Celtics See Success in Competitive Facebook App

  |  November 17, 2009   |  Comments

Branded app adds new layer of fan interaction for a team that's already on Twitter and YouTube.

A Facebook application created for The Boston Celtics by Boston-based interactive agency Moleculargrabbed more than 7,000 users in less than three weeks with no publicity, said agency reps.

The app, called "3-Point Play," allows competitive Celtics fans to challenge each other to predict the points, rebounds and assists of their favorite players during each game. It was launched Oct. 27, just before the Celtics' season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

"So far, we have over 7,000 users registered and we just started our marketing for it," said Maura Nagle, engagement director at Molecular. "So we are pretty pleased with the way things are going so far. We're also seeing a lot of success in the viral nature, with friends encouraging friends to play."

To drive participation, The Celtics are awarding prizes throughout the season. Fans that are most adept at predicting the "statistical output" of their chosen players get a shot at playoff tickets. For the team's marketers, the Facebook application provides insight into the online behavior and preferences of Celtics fans, said Nagle and Molecular Senior VP Scott Savitt. This data should be helpful in crafting the team's digital marketing strategy. Savitt suggested the Celtics could send tailored product offers, perhaps a special edition jersey with a player's number to fans who indicate the player is their favorite.

The Celtics have about 450,000 Facebook friends, the second-most in the NBA. But Savitt said the team's marketing staff wanted the online involvement with fans to be more reciprocal. "There wasn't any conversation or dialogue happening," he said. "We wanted to provide value and fun for fans in this statistical fantasy game. While doing that, we are to get them over to Celtics.com and then we start to learn about their preferences...have a more one-on-one engagement platform and start to collect appropriate information for targeted communication."

Savitt and Nagle pointed out the team is involved in many forms of digital interaction, including Twitter, e-mail and a YouTube channel. The Celtics were the first team to rollout the NBA's Game Time Live application on their Web site. IT allows fans to chat during games with other fans, two Celtics employees and an NBA representative.

Molecular, part of the Isobar network of digital agencies, also wanted to make a participatory social network application that would not only grab the attention of Celtics fans but also keep them engaged through the long NBA season, Savitt said.

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