Gordon Hayward may be one of the NBA’s brightest up and coming stars, but basketball has always been a team game. The 30 franchises that make up the league 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 Utah Jazz. Stay tuned to for ongoing coverage of the #NBADigitalSeries.

As the Utah Jazz entered the 2013-14 NBA season, their front office and fanbase prepared for a season of rebuilding. In a city known for its Sundance Film Festival, a perfect screenplay might have a plot based around the Jazz selecting a fellow Mormon – Jabari Parker – as the number 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.  This is what rebuilding does to organizations and fan bases.  It brings about dreams.  By contrast, the Utah Jazz digital team is more focused on innovation rather than rebuilding.

Utah Jazz Fan App

One of the challenging questions facing sports organizations is “How do we engage our fan base when we are losing?”  For some it may be offering tickets at a lower price, or some  other type of  promotional event to attract fans to the arena.  For the Jazz, they  are using a digital strategy  to keep their fans engaged and connected to their team through these rebuilding years.   By partnering with Sporting Innovations FAN360 platform, the Jazz have solidified their ability to win with their fon the digital court despite their team losing on the court.

(Utah Jazz)

As you can see, the layout is very clean and the overall feel of the app enhances the way Jazz fans connected and consume the game.  No longer do Jazz fans need to rely on ESPN game cast or NBA game cast – there is an app tailored to their team with fans able to access features such as play-by-play, team line-ups, venue information, live in game stats and many more.  This is innovation.

Jazz Influence

The digital success of the Utah Jazz extends far beyond their Fan360 platform – it also extends in the area of their influence.  The Utah Jazz are currently ranked #22 on Twitter (out of 30 NBA teams); however, they are ranked as the fourth most influential brand in the NBA with a Klout score of 92.2 trailing only the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, and Chicago Bulls.

The Klout Score is a number between 1-100 that represents your influence. The more influential you are, the higher your Klout Score.  So, what is influence? Influence is the ability to drive action. When you share something on social media or in real life and people respond, that’s influence. This is a great example of how a sports organization can still be influential despite not having a “strong following.”  A great example of providing content that is influential is the content specific material, such as the Valentine’s Day tweet sent out recently.

The Blues

While the Jazz should be commended for their influence on Twitter, there is room left to grow in connecting their Instagram with their YouTube platform (that hasn’t been updated since last year).  While much of their videos seem to give off a family friendly environment – which is great because they understand their audience – the Jazz digital team might have even more influence if they offer more behind-the-scenes looks of a practice or game day.

The pictures they have posted are great, high-end quality, which is what you want on those platforms; however, utilizing more videos could offer more influence both on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  One of the teams that does this really well is the Los Angeles Lakers, and if the Jazz can adopt a bit of their strategies moving forward, they could very well have more digital influence than one of the biggest brands in sports.

For example, here is one example of how the Lakers utilize video on their Instagram:

The lakers video is different than any video you will see on Instagram from most teams which makes the content more influential and user-friendly.

Now, let’s take a look at the Jazz using video on their Instagram:

This video displayed here is fine, but it does not offer any aspects of footage that the casual fan cannot access from say ESPN or being at the game.  By comparison, the next video is a prime example of the Jazz utilizing digital content in a more behind-the-scenes fashion that provides more influence amongst their followers.

State of the Union

Despite the fact that the Jazz will indubitably finish with a top 5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, fans remain engaged. Much of this can be attributed to the digital efforts mentioned above and the Jazz are a leading candidate of how sports teams can still have a successful season despite not having the most successful outcome in terms of wins and losses.