The Golden State Warriors may be currently locked in battle with their newfound nemesis Cleveland over the NBA championship, but they’ve already been crowned the people’s champion.
That’s not a sentiment that automatically springs to mind after the backlash that accompanied their free agency coup last summer, but the numbers don’t lie. The Warriors are the most engaging NBA presence on Facebook and the fastest growing team on Instagram and Twitter.
If you measure the voice of the people through social media, the loudest chants are for Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and company. Winning always helps–Warriors social media traffic increases by 10% after a win–and Golden State is now on the verge of winning on the biggest stage the NBA has, the Finals.
So it’s time the Warriors start providing some special incentives for their online fans by embracing real-time video conferencing and offering a virtual courtside experience during the biggest series of the year.
Social Media Fans Are Active Fans
Saying the Warriors are the most engaging team on Facebook isn’t a comment on their posts or presence, it’s a reflection of how often social media fans interact with the team’s account. Golden State fans have an interaction rate (which measures likes, comments, shares, and played videos), more than double their nearest rival Cleveland. This stands out even more when you compare the Warriors’ interaction rate of 154% with that of an internationally recognized brand like the LA Lakers, which comes in at just over 15%.
That’s an active online audience that is visibly demonstrating its desire to be a part of the team. And the Warriors don’t have anything near the legacy of the Lakers. They’ve built this following on the back of a sudden rise to success and some smart social media management. Before winning the title in 2015, the Warriors had gone 40 years without a championship…and that was their only championship.
So how do you act on this newfound social media celebrity?
You make your online connection even more concrete by using the only technology that’s able to put fans in a face-to-face conversation with their heroes across a distance: video conferencing.
The Future of Sports Fandom
We previously discussed ways the Warriors could engage with their online fans through video calling after they announced a partnership with video conferencing platform Zoom. At that time, we were speculating about getting fans access to unique, real-time interviews and personal chats with star players and team officials.
With the Finals upon us, though, we’re turning our attention to the in-game experience.
Fox produced something like this immersive remote experience with its virtual suite at this year’s Super Bowl. It broadcast only highlights of the game, in “near” real time, but it did give viewers 360-degree panoramas of their virtual corporate box and turned their smartphones into big screen TVs through the use of Google goggles.
The Warriors could even take that digital setup and add something like Coachella’s real-time live streams with 360-degree viewer-controlled cameras to create the platform for a more remarkable remotely streamed event. Then they could add video calling, and online fans would be able to add their applause and boos to the Oracle Arena atmosphere.
Interactive Live Streaming with Video Conferencing
With its first-of-its-kind virtual courtside corporate box, the Warriors could live stream the game directly from dedicated cameras set up around the floor-level of the court. The virtual box would act like a video calling chat room, where users are given a link to paste into their browsers and are free to chat with other hardcore Warriors fans while they wait for game time. Apps like Airtime and Rabb.it already feature video chat rooms that can accommodate shared streamed media, so we’re not out on a limb here.
Before the game begins, a Golden State official–or perhaps even Coach Steve Kerr–could address the online audience through an onsite webcam and field a few questions about the game. In the same way that Facebook Messenger can accommodate up to 50 video callers at once, each online viewer would be able to see, hear, and speak to everyone else through their smartphone or desktop via a series of chat windows.
Once the game began, the remote audience would be able to cycle through different camera angles and follow live stats and commentary via their main screen. The Warriors might even assign a special on-site host for the evening to keep the banter flowing while the remote fans soak in the sights and sounds of the game through courtside mics and cameras.
The Warriors may be out in front of the pack when it comes to social media, but to really produce something new, they need to harness all that attention and take it to a whole new level of immersion and engagement. And the time to do it is now, while the on-court team is dominating the competition.