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#NBABallot: Analyzing The NBA’s Social Media All-Stars

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.14.03 AM Every year, the NBA allows fans to vote their favorite players into the league’s All-Star exhibition game – and it’s a complete marketing coup.

It’s no coincidence that the top two all-star vote-getters happen to be two of the league’s most endorsed players: Lebron James and Kevin Durant. While these men aren’t logos themselves (see: Jordan, Michael), they’re the last of a dying breed that have their own associated brand lines with Nike.

Coming in just behind Durant and James, we find Kobe Bryant, who, in a two-name profession, invented his international celebrity as simply, “Kobe.” Kobe also has his own Nike line and countless other endorsements, so it’s no surprise to find him here – except for the fact that he’s only played in six games this year due to injury and won’t participate in the All-Star exhibition. Yet, even as Kobe pleas for fans to nominate a younger generation, the people know what they like and his votes continue to pour in.

Last year, the league added a new wrinkle to All-Star balloting: Twitter.

The league has long been a dominant force in social media, with more than 400 players on Twitter (nearly 90% of the NBA). It even hosts its own Social Media Awards on the NBA Network. And last year, for the first time, fans could turn to the social network to cast All-Star ballots for their favorite NBA players.

The NBA counts an All-Star ballot as any Tweet including a player’s first and last name followed by #NBABallot. Since its launch on November 15, more than 500,000 votes have been cast by more than 150,000 unique voters (the NBA caps an individual’s #NBABallot votes at 10 per day). We began tracking the hashtag using Simply Measured’s Twitter Analytics software and found that the NBA’s Social Media All-Stars are not the household names you’d expect to see on a wall in Footlocker – except for Kobe Bryant, who, well… Kobe.

With 47,436 #NBABallot-endorsed posts, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is the clear favorite. To put that in context, the leading official All-Star vote getter, Lebron James, has tallied 1,076,063 votes. Curry himself is sixth on the official NBA Ballot with 677,372 votes, a tally which earns him the second guard spot in the Western Conference behind… an injured Kobe Bryant (844,538 votes).

Stephen Curry’s All-Star bid is well deserved after electrifying audiences with his thing-of-beauty 3-point shooting and leading the Golden State Warriors to the playoffs for the second year in a row. His emerging Twitter celebrity, however, has come with a few assists. Golden State’s marketing team has embraced social media more perhaps than any other team in the league, already promoting their star player with #splashbrothers, #dubnation, and #fullsquad throughout the year.

Consistent audience engagement made it possible for the Warriors to focus their fans’ efforts quickly around the new hashtag and the results are quite clear, as San Francisco tops our list of cities engaged with #NBABallot. Trailing close behind we find the Portland Trailblazers, who have also run a campaign for their stars, Damian Lillard and Lamarcus Aldridge – each among the top 7 in social ballots.

The action isn’t all on Twitter. This year the NBA introduced Instagram voting, employing the same #NBABallot. More than 23,000 ballots have been cast on the network since December and, once again, Golden State embraced early with an aggressive strategy to promote their star. The results? Stephen Curry tops all players with nearly 6,000 Instagram votes.

Golden State extended their social efforts beyond the walls of Oracle Arena for the campaign. They enlisted outside help from ally, Twitter influencer, and Bay Area neighbor, the San Francisco Giants:

The Warriors are not the only team to employ this tactic of pseudo-Promoted posting. The Washington Wizards received a boost for their star John Wall from hometown rapper, Wale:

NBA teams and fans have one last weekend to vault their favorite players to All-Star status, increasing brand awareness for both team and player. It will be interesting to see what teams come up with to add #NBABallot’s to their voter rolls.

Here’s what the final push has looked liked in January for the player’s atop the NBA’s All-Star ballot and their relative share of #NBABallot.

West Frontcourt:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.35.19 AM

Official NBA Ballot Results

1. Kevin Durant (OKC) 1,054,209

2. Dwight Howard (Hou) 509,116

3. Blake Griffin (LAC) 500,964

4. Kevin Love (Min) 483,031

5. LaMarcus Aldridge (Por) 404,793

6. Tim Duncan (Por) 385,342

7. Anthony Davis (NO) 223,956

8. Pau Gasol (LAL) 207,213

9. Andre Iguodala (GS) 192,616

10. Dirk Nowitzki (Dal) 156,792

West Backcourt: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.37.05 AM

1. Kobe Bryant (LAL) 844,538

2. Stephen Curry (GS) 677,372

3. Chris Paul (LAC) 651,073

4. Jeremy Lin (Hou) 471,980

5. James Harden (Hou) 338,788

6. Russell Westbrook (OKC) 260,499

7. Tony Parker (SA) 195,328

8. Damian Lillard (Por) 162,363

9. Klay Thompson (GS) 108,404

10. Ricky Rubio (Min) 97,265

East Frontcourt: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.36.03 AM

1. LeBron James (Mia) 1,076,063

2. Paul George (Ind) 899,671

3. Carmelo Anthony (NYK) 702,869

4. Roy Hibbert (Ind) 385,964

5. Chris Bosh (Mia) 304,986

6. Kevin Garnett (BKN) 164,021

7. Joakim Noah (Chi) 128,201

8. Andre Drummond (Det) 120,844

9. Tyson Chandler (NYK) 101,637

10. Jeff Green (Bos) 96,336

East Backcourt: 

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 10.37.54 AM

1. Dwyane Wade (Mia) 718,109

2. Kyrie Irving (Cle) 652,522

3. Derrick Rose (Chi) 323,099

4. John Wall (Was) 278,516

5. Ray Allen (Mia) 190,086

6. Rajon Rondo (Bos) 133,448

7. Deron Williams (BKN) 95,309

8. George Hill (Ind) 89,428

9. Lance Stephenson (Ind) 77,364

10. DeMar DeRozan (Tor) 68,985

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