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On October 25th, the NBA kicked off the 71st regular season on our tv screens and in our news feed. Last season was nothing short of excitement, thrill and surprises.

The Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tim Duncan announced his retirement after playing 19 seasons, Derrick Rose got traded to the Knicks while the Bulls acquired Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo, and Kevin Durant left OKC to join the Warriors “super team.”

Those are only some of the NBA’s top storylines, all of which were major topics of conversation on social media. Social media is a powerful tool and the National Basketball Association knows that. The teams and players have embraced social media to keep fans informed, engaged and entertained.

In fact, the NBA is the first professional sports league to surpass one billion social media likes and followers. Furthermore, the NBA was also the first professional sports league to include its social media handle (@NBA) on its official game ball before the start of the 2014-15 season.

The NBA is thriving on social media in ways that other sports leagues have yet to accomplish. Here’s how.

1. Accessible and Engaging Content

With 82 games in the NBA season, there is constant basketball being played every day. Each game consists of top plays and breathtaking moments. At any given time, a player could stop on a dime and drain a jump shot, execute the smoothest crossover or produce the nicest dunk.

Every play has the potential to make history and the NBA does a great job of capturing these moments in short clips and sharing them for the world to watch and replay again and again.

Take the Los Angeles Clippers, for example. The team is currently at the top of the NBA standings and making spectacular plays while dominating.

A video posted by LA Clippers (@laclippers) on

The Clippers official Instagram account incorporates an emoji and short copy, letting the dunks do the talking.

The high-definition capture of the dunks captivate users to comment and hit the like button. With accessibility to the internet, fans are able to watch this video anywhere at any time.

The NBA also utilizes GIFs to attract users, and more specifically, their fans. The GIFs are usually humorous, entertaining and most of all, relevant.

The “dabbing” phenomenon spread like wildfire on social media and the Cleveland Cavaliers cleverly captured their star player celebrating in style. The Cavs are doing it “for the culture,” as millennials would say.

2. Connecting with fans

NBA teams do a stellar job of recognizing and connecting to their fans. They do this by retweeting fans tweets on to their timeline. It’s especially easier to find fans tweets when the organization’s hashtag is used. The team simply clicks on the hashtag and all tweets with that hashtag appear on their feed.

The Chicago Bulls retweeted this fan tweet on to their timeline. The copy and the photo of the little girl gives the “aww” factor while showing that #BullsNation comprises of all age ranges. Start ’em young, right?!

As seen above, the San Antonio Spurs showcase recognition by sharing a GIF of their fans celebrating a Spurs win. When your favorite team gets the W, you can’t help but to celebrate and dance! Spurs fans are a testament to that.

3. Producing a sense of identity for the teams and players

NBA teams and players work hard on the court but still show us that they like to have fun. Social media blew up when the Cavs visited the White House and did the popular “mannequin challenge” with Michelle Obama. The Cavaliers sure do know how to keep up with all the trends!

Players also individually take to social media to post their own photos and videos. Russell Westbrook is one of the top 10 NBA players across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Once Durant left OKC, Westbrook ensured Thunder fans that he is there to stay and he is there to lead. The video below uniquely markets the Jordan Brand while showcasing Thunder fans and their slick dance moves. Because #WhyNot?

Fans are able to tap into players and teams personalities on social media, forming a deeper connection not only to the sport, but to their personal lives.

The NBA has taken full advantage of social media by using videos, GIFs, and catering to/interacting with their fans. They keep the fans entertained and coming back for more, season after season. Do you implement any of these content strategies into your social media game?

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