This article was based on the Leaderboard as of Monday, May 21, 2012. Actual Leaderboard changes on an ongoing basisThe NBA Playoffs are approaching their frenzied peak. Some teams are capturing this momentum to drive up engagement across social media, and others are dropping the ball. Track Social is using our advanced monitoring and optimization platform to analyze team performance across hundreds of social media metrics in near real-time and are ready to crown this season’s NBA Social Media All-Stars.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

The Lakers and the Heat kill it on social media. Their levels of engagement and buzz are far superior to all other teams in the NBA. This East-West conference rivalry isn’t just on the court, but online as well. And because fans everywhere want nothing more than to see these two teams duke it out in the championships, we’ve decided to put them head to head in a Track Social Showdown on the Pillars of Social Media Marketing to see just which team is most deserving of the Social Media Championship Trophy:

Presence – measures a team’s visibility online

#12 – Miami Heat
#15 – Los Angeles Lakers

Audience – measures total number of ongoing relationships a team has formed through Likes and Follows

#1 – Los Angeles Lakers
#4 – Miami Heat

Engagement – measures a team’s interaction with fans: how well fans respond to their posts with Likes and comments, and Retweets

#1 – Miami Heat
#3 – Los Angeles Lakers

Buzz - measure of how much people are talking with, at, and about a team

#1 – Los Angeles Lakers
#2 – Miami Heat

So with the two leaders tied on the Pillars, our Overall Performance score favors the team with the most first places. And the winner is…

#1 Los Angeles Lakers

KEY STAT: #1 in Audience; 106,000 Likes on a Single Post

With 16 NBA Championships, over 13 million Facebook Fans, and 2.5 million Twitter Followers, the Lakers are a force to be reckoned with.

Besides teasing the usual interviews and highlights, the Lakers have linked their Instagram with their Facebook and Twitter pages – allowing fans to visually join them on their playoff journey.  This one’s called Welcome to Oklahoma, taken as the team landed for the start of their second round battle.

The Lakers are  savvy about using their Facebook posts to generate a real conversation with Fans. This post from April 11 might just be the all-star MVP of Facebook posts.  Sometimes, when you go ahead and ask for 30,000 LIKES, you might just get it.  And if you’re the Lakers, you might just get 106,000!

#2 – Miami Heat

KEY STAT: #1 in Facebook Engagement

As much as the Heat must hate losing to the Lakers, they still have a lot to be proud of for performing second best in social media.

The Heat dominate the all-important engagement category – they know how to speak to and interact with online Fans.  Consider the success of this post (which got more than 48,000 LIKES!):

INJURY UPDATE

The MRI on Chris Bosh revealed a strained abdominal muscle. He is out indefinitely.
Like this post to wish him a speedy recovery and comment with your ‘Get Well Soon’ message.

More than any other team, the Heat understand that simply throwing up information on their Facebook Timeline doesn’t necessarily count as engagement.

They’re using Facebook for what it’s actually for – interaction! Fans WANT to respond.  And the Heat are giving their fans something to respond to.

With such great engagement and such great players (they have dibs on this year’s MVP, LeBron James), the Heat sure have a lot to be proud of.

#3 Oklahoma City Thunder

KEY STAT: #1 in Twitter Engagement

While the rest of our top 5 are big name, big franchise teams that have been around for a while, the Thunder have a different story. They are proof that even as a young team, performing well on the court can stir up social media craze.

Fans have been loud and vocal throughout the season, and especially during playoffs. In just the past few days, the Thunder have jumped their way not just into our top 5 (kicking out #6 Spurs and #7 Bulls) but have gone as far to take the bronze. Even with a significantly smaller audience number, with each post they make there’s a greater ratio of fans commenting, liking and Retweeting. With Tweets like this, no wonder their fan engagement is so great!

#4 Boston Celtics

KEY STAT:  Most Engaging App – 3 Point Play

The 17-time World Champion Celtics can claim huge audience numbers – the second highest in the league (just behind the Lakers, which is a position they undoubtedly despise).

The Celtics’ social media strong point is their creativity with Facebook Apps. The 3-Point Play App is a season long contest in which fans collect points by making correct predictions on stats for three different Celtics players each game.  And the Banner Moments Photo Memories App invites fans to “Upload your favorite photo memories to our gallery and browse through Banner Moments shared by fellow Celtics Fans!” Both Apps are genius – encouraging fans to get involved and continually come back to the Celtics’ Facebook page.

#5 New York Knicks

KEY STAT:  Most Facebook Page Comments in One Day – 11,015

The Knicks’ Playoffs journey ended early with a five-game series loss to the Miami Heat, but despite their on-court loss, the Knicks have much to celebrate.

This season was an insane one for the Knicks, or should we say, a Linsanity one? Track Social’s metric graphs show one significant peak – all thanks to Jeremy Lin. In just two weeks in February, Linsanity sparked the Knicks’ audience in a way we haven’t witnessed with any other team.

On March 2, they snagged the Track Social daily record of Most Comments in 1 Day on a Facebook Page with 11,015 comments. The post was simple, yet engaging. “Fill in the Blank: I’ve ‘liked’ the Knicks since_____.”

So there you have it, the top 5 performing NBA teams in social media. A HUGE congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers – winner of Track Social’s Social Media Championship Trophy! And hey, even if they fall to the Thunder in this series, they can still brag about being number 1 on social media.

For all the latest on what the NBA Teams are doing on social media, check out the Track Social NBA Team Zone!

**

Track Social is the most sophisticated social media benchmarking, analytics, publishing, optimization and campaign management system on the market today. Track Social monitors 12,000+ brands across hundreds of social media metrics in near real-time. Click here for a list of features.