How Social Engagement Changed during the NBA Finals

Published on Jun 23rd, 2016

by Jack Weinstein

The Cleveland Cavaliers may be NBA Champions, but it took an improved performance on the court before they started to overtake the Golden State Warriors on social media.

Engagement and Top Posts

The Warriors generated 35.6 million total actions (likes, comments and shares) from June 2 to 20, when Game 1 was played until a day after the Finals ended. That’s 41% more engagement than the Cavs, who captured 24.5 million actions during the series. But as you can see, the Cavs captured more actions June 14, 17 and 20—all games they won to erase a 3-1 series deficit to win their first NBA championship.

The NBA, the most-engaged sports league in Q1 2016 , still generated more engagement than both Finals participants. The league captured 68.5 million social actions during the seven-game series.

In addition to regaining the social engagement lead as the series continued, the Cavs also published the most-engaged post of the series after they won Game 7.

Prior to that post, the Warriors published the most engaged posts of the series. The Warriors’ posts celebrating their Game 2 victory, taking the series lead 2-0 , and recognizing the team’s 3-1 series lead after Game 4 , were the most-engaged until the Cavs’ post after Game 7.

The NBA’s most-engaged post recognized NBA Finals MVP Lebron James .

Social Amplification

Another indicator of how much the conversation on social shifted as the Cavs fought back from a series deficit to win the final three games is social amplification (the sum of Facebook shares and Twitter retweets). Social amplification is so important because it exposes your messaging to a wider audience and generates more impressions for your brand.

The Warriors dominated social amplification during games 1, 2 and 4, which they won. They even generated more amplification than the NBA during those games. During the Cavs’ Game 3 and Game 5 victories, the NBA led amplification. But after Game 6, which the Cavs won 114-101, they generated more social amplification than the Warriors and the NBA. And after they won the title, the Cavs' social amplification skyrocketed.

Shares and retweets accounted for 24% of the Cavs’ total Facebook and Twitter engagement (1.3 million actions) during and after Game 7.

Social Video and Instagram

Engagement from video content also peaked after Game 7 with the NBA edging the Cavs 1.6 million actions to 1.45 million actions. The NBA’s social strategy emphasizes video , but the Cavs posted the most-engaged video of the Finals, a Facebook Live clip of the Cavs’ locker room celebration that generated nearly 600,000 actions and 6.5 million views.

When it comes to Instagram, neither team could challenge the league. The NBA generated 73% of its engagement on the platform. It also published the 55 most-engaged Instagram posts during the Finals, including a video of Cavs’ point guard Kyrie Irving shooting what would be the game-winning shot . The post generated more than 420,000 actions and 1.9 million views.

Wondering which branded post came out on top during the Finals? That would be Beats By Dre’s video congratulating James, whom the brand sponsors, on his Finals MVP award. The video generated more than 150,000 actions and 4.4 million views since it was posted late Sunday night.

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