Joakim Noah may be an All-Star stepping up in place of Derrick Rose, but basketball has always been a team game.The 30 franchises that make up the NBA have generated a revenue pie in excess of $5 billion. The digital age has enabled this game to reach its worldwide audience anywhere, anytime. Teams can build up their own local fan base through the sundry of platforms available.

Much like our #NFLTechSeries, this time SportTechie delves into the digital strategies–from web, social media, mobile apps, and any other technological connection–of each team and analyzes them, including insights from some of the digital executives involved. Today, the #NBADigitalSeries 2013-14 continues with the Chicago Bulls. Stay tuned to for ongoing coverage of the #NBADigitalSeries.

Most NBA teams are working to cultivate a regional following, but the Chicago Bulls, with their six NBA championships and their greatest player of all time being THE greatest player of all time, are speaking to a much larger national audience. And it shows across their social media. The Bulls’ reach is HUGE. Over 12 million on Facebook, 1.39 million on Twitter and 470,000 plus on Instagram–plus a bevy of followers on Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and their blog.

Chicago certainly has the audience, but are they engaging with them the right way?

The Bulls’ social media accounts have the content, but often lack character. They frequently post great images to Facebook, but half-time and end of game posts never have scores on the graphics, which make them less shareable. If the Bulls just beat the Miami Heat, a fan would be much more likely to share a picture proudly displaying the score than just a random photo of Joakim Noah dunking. This also hurts engagement because fans quick scrolling through may not read a long game recap, but a picture with a score tells everything they need to know.


The same goes for the Bulls’ Twitter, which for the most part is limited to in-game updates. One thing they are really missing out on from an exposure standpoint is at-mentioning and retweeting their players. This both let’s fans connect with the players and gives the team another voice beyond just in-game updates. Something like a Twitter takeover from a member of the Chicago Bears during football season would also really help to spice up their tweets and bring in an even bigger audience.

The Bulls create great video content for BullsTV on their website, including features and recaps, but the vast majority of that never makes its way to YouTube, which is another mistake. Content is much more shareable and infinitely more discoverable on YouTube than a team site; and by not putting the content in both places, viewership is hurt.

Instagram is probably the Bulls’ strongest suit. Encouraging hashtags, posting behind-the-scenes pictures and overall production is well done on this platform.

One great thing the Bulls are doing on the tech-side is a season-ticket holder exclusive microsite called “ClickTix“. Their season-ticket holders can sell tickets to games they can’t make, transfer tickets to other people and take care of their account. It’s small, but adding more exclusivity creates incentive for other fans to become season-ticket holders themselves.

The Bulls app is really nice and intuitive. It gives you all the team information you need quickly as well as features for when you’re at the United Center, including concession locations. It’s greatest plus may be that it never bounces you from the app. You can view the team’s Instagram feed, tweets, buy tickets, and watch video all within the app. It makes for a very inclusive experience.

Bulls app

Beyond social, the Bulls are making other great strides in the digital space as well. Their game-day site that is used to follow the team during a game is a joy to browse, behaving like a long-form web article. It scrolls beautifully with very large photos and stats about the game; and is quite engaging. They integrate back to social very well with an interactive map showing where social chatter is coming from, a separate tab to show which tweets the Bulls have favorited throughout the game and a “#BullsSelfie” tab pulling fan pictures from Instagram. All-in-all, it’s a very clean and unique approach to a game-day site that gives fans plenty of reason to check it out; and serves as a very viable second-screen option while watching the Bulls play.

Overall, the Bulls seem to be operating at status quo as far as tech and social go. They do have some strong engagement strategies, but there is potential for so much more with the massive fan base that they have.