You Can’t Slap Social Media on Everything

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 5.23.50 PMBREAKING NEWS: NBA game balls are officially social.

If you were hoping that NBA game balls could now tweet, interact, like and engage with NBA fans, think again. The only thing social about the NBA game ball is that it now proudly boasts the league’s Twitter handle on it.

Yes, the NBA announced today that the official game ball is going to be adorned with their Twitter handle– @NBA— in pint-size font.

After the announcement on Twitter, my timeline started blowing up—“the NBA is smart, it’s so social, hail NBA game ball.” But as I sat and watched the coverage unfold (that included tweets from media outlets like ESPN, Mashable, etc.), I couldn’t help to think the whole thing was a little silly. Why are we talking about the NBA placing their Twitter handle on a ball?

Just because the NBA had to cut through a lot of red tape to get the Twitter handle there, does not mean that it deserves a standing ovation. There’s nothing social about placing a Twitter handle on an inanimate object. Oh the irony.

Slapping social media accounts, icons, hashtags, etc. is anything new in the sports industry. We slap social media promos on TV spots, jerseys, basketball courts and so much more. But here’s the thing:

You can’t slap social on everything and call it innovation.

Before any team or league slaps a social media promo on a physical object, they need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What’s the call to action? Is this part of a larger campaign? Are we reaching a different audience, and, does the audience care? Does it strike curiosity? How do we bridge the physical gap with the social gap? How do we actually make the social connection? The list of questions could go on and on and on.

As the social media and sports industry continues to evolve, we have to celebrate the moments that matter. We have to applaud the things that leverage the unique nature of social media and the sports industry. There’s so much innovation ahead with augmented reality, experiential marketing, social listening, etc.– that’s what we need to write about and focus on.

I don’t mean to come down on the official ball’s parade, but I can’t jump on this applause train. It’s important to note that I’m not opposed to the fact that the Twitter handle is on the ball. In fact, I’m not knocking the NBA at all (it was well orchestrated from their PR team). I’m simply against the notion that slapping social media on something is newsworthy or equal to innovation. We have to think and dream bigger than that.

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