Last week we brought you the first part of our look at social media and the NBA. We explained the sorts of things that explain why even a team that isn’t the best on the court can dominate the social media boards – if you haven’t read it, check it out now.

    Today we bring you the second part of our series and this time it is all about you. No, we don’t think you’re likely to make the step-up to the NBA no matter how good your driveway jump-shot is getting. We’re talking today about how you can learn from the social media strategies of the NBA teams that dominate the social media paint.

    Let’s start by being honest.

    Your business is probably not the billion-dollar concern that the LA Lakers are. Chances are your business isn’t even the half-billion-dollar business that the least valuable NBA franchise, the New Orleans Pelicans.

    It’s far more likely that your business is a small or medium concern and you are looking to make some gains in the domain of social media and digital marketing. You are either doing the hard yards online yourself, working with a marketing team, or perhaps outsourcing the marketing moves to freelancers (say, have you heard of the DOZ platform? ☺)

    But even if your business doesn’t look much like the Lakers, the Heat, and the Cavs, you can still learn about success on social media from these on and off-court powerhouses.

    In this post we’re going to explain how to apply the lessons of the NBA to your own business.

    Why You Need Social Media Marketing

    Before jumping into the lessons to be learned, it’s important to explain the value that social media brings a business in the first place.

    For one thing, social media is an important indicator of the company’s marketing health. It is not, however, always a close correlation to actual corporate performance. Take the example of the top-of-the-social-table LA Lakers and the bottom-of-the-social-table Utah Jazz. Sure, the Lakers are not playing well on the court in recent years and the Utah Jazz has a 2016 regular season record that’s about 30% better. The fact that a team is succeeding on the court doesn’t translate to social media success, but neither does lacking social success mean your on-court game is suffering. What social media success does demonstrate, though, is that your marketing is cutting through.

    And what you want more than anything else is that cut-through. So how do you get there? Start by analysis the basics of your business and your marketing approach.

    Step 1: What are you good at?

    Start taking a look at why your business is still here, on the market. You may not be the world market leader but you surely have some competitive advantage that helps you survive in the rough and tumble of modern capitalism.

    If you’re stuck with how to get started on this, ask some basic questions.

    • Why do I have customers? What is pulling my ‘fans’ into my ‘stadium’?
    • Is my product exceptional? Do I have a Jordan, Johnson, or James in my stable?
    • Is my marketing awesome while my product only average? In other words, am I the Miami Heat of my industry?

    Analyze your business and establish what you are good at. Ask your employees, brainstorm in groups, and get advice from your customers, too. Try out surveys, note down comments at the point of sale, ask for advice and make your employees feel comfortable about passing on ideas about the business whether positive or negative.

    Negative? Yep – that’s step two.

    Step 2: What are you bad at?

    This is basically the same question as in Step 1

    It is basically the same question you just asked yourself, but in reverse: what are you not so good at?

    Are you like the Miami Heat with a great marketing strategy but a below-average game? Or maybe you’re like the Washington Wizards and actually play well enough but have trouble developing your marketing reach.

    You won’t know where to focus your energies until you identify where the problems are. Like the teams in the league, there is a lot that goes into making your season a success – both on and off the court. Your job is to make sure you have all your corners covered.

    Now onto step three.

    Step 3: Strategy Time

    You should have a list of things you are good at and some others you aren’t so good at. There are two ways to deal with weaknesses:

    1. You forget about them and focus on your strengths
    2. You focus on the problem and find a way to fix it.

    Both will allow you to affect some change, but number one is both the ‘easy way’ and the shortsighted way.

    Focusing on the good parts of your business can help in gaining confidence but eventually your weaknesses are going to bite. Like a team with a strong defense but who can’t seem to make a basket, only half of your game is going to be working for you. And while keeping the other team to a low score is part of winning, if you don’t make any buckets yourself then you’re going to lose all the same.

    Instead, then, you should opt for both solidifying your strengths while addressing your weaknesses as a priority. After all, your strengths will still be there and you can only improve if you bring your weaknesses up to par. You might never have the all around game of a Lebron James but there’s nothing to stop you having great technical and mechanical skills and a mean drive while having a weaker three-point shot. Make that outside game a little bit better while maintaining the rest of your skills? Well that’s how you get ahead.

    You may have bugs in your software: make your engineers focus on them before launching a new product. You may have a tight budget: reduce your company’s expense, touching as less as possible to customer comfort.

    This is how you drive hard in the paint, so to speak, when pushing for the title.

    Step 4: Nail It

    At some point you need to stop analyzing and planning for the changes and start putting your plans into practice. Those locker-room psych-up sessions only take you up to the starting whistle, and after that you need to play hard and fast.

    This is what Matt Barnes decided on 9 December 2015 when the Grizzlies faced the Pistons in the regular season. While Ilyasova and Drummond were battling Conley, Gasol, and Randolph to score a basket, he just showed up and picked the bouncing ball, ran a few inches, and ‘knocked down a half court shot’.

    Are you ready to nail it, Barnes-style?


    The NBA season is inspirational for many people, including social media marketers and business owners. It might be the glitz, it might be the athleticism, it might be the chance to see performances on the floor from some of the best ever to play the game. When Steph hits another three or when Lebron drives to score, you just know that there’s something special you’re witnessing.

    But you can also apply the lessons of the NBA to your business. Whether on social media specifically or divining your business strategy more generally, the NBA and the thirty teams that battle each year for the title can provide inspiration for innovation, for defining strategy, and for addressing the weaknesses that even the most successful business have. If you’re looking for a way forward, you can do a lot worse than learning from the big men of the boards. And who knows: maybe that championship ring will come your way next season?



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