The Winners and Losers of the 2013 NBA Season


Peter Claridge

August 8, 2014 4 min read

Updated on September 18, 2019

Is it that time of year again? Yes, one year ago Unmetric revealed its first ever infographic, coinciding with the NBA playoffs, it found that Los Angeles Lakers ruled the social world of the NBA with the Miami Heat in second place. 12 months on, we’ve revisited the study with the 2012-13 data and found that surprisingly, nothing much has changed. LA Lakers rule over Facebook and brought their A game to Twitter to move up to first position. The Heat are second on both Facebook and Twitter.

Alright, so technically, the Heat won the championship. But who were the social media winners and losers of the 2012-13 NBA season?

Across the board we saw a change in focus for all the teams. The 2011-12 season was all about growth, where some teams were experiencing 100%+ growth. This season, growth was more muted. However, the focus seems to have shifted to engaging all those fans.

Most teams managed to at least double their engagement rates, but the big standout was Golden State Warriors. Maybe being located in Facebook’s backyard and the land of the techies had something to do with it (or perhaps just Chamath Palihapitiya), but the Warriors had five times the engagement in 2013 compared to 2012. Impressive!

On the other end of the scale, it looks like Orlando Magic could do with a helping hand from their super successful Florida cousins. Orlando, by some incalculable effort, managed to score lower engagement this season than last season. Finally, spare a thought for the Cleveland Cavs. They doubled up on their fan engagement but it still wasn’t enough to drag them out of last place. Promoted posts, guys.

This season saw an incredible increase in the amount of content the teams pushed out across Facebook and Twitter. In 2012, the teams posted 15,725 updates, in 2013 this increased to 22,340, a 45% increase. Leading the micro-content charge on Facebook was the Memphis Grizzlies, they ramped up from 681 posts last season to 2,113 posts this season, a crazy 210% increase. But was it all in vain? Perhaps. Their Engagement Score only increased from 12 to 14, that’s a lot of effort for very little return. Again. Promoted posts, guys.

Of the teams that decided that less is more, Phoenix Suns reduced their micro content output by 32%. The result? A small uptick in their Engagement Score from 17 to 23.

The focus of the increase in micro-content can be traced using the content strategies of the teams on Facebook. This season, teams really pushed player related news and updates, like an 679%-increase-in-posts-pushed-it. Also seeing a massive increase was engagement orientated posts. These are a little bit hard to define but we’ve all seen them, they usually end with “hit LIKE if you agree” or “I love basketball because ______”. Engagement orientated posts certainly do their job well because out of all the post categories they were the most engaging type of post. On average, each engagement orientated post got an Engagement Score of 200.

One new type of content we saw on Facebook was the introduction of live score updates throughout the games. Facebook isn’t widely recognized as being an up to the minute news platform, but fans seemed to love getting the score updates directly in to their newsfeed.

Sidenote: Hmm, seems to me that Facebook need to tie up with the NBA, NFL, MLB & MLS to get live scores published on the newsfeeds of people who want it.

Over on Twitter, there has been an equally spectacular explosion in the amount of micro-content being put out there, a 65% increase to be exact. Throughout the season, the NBA teams made nearly 120,000 tweets between them, up from 72,000 last season.

Once again, it was the Memphis Grizzlies charging ahead with a huge increase in the amount of tweets. The Grizzlies tweeted 190% more this season compared to last season and most of those tweets were proactive rather than retweets or replies.

In terms of community building, NBA teams have been far more reticent this season compared to last season. Despite a 65% increase in tweets, these were nearly all proactive, replies to followers plummeted by 50% from 14,800 to 7,300. In terms of raw numbers it was the Brooklyn Nets that registered the biggest drop in replies, from 9,000 to 1,500, but that was largely due to the auto replies the handle was doing in the last season. In terms of percentages, it was the New Orleans Pelicans that dropped the post, the team replied to 93% less tweets compared to the last season.

The most improved team at replying to tweets was the Minnesota Timberwolves, they managed to increase the number of replies from 70 last season to 386 this season, a staggering 451% increase. This strategy paid huge dividends with the team being the fast growing team on Twitter, recording a growth rate of 44% for the season. I wish I could get more insight from the social media managers of the various teams as to why they scaled back the number of replies.

There were plenty of winners and losers on social media in the 2013 NBA season, but it just goes to show that having the most fans or the highest engagement doesn’t translate in to points on the board. For that, you need a LeBron James on your team.


All data has been compiled and analyzed from the Unmetric application which tracks over 10,000 brands across 30 sectors on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest to enable brands to benchmark themselves against competitors and their industry sector. Gain access to all this data by claiming a 6 day free trial.

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