Fan Appz targets fan connections

Online followings for teams, athletes and leagues continue to grow by the minute.

And we're increasingly seeing sports properties taking their massive Facebook and Twitter followings and putting them to business use.

Fan Appz is one company making it easier for sports brands to ramp up engagement -- and, in turn, business pursuits -- in the social media realm.

The platform, which launched about a year ago, said CEO Jon Siegal, announced on Tuesday that it had surpassed 100 million social media users, largely through the most popular outlets of Facebook and Twitter.

Fan Appz's technology allows its clients to create polls, quizzes and top-five lists, and sweepstakes, promotions and coupons can be integrated into them.

Several entertainment properties, such as NBC Universal and Fox Broadcasting, have used Fan Appz, and Siegal said the NBA, NFL, NHL, PGA and NASCAR, along with teams and players from around the world, have used the platform.

"At the end of the day, pretty much everyone [using Fan Appz] is trying to do one or all of three things," Siegal said. "They're trying to grow an online audience through social media; they're trying to engage that audience and keep them interested; and then they're trying to channel those connections to drive benefits back to their businesses, usually in some form of monetization."

An example: The NBA frequently uses the Top 5 functionality via Fan Appz. On Tuesday morning, the league's Facebook page asked its fans to rank the top five defenders in the league. At the time this story was published, the wall post had received 3,263 likes and 1,330 comments.

That's audience engagement.

It's also a way for the NBA, as well as other businesses using the platform, to continue to promote its brand to millions on Facebook.

"When people drill in and actually make their choices, they then post their content back on their wall for their friends to see," Siegal said. "There's tens of millions of social media stream impressions that happen that people's friends see, that keep that brand top of mind."

Another example: During this year's NBA playoffs, the league provided video highlights and polled fans asking which was the best one. (An example of this from Game 2 of the NBA Finals can be viewed here.)

This ran in conjunction with a sweepstakes.

"It served multiple purposes, and the sweepstakes functionality was used, in that case, very successfully by the NBA," Siegal said.

Checking on lists

I wrote about Twitter Lists when the feature launched in November.

And now that Twitter's application programming interface has recently allowed for tapping into such data, Fan Page List has charted the most-listed users on Twitter.

Justin Bieber (269,475 lists), Lady Gaga (108,469 lists) and Barack Obama (99,393 lists) round out the top three.

And in sports?

Shaquille O'Neal tops all sports teams, leagues and personalities, appearing on 28,791 users' lists at publishing time -- ranking him No. 39 overall. Lance Armstrong comes in at No. 45 with 26,436 lists, and Chad Ochocinco clocks in at No. 89, appearing on 16,397 lists. The NBA (No. 116, 13,370 lists), NFL (No. 148, 11,010 lists), Reggie Bush (No. 169, 10,037 lists), Dwight Howard (No. 174, 9,751 lists) and LeBron James (No. 182, 9,451 lists) round out sports-based accounts in the top 200.

Outside of James -- who just joined Twitter in July -- all of the above athletes or leagues also appear in the top 210 most-followed users on Twitter, according to Twitaholic, so it would follow that users are also listing these accounts at a high clip.

Ryan Corazza is a freelance writer and Web designer based in Chicago.