NBA teams are having a bit of a rough season. But contracts and short seasons aside, some teams are working hard to keep their fans happy and engaged.
The 76ers are in the process of choosing a new mascot and recently kicked off a fan voting contest to decide between the final three candidates: Big Ben, a version of Benjamin Franklin; Phil E. Moose, “one of the most regal animals to roam the wild,” according to a team press release; and B. Franklin Dogg, whom the team calls “the All-American pet.”
An online contest with lots of digital integration…and one very big problem: The team failed to set up Twitter accounts for the mascot nominees.
Enter two 76ers fans: Jerry Rizzo and Hunter Coleman. The two twenty something, self-proclaimed social media and 76er fanatics took it upon themselves to help out their favorite NBA team – they registered the Twitter accounts @PhilEMoose and @BFranklinDogg. (@BigBen_76ers was already taken.) and also set up Facebook and Google+ accounts for the nominees.
And in a matter of days, @PhilEMoose had nearly 500 followers, while @BFranklinDogg had more than 200. The team has so far received tens of thousands of votes in the contest.
How did the 76ers treat these super social fans?
First they asked them to stop and hand over the passwords (in a legally threatening email).
Then they gave them box seats to the 76ers’ home opener and free season tickets in exchange for “helping out with future fan engagement.” (passwords included in the trade).
And THEN something really crazy happened. Yesterday, Jerry Rizzo was rewarded for his entrepreneurial sprit with a full-time social media position with the 76ers.
Mashable (who broke the story) reports:
On Saturday, 76ers CEO Adam Aron left Rizzo a voicemail asking Rizzo to call him back. Rizzo did, and Aron quizzed him about his interests and experiences, adding that he had been impressed by Rizzo’s online portfolio and work. On Monday, Rizzo went to team headquarters for a series of in-person interviews before sitting down with Aron again. “He said, ‘We’d like to offer you a position with the team,” Rizzo recalled on Monday evening of accepting a social media coordinating position. “And I said, ‘Yeah.’ I mean, it would be kind of like a dream job for me.
Unbelievable? Not really.
It’s a sign of the times. Social media is a huge part of fan engagement – whether teams, players or sponsors want it or not – they can no longer afford to ignore or neglect it.
And before we go, let us say this: The 76ers got lucky.
Rizzo and Coleman handled the accounts professionally – not only did they set up the accounts, they represented and managed them appropriately. The account transition was relatively easy, the campaign got a boost in awareness and the 76ers got a new social media lead. Everyone came out ahead and no damage was done.
Imagine what this story would have been like had the opposite happened?