Zach Randolph might be the most feared power forward in the league, 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 Memphis Grizzlies. Stay tuned to for ongoing coverage of the #NBADigitalSeries.

The Memphis Grizzlies have notoriously gained the reputation as the one team that nobody wants to face during the playoffs. This sentiment stems from the “grit ‘n’ grind” style of play they have established over their last several postseason runs. The players, naturally, embody this movement as much as with their respective personalities as with the team’s renowned defense, particularly Zach Randolph and Tony Allen.

Conversely, the city of Memphis has embraced this team due to the intertwined symbiosis they both mutually share. As a small market, though, the hard-hat mindset tends to be enough reason to support them. There isn’t as big of a necessity to divest resources to digital marketing when simple values–and word of mouth virtually by itself–matter more, especially when the Grizzlies are the lone professional team in town without much grand, entertainment options otherwise.

The duality present reverberates throughout their digital channels, starting with the team’s website. At the forefront, the header prominently displays the hashtag for the “#BelieveMemphis” mantra to impel fans to use it on social media. First Tennessee Bank and Toyota stand as the site’s presenting sponsors, right underneath the aforementioned hashtag. Just as important is the team’s “MVP Access” widget that provides season-ticket holders access to pertinent information, which they must log-in for. The main menu tabs are quite rudimentary and feature either a button for ticket sales or merchandise when opened; these functionality elements don’t optimize unless there’s better content. The “news” tab, interestingly, houses the team’s social networks–sans for their Instagram account–which denotes its primary purpose, while the left-side widget intends for fans to share the fact that they’re on the site. Everything else is just typical of any other team website, excluding the subtle yellow, fan backdrop that shows them holding the “we don’t bluff” towels in the stands.

The three key social media channels, however, offer the most content on a consistent basis.

For a small market, the Grizzlies do possess an outstanding volume of over a million on Facebook alone. They have recently updated their cover photo a few times to reflect a player over the “Believe Memphis” slogan; more importantly, though, is that they followed the Los Angeles Clippers’ lead to support a unifying front in light of the recent Donald Sterling news for at least one day. Under their about section, they explicitly express fans about season tickets and where to call for them, which likely doesn’t register desired results. They have a Flickr stream of photos available among their applications but don’t highlight their Twitter feed, just Instagram; the former of which surely represents one of the few teams to show that off. The tone of the copy is informative and short to the point with plenty of hashtags and shortened links; the at mentions are somewhat confounding since this isn’t Twitter, though. Besides having posts directly for e-commerce in between others, they have tried real-time activity before games and after each quarter during these playoffs.

With regards to Twitter, they’ve kept their about section consistent with that of Facebook’s to encourage ticket sales among the 266,000 followers. They frequently retweet local influencers associated with the team and reply back to fans as well. There isn’t pervasive in-game, tweet updates compared to what other teams exercise, simply to point out certain key moments. They do, however, push for fans to use broadcaster’s hashtags to funnel the conversation that way. What’s great, though, is they occasionally take a lighthearted approach through sharing images of photobombs and funny memes produced by others. The voice here is similar to Facebook, while being quite fan-friendly.

As for Instagram, this medium needs the most work out of all of them. There’s just over 70,000 followers here, while also maintaining the same about section. The frequency of posts doesn’t suffice for fans when sometimes there’s just one or two every few days. The quality of the images are sometimes a bit distorted, don’t resonate with users, or maximize the platform. During March Madness, they decided to share some old college photos of the players but was subpar. And lately, the team attempted near real-time posts after every quarter as branded content for Sonic; this second-screen score update discontinued to keep up pace as this opening round playoff series has progressed.

Still, the predominant campaign of “#BelieveMemphis” underlines their most significant activation to date.

There are two different aspects: one to be a part of online photo collage and another to edit a profile picture. Both of these compartments can be viewed from the team’s Facebook. The former is rather common, in terms of posting a photo and getting the chance to be feature on the website. The latter, though, utilizes a tool called Twibbon that functions as a widget in order to add a design to a user’s current photo. While it seems kind of basic to understand, a little more information and prompts from the other social outlets would increase usage. There’s only an incentive to win playoff tickets by completing the former between these two, which is sponsored by the American Home Shield.

All things considered, the Memphis Grizzlies don’t intend to play or win pretty. The simplicity earmarks what this small market generally needs. The measures taken digitally reflect that of the team and the city itself. Despite not even having its own mobile app, the Grizzlies are poised to have a deep playoff run by keeping it blue collar on all fronts–regardless what they do internally or externally to promote it.

They, indeed, don’t bluff.