NBA expands social media presence

Sports leagues are increasingly creative when it comes to the promotion of their sport through social media, and the NBA -- the professional sports league most devoted to digital media -- is leading the charge.

The NBA has ramped up its Internet presence during the 2012 playoffs, launching league accounts on Pinterest and Tumblr and taking its Twitter game to another level.

Its Pinterest and Tumblr accounts were both created to serve different purposes than the league's Twitter and Facebook pages. The NBA's Pinterest page features shoes, jerseys and apparel, in hopes the coolest products will get pinned and re-pinned to help the league’s merchandise sales. The Tumblr blog is a tribute to classic NBA playoff moments, from the days of short shorts, high-top fades, handchecking and Charles Barkley being fat.

Pinterest and Tumblr give the NBA the ability to provide a more visual-based look to users, something Facebook and especially Twitter can’t provide as fluidly.

But, all that said, the NBA is still putting effort into its Twitter presence.

It created two pages on its website -- the Playoffs Pulse page and the Social Spotlight page -- that document and highlight what’s being said about the NBA on Twitter.

Playoffs Pulse lists the NBA’s trending players by hour throughout the playoffs, and it’s pretty cool. For example, you can see people were talking about Chris Paul on Monday night during the Clippers’ victory over the Grizzlies. During the day, Baron Davis was most talked about because of his possibly career-ending knee injury.

Social Spotlight, on the other hand, takes the best NBA content from Twitter and puts it in one place. Not everyone has time to scour Twitter all day, so these are the smartest comments, most telling stats and coolest photos out there.

The NBA has always understood the global impact of the Internet.

When YouTube hit popularity, the league allowed anyone to post NBA footage, hoping it would increase the league’s popularity. Other sports, meanwhile, had lawyers scouring the Web for copyright infringement. This helped the NBA bring in new -- and young -- fans.

Led by Shaq and a few others, the NBA has always been the most popular sport on Twitter -- and that is certainly helped by the fame, likability and accessibility of its star players. Many teams were putting an effort toward Twitter long before it was popular, and the numbers reflect that effort today.

The NBA also features the most devoted collection of blogs and websites covering its games; NBA teams aren’t as guarded as football and baseball, knowing that it’s a star-driven league, and that its popularity stems from the drama around the game as much as the actual game.

When you combine every league, team and player account, the NBA has more than 250 million social media followers.

And that number is only continuing to grow.