A new study by Adobe Digital Index (ADI) points to a direct connection between social buzz and the value of a sports team’s brand.
According to 7 million social mentions related to the National Basketball Association—captured from blogs, Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, Dailymotion, Flickr, Instagram, Tumblr, VK, Disqus, Foursquare, Metacafe, Wordpress, and YouTube—social buzz for the Cleveland Cavaliers is 37 times higher this year than last year after LeBron James re-signed with Cleveland. What’s more, international share of social buzz has nearly doubled for the Cavs and been cut in half for the Miami Heat, from 40% during the NBA finals earlier this year to 27% recently.
Marketers should take note, said Tamara Gaffney, principal at ADI.
“The story for marketers is that just as the value of a sports team or its players goes up based on an increased amount of social media chatter, the value of a brand goes up when the social audience gets bigger and the buzz gets stronger,” Gaffney said. “This is a very clear example of how much digital marketing and social media, especially, impact the value of a brand and its products.”
LeBron’s positive impact on the Cavaliers’ social buzz, Gaffney said, could also foreshadow a day when marketers will be evaluated for jobs based on their social reach and influence. Recruiting and hiring executives that have a large following could help brands better position themselves as thought leaders.
According to ADI, LeBron is the most-mentioned NBA player of the top 10 ranked players, according to SI.com, and the Cavaliers are the most-mentioned team in the NBA. What’s interesting is that 49% of the buzz for LeBron, Gaffney said, is coming from outside the United States, which is higher than any other SI.com top 10 ranked player.
“The marketing angle here is that it is incredibly valuable to expand internationally, and it has been increasingly happening in various professional sports, such as the NFL,” Gaffney said. “Part of the reason for the increased international appeal of these American sports is simply access. Digital video is more accessible today, and people can watch NBA games in other countries now.”
According to ADI, the NBA is the most international U.S professional league, with 39% of geotagged social buzz coming from outside the U.S. This number is higher than the NFL (21%) and MLB (24%).
In terms of team buzz, the San Antonio Spurs are seeing 52% of their buzz coming from outside the U.S. According to Joe Martin, an analyst at ADI, that’s probably because the Spurs have the most international players on its team.
In terms of sentiment, 54% of buzz about NBA relates to joy, admiration, or anticipation, compared with 45% for NFL and 52% for MLB. Social buzz sentiment for LeBron is equally adoring globally and domestically, with the majority of buzz in the United States (60%) and outside of the United States (65%) relating to joy, admiration, or anticipation.
“The social media impact of NBA teams is huge. You can see that when you watch a big player, such as LeBron, move from one team to another and totally drive a different footprint, which is part of the value of the team,” Gaffney explained. “The social media waves are moving toward the Cavaliers, pointing out the importance of social buzz for marketers.”
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Adobe Digital Insights publishes research on digital marketing and other topics of interest to senior marketing and e-commerce executives across industries. Research is based on the analysis of select, anonymous, and aggregated data from more than 5,000 companies worldwide that use the Adobe Digital Marketing Cloud to obtain real-time data and analysis of activity on websites, social media, and advertising.
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