The Golden State Warriors offered their initial Facebook “Deal” during their game versus the New York Knicks last Friday November 19th. Unlike many sports teams that timidly adopt the social Web via fringe initiatives, the Warriors continue to set the pace by aggressively integrating social business objectives into core operations across marketing, PR and sales.
In just the past month, the Warriors rolled out Tweedia Day (my coverage here) and Social Media 3 Point Play, successful initiatives designed to erase the barriers between “traditional” and “social” media by giving online social media influencers complete media access.
At last Friday’s home game against the Knicks, the Warriors held their first Facebook “Deal” as one of Facebook’s initial launch partners for the new feature. The program was simple and effective, allowing fans who “checked in” to Facebook’s new Places feature access to an exclusive Deal. Fans were given simple instructions, both with flyers (in the photo) and with a message on the video message on the Scoreboard in the 1st Quarter (embedded).
Now this is where the magnified impact of social media on sports comes into play. Other Facebook Deal launch partners included Chipotle, GAP, JCPenney, Lululemon, Macy’s, McDonald’s among others (including some sports related partners). And there is no doubt that social commerce is becoming a juggernaut and that access to a discount is a significant motivator. But for sports fans, the opportunity to meet a hero is often worth far more than a discount on clothing or food. While standing in the tunnel by the players’ locker room, I saw a herd of young children who went absolutely bonkers just seeing Monta Ellis run by them onto the court for warm ups. And I know I would have had a similar reaction at that age.
Little did those children know that the Facebook Deal would allow them to attend a “meet and greet” with Ellis just after the game ended. Ellis had a monster game with 40 points, and retreated to the locker room just long enough to clean up before emerging to find hundreds of screaming fans waiting to see him.
And it was notable that it was “hundreds” of fans that claimed the Deal. For an initial rollout of a new social media feature, the effort should be considered an overwhelming success.
Even as Facebook is entering the Location-Based Services (LBS) arena, there remains plenty of skepticism whether mainstream users will “check in” to physical locations via an LBS application. A recent report from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project showed that only 4% of online adults have used an LBS application and on any given day, just 1% of Internet users are making use of such services.
But adoption of such services at the Warriors game was higher across the board. There were 162 fans checked into the game via Foursquare and about 1000 fans checked in via Facebook Places. With an announced 19,808 in attendance, that’s almost 6% of fans in attendance checked in via one of those two applications alone. While that kind of penetration may seem low on the whole, the Pew report astutely points out that Twitter saw very similar adoption rates not too long ago.
When you consider that Facebook Places/Deals was making its debut and is only available on iOS and (partially) Android phones, that’s pretty impressive penetration.
Of the 1000 or so Facebook Place checkins, well over 300 users went on to claim the “Deal” for the “meet and greet”. Interesting that one-touch functionality to claim the deal is currently only available on iOS versions of the Facebook app. Android (or other mobile OS) users would have had to bypass the native Facebook app and check in via touch.facebook.com to access the Deal. I’m an Android user (Sprint EVO) and wasn’t able to figure that out intuitively and iOS and Android combined currently account for only 47% of mobile operating systems. Point being, there are still numerous barriers to easy adoption, much less widespread awareness, and there was still significant traction for an initial rollout.
The Warriors encouraged fans to tag themselves in the group Facebook photo, with almost 50 fans tagging themselves, 145 “likes” and 96 comments so far.
No doubt that the Warriors and eager fans both considered the event a success and this kind of adoption for a pioneering effort bodes really well for the future. As smartphone adoption continues to explode and awareness of LBS applications continues to increase, it seems inevitable that similar efforts will become a staple of sports marketing. The opportunities for sports teams to create competition among fans for exclusive deals will lead to the creation of incredibly effective loyalty rewards programs. Sports marketing executives should take note quickly.