winning the NBA championship put the Golden State Warriors center court on social media and they’re shifting into high gear to leap through bigger hoops this season.

“Our Facebook following will grow rapidly,” said Jeremy Thum, Sr. Director of Digital Experience for the Warriors, speaking to Berkeley students and members of social media group (Social Media Breakfast East Bay) on Wednesday, November 18th. He said the Warriors already have the most engagement over Facebook within the league and that weighs heavily in building their audience. The volume of comments, shares and views a post receives is gold in rising to the top of the feed within Facebook’s algorithms.

Thum and his social team knew they had a slam dunk opportunity opening night in October when Stephen Curry scored 24 points in the first quarter. They tapped into new replay technology made available in 2015 through an NBA partnership with an Israeli company (Replay Technologies) that allowed them to cut up every basket Curry scored into a 40 second video and post immediately. It was quickly shared over 50,000 times and reached over 18 million people — something digital marketers call the ‘viral multiplier’.

To score big on Facebook, you have to understand your followers more deeply than ever before and Thum spends a big chunk of his time studying the numbers and the Warriors’ fan base which is global. “How we improve everything is based on an optimization cycle and at the top is insights,” Thum said.

Of their 4.8 million Facebook fans, the highest number actually comes from the Philippines — 1.7 million fans — second to the United States with 1.4 million fans. They leveraged that knowledge when they hosted Filipino Heritage Night earlier this month at Oracle Arena by translating Facebook posts for their international viewers. The Warriors were also the first team in NBA history to wear shooting shirts in celebration of Filipino heritage — shirts they made available in their team store.

Thum, who used to work for the Chicago Bulls, walked into his Warriors gig just as they moved into the championship. He had to shift into high gear on day one. His position opened up when his digital predecessor moved on to become the new head of Strategic Partner Development for Sports Teams with Facebook. While it helps to have a strong relationship in Silicon Valley, Thum has his work cut out for him in his new role. He’s in charge of mobile, social media, email and web for the Warriors. One thing he learned is app viewers like reads in 60 second snippets, so they started creating more condensed content on their news feed.

Berkeley students listened eagerly and then took to the microphone to offer up their own insights using analytics tools from IBM Watson supplied through Daryl Pereira, Media and Communications Manager for IBM, also in attendance. As part of their research, the students took a look at the Warriors top two players’ Twitter streams — Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala.

  • Steph is “more of an exciting guy” the students shared. He uses a lot of exclamation points (!) and is characterized as a responsible person. Andre is more entertaining and contemplative. He doesn’t use exclamation points as often and uses elipses (…). Steph loves visual impact with photos and videos — always expresses gratefulness for faith and family while Andre is supportive of fellow team members and is quite keen on social commentary.
  • Thum found that interesting as Curry (2014–15 NBA Most Valuable Player) certainly has earned a reputation as being humble and passing accoldades on to his teammates. “My takeaway is maybe that’s not coming across quite as much,” said Thum. Curry has a tall order on Twitter including ‘endorsing his endorsements’ as the students described it. The Warriors’ representatives said the students were spot on with many of their findings.
  • “You talk about Andre being contemplative,” said Kenny Lauer, VP of Digital and Marketing for the Warriors…” “We were [discussing] a whole video series on the mind of Andre because he’s an interesting guy — the way he thinks and what he comments on.”

When it comes to overall personalities, the team is successfully showing its personal side according to the data studied by the Berkeley students. The Golden State Warriors are seen around the NBA league as pioneers in all things digital and are working non-stop to expand on that. You can watch the full replay of the Berkeley presentation here on Periscope — and engage with some of the same IBM Watson tools used by the Berkeley students through Bluemix.

Article initially published on on 20 November 2015. Author is Dianne Harrigan