SBJ/July 2-8, 2012/Franchises

Wolves launch social media site for fans

The Minnesota Timberwolves are the latest NBA franchise to consolidate all of the team’s social media channels into a new site with an eye toward driving more revenue through its digital efforts.

Last week, the team launched WolvesNation.com, a site that aggregates all the team’s social media activity into a single site.

To drive fan traffic on the site, the Wolves are offering prizes, merchandise and concession discounts, and memorabilia while also allowing fans on the site to help dictate in-game entertainment, including selecting songs and video packages for games.

The team plans to sell site sponsorships.
On the revenue side, the Wolves hope the increased traffic yields higher ad rates, while it plans to sell site sponsorships and use the platform to promote ticket packages.

WolvesNation.com, which is a separate site from the team’s main website, has a main frame that aggregates posts and allows users to sign in directly using their Facebook and Twitter accounts to streamline access to the site. Fans can post videos and messages on the site and take part in various in-game contests with the goal of earning points that can lead to merchandise and ticket discounts. Traditional team news and player information also will be fed into the site.

Two staffers will run day-to-day operations of the site led by Bob Stanke, director of interactive services for the Wolves. The Wolves partnered with St. Paul-based Accelerated Innovations to develop the site.

“It is a one-stop shop for fans searching for what the Timberwolves conversation is and it seems to be where the trend is moving,” said Ted Johnson, chief marketing officer for the Timberwolves. “We want to make sure new eyeballs are watching us and get them engaged.”

The Wolves’ new digital strategy follows a similar effort by the Phoenix Suns, which in February launched Fans.Suns.com to replace the team’s PlanetOrange.net site. Fans.Suns.com also aggregates all social media activity surrounding the team while offering fan contests and prizes. The Suns have a deal with Southwest Airlines to sponsor their new site.

Jeramie McPeek, Suns vice president of digital operations, did not say how much traffic the site is generating or any revenue details.

“We launched the site late in the season and I expect we will see the biggest level of engagement heading into training camp,” McPeek said.

Johnson said that the Wolves launched their site just before the NBA draft. Earlier this spring, the Wolves launched a similar site around their WNBA Lynx franchise as a test for the Wolves site.

“LynxNation.com was our beta version to help us learn as we go,” Johnson said.

The Suns and Wolves also have developed mobile apps for their new sites.

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