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Q&A: Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, VP of marketing at the NBA

Melissa Rosenthal Brenner, the NBA’s VP of marketing, discusses how it uses social media to boost fan experience.

Q: How does the NBA integrate its digital marketing campaigns with its traditional campaigns??

A: We have never looked at digital marketing as a separate entity from traditional marketing. It’s all part of the same marketing mix. For instance, in prior years, we’ve had “Where Amazing Happens” that we’ve used as our campaign for the regular season. For social media, we made it “Instant Amazing.” We used primarily Twitter and little bit of Facebook, where we had embedded reporters who took behind-the-scenes photos or videos to give fans a real insider’s access to the game. There’s never been a separate digital marketing effort. It’s all been coordinated, although the exact execution will change a bit according to the platform.?

Q: The NBA has a large social media presence with several players active on Twitter. How has Twitter impacted the NBA’s customer engagement efforts??

A: Twitter has been an invaluable navigational tool for us for tune-in. Our fans are focused on watching sports with a dual screen, such as their TV, laptop or handheld. Being able to point fans to incredible matchups or tell someone in real-time that the game is very close or a player is having an unbelievable performance has really been a game-changer. If you aggregate the number of followers of the NBA, the 30 NBA teams and the players, it’s just north of 30 million. If you do the same exercise with Facebook across the NBA page, the 30 teams and the players, it’s another 50 million. We have more than 85 million followers and fans across Twitter and Facebook. ?

Q: You recently launched the Facebook game NBA Legend, where users can create an avatar and play against others. Can you talk about how social gaming feeds into your marketing strategy??

A: Gaming for us and for most companies has really become an important cornerstone of any social media strategy and, to be frank, it also should be a focus of how you can monetize in the space. If you look at the success of companies like Lionside and Zynga, and play them, it’s clear that real business models have been built in social media using gaming as the construct.?

Q: What are the NBA’s digital marketing goals for 2011??

A: It’s pretty straightforward. We want to continue to find clever and innovative ways to engage our fans globally. That’s not just on NBA.com, but it’s working with a number of social media partners. The goal is to be poised as an organization to leverage new technologies as they emerge. Our job is to engage fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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