Before presenting a case study of the Celtics Facebook game, 3-Point Play, at the DMA conference in Boston last week, I was interviewed by Christine Bunish for a perspective piece in AdAge’s DMA section. The following is a transcript from that interview that appeared in the magazine.
“Digital technologies and social media have only recently become marketing tools for the Boston Celtics, but there’s always something new to learn about them.
“We got on board early with Facebook and Twitter, and built large audiences around them: Our 5.2 million Facebook “likes” is the second-largest audience in North American team sports; and at 220,000 Twitter followers, we rank the third-highest in the NBA. We’re out in front because we got there early and made social media a priority for communicating with our fan base all over the world.
“We were the first team in the league with a Facebook app—and among the first in pro sports—when we launched in October 2009. That app, Celtics 3-Point Play, allows us to identify fans on Facebook and get them into our database. It’s a simple fantasy game that enables people to predict players’ stats before every game and get awarded points.
“We can identify fans and collect basic marketing information through 3-Point Play, and then we can turn these fans into customers who buy jerseys, tickets and—the ultimate goal—season tickets. In the two seasons we’ve had about 180,000 people play, and we got marketing info for about 85,000 who live in New England. Our existing email database was about 250,000. So we experienced a huge percentage growth to our overall email base.
“When people sign up for 3-Point Play, we can find out if they’ve bought tickets in the past. We sold $150,000 in tickets to fans who played last season. Some would have bought tickets regardless, but it tells us that Facebook fans do come to the games and want to become customers.
“Overall, there’s more social media integration on our website. We’ve seen traffic drop on Celtics.com, but we’ve had dramatic growth on our social media. People want you to come to them as they spend more time on Facebook and Twitter and less time surfing the Web. You have to be where your fans are discussing your brand and engage them with a constant presence and dialogue.”