The Golden State Warriors are one of the most widely known and successful basketball teams of our time. They’ve won the third-most championships in the history of the NBA, tied with the famous Chicago Bulls. They’ve earned numerous other NBA accolades, and their two-time MVP, Stephen Curry, has broken several records too.
Their success on the court isn’t the only thing they’re known for, however. The Warriors, or “the Dubs,” as fans call them, are one of the top ten most valuable sports franchises in the world, according to Forbes—worth over $3 billion. Plus, they’re known for interacting with their loyal fans in unique and engaging ways. Their Facebook page has over 11.5 million likes, and a large part of their success on social media can be attributed to one tool. You guessed it: It’s a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
That’s why we sat down with Jeremy Thum, Senior Director of Digital Experience for the Warriors. The Facebook chatbot he and his team built has over one million reachable users, so we did a Q&A with him to get his best tips.
How did you get the idea to create a sports chatbot for the Warriors?
We understood that Messenger and chatbots would be a key focus of Facebook’s F8 conference in April 2017. The timing of the conference perfectly matched the opening of the 2017 NBA Playoffs so we wanted to take advantage of the natural industry momentum to create a unique Playoffs experience for our fans.
Why do you think sports teams should use chatbots?
Chatbots offer fans a unique way of interacting with their favorite teams. There are more ways than ever to feel connected with their teams, especially digitally. However, a 1:1 messaging flow is different, it feels more personal and private than other channels. There are a few different use cases for chatbots; we began with and keep leaning into game information and content delivery.
What was the process of building a chatbot for the Warriors like?
Building the first “Warriors Assistant” was really fun. Without knowing exactly how fans would interact with the bot, we began with a brainstorm of all things fans would “ask” and built flows from there. As our scope was “Playoffs” it helped us narrow the endless possibilities to something manageable. What we learned during that Playoffs run was that fans were interacting much more through a guided menu than free-form text, so we adjust the bot for the next regular season to appear more like what you see today.
Why did you choose Chatfuel to build your bot?
When we saw Chatfuel’s CMS interface and how simple it was to begin building flows, it was a pretty easy decision.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from fans about the chatbot?
We see a spike of usage during game times, which isn’t too surprising. Fans enjoy how quickly they can follow along with a game. It’s probably the fastest way to access a game score outside of being there in person or watching on TV.
The season-long quiz challenge for fans is a great feature. What other features have you added, and how often do you upgrade your bot?
Yes. “What Would the Dubs Dew” is a really fun predictive game, presented by Mountain Dew. It allows fans to predict game outcomes, tally points and win prizes based on how they stack up vs. the rest of Dub Nation. In addition to this game we have more recently incorporated automated game highlight delivery. We’re able to surface the game’s top plays shortly after they occur live. Iteration on the bot is something that is always on our mind.
Which of your bot’s features are the most popular?
We have found that game-related information is most popular. We have a “Livescore” button that instantly returns the current score and time left in a quarter. Its simplicity makes it such a great utility. Highlights and the What Would the Dubs Dew game are also very popular.
Do you have any stories that stand out about the bot?
We had a fan from England message us that the bot was a helpful distraction during a class at University. Not our intended use case!
What advice would you give to others for building a successful sports bot?
Trial and error. Generate ideas, put them into action, look at the data to see if they are received well or not.
A sports chatbot = a slam dunk.
The great news: You can get started designing a chatbot for your sports team right away! Contact us to learn more about our Premium plan, which includes VIP support and even the option to get a custom-built bot for your brand.