Post-up game: TNT suits up social media

NBA playoff hosts will add Facebook, Twitter

Turner Sports is following the lead of Time Warner sibling CNN by diving headlong into social media.

The cable network is weaving Facebook and Twitter into its "40 Games in 40 Nights" campaign to promote its coverage of the NBA playoffs, which kicks off April 19. The centerpieces of the campaign are an NBA on TNT Facebook fan page and Twitter updates by eight of the network's on-air hosts and analysts.

TNT is setting up Twitter accounts for studio talent Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith, along with feeds for reporter Craig Sager. NBA TV analysts Chris Webber, Gary Payton, Steve Smith, Eric Snow and host Rick Kamala also will have accounts. The on-air talent begins tweeting Tuesday and will provide updates during games. The tweets will be shown on the NBA on TNT Facebook page and on NBA.com.

The effort follows Turner's use of Facebook during All-Star Weekend in February. Via Facebook Connect, the network allowed users to stream Facebook status updates about the competitions onto a TNT Web page. CNN has adopted Facebook for several events; the news network has several anchors who regularly use Twitter.

Jenny Storms, senior vp marketing and programming at Turner, said Twitter is less an overt promotional tool than a way to keep in contact with fans throughout nearly six weeks of games.

"We're giving fans much more inside access," she said. "These guys know the players and behind the scenes. We hope that's the way they'll engage with a lot of this talent."

The social media aspects are part of a broader campaign to build awareness for the playoffs. Turner also bought a home-page takeover of Yahoo Sports and will run a front-page video ad on YouTube and overlay ads in sports-related videos. Traditional tactics include local cable spots, radio sponsorships and print advertising.

Brian Morrissey is digital editor at Adweek.
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