Name: Nakib Khandaker
Job: Sr. Manager of Program & Project Management, NBA Digital
Company: NBA Digital & TurnerSports
LinkedIn: Nakib Khandaker
In 140 characters or less, tell us who you are and how you got to where you are today.
My Bangladeshi parents instilled me with grit, I’m passionate about sports so a combination of hard work, preparation, and luck got me here.
What’s one trend in media or marketing that you’re buying or selling?
We’ve seen short and direct videos prosper through platforms like Snapchat, Instagram stories, and now TikTok and I think there is still much more to come, I’m sure our withering attention spans doesn’t help. Instagram has poured more resources into their development of stories by allowing users to Go Live. The fact that YouTube is second only to Facebook in terms of active users speaks volumes to how influential these videos can be. So I’m buying that more organizations will start to leverage short videos to deliver their effective content.
How do you define engagement?
As a numbers guy, I am driven by the data while being fully aware that by treating our fans well, we can go a lot farther than just pushing out content. Engagement is varied on many levels from someone just attending a sporting event to interacting on a connected device. Mobile technology has unlocked so many new possibilities for the way fans interact and that has brought us more data. With data, we can develop more insights into the way our fans think, therefore allowing us to truly understand them and deliver relevant and engaging content. I think the true measure of engagement is how well do we understand our fans. Our goal is to be able to take a fan from initial engagement and help them seamlessly navigate the journey to becoming a super fan.
What’s a lesson in audience (fan) engagement that every marketer should learn?
That in this day and age, it doesn’t stop when athletes step off the court. Fans are enamored not just by how athletes perform but their day to day lives. With so many social media outlets, athletes can share their opinions, thoughts, and ideas in a click of a button. They can interact with fans about their progress in their designated sport but so many athletes have chosen to share their personal lives as well, creating a stronger connection with fans than ever before.
What’s the project or campaign that you’re proudest of? Why?
When I first started with NBA Digital in October 2017, I was overseeing the upcoming All-Star project. With being new to the role, it was challenging to navigate how to successfully run a large scale project with numerous teams involved: product, operations, development, technical product teams, quality assurance, data teams, sales, sponsorship, and third-party vendors. There were long hours, a lot of mistakes made, and simply a knowledge gap that wasn’t there. However, after many discussions with key stakeholders and help from colleagues, I was able to piece it together. After months of preparation and tireless work from all of our talented teams, we put together a successful All-Star experience across our various products. We received a ton of positive feedback on the content and experience that we provided for fans. It was deemed the best All-Star our organization put on for our digital products, content, executions, etc. This was not easy given all the other work going on in preparation for Playoffs, Draft, Summer League and the start of the 2018 NBA season. This is my proudest moment not only because it was my first major project but because it was a pleasure to see a group of individuals collaborating to ensure the larger mission was successful.
What are you working on right now? Any exciting future plans that you’re able to share?
We are in the midst of preparing for our Playoff projects and future plans entail tracking towards completing our must-launch Tentpole events, which include NBA Draft, NBA Awards, NBA Free Agency, and NBA Summer League. We are also working on launching our Fantasy and Gaming efforts. One of the growing and exciting efforts is our focus on our emerging products- ie augmented, mixed, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence!
What are you reading, listening to, and/or watching right now?
I have a very big “growth” mentality. I feel that it is imperative to continuously learn and refine your skills and natural abilities. While working I am also pursuing my Master’s Degree in Management at Harvard University so that has occupied most of my time. I’m currently reading “Real Influence” but I’m a huge fan of TED Talks and the “How I Built This” podcasts. Shamelessly, like everyone else, I’m currently enjoying “Tiger King” and “Better Call Saul” as my shows to watch. I’m also very excited about the “The Last Dance” airing soon!
As a connected fan, who’s your favorite athlete to follow on social media?
I really enjoyed following the late Kobe Byrant (RIP) on social media. Growing up, outside of my parents, I looked up to a few athletes as role models. Kobe embodied hard work, determination, and a passion to succeed- all things that I value. On social media, he showed how great of a husband and father he was, just how strong of a business acumen he developed, and his philanthropic endeavors- things that are very relatable and I strive to achieve.
What’s a piece of advice you received that you’re glad you ignored?
That you have to have a certain IQ, smarts, or natural talents to achieve great things. I believe with proper discipline, focus, and belief in yourself we are all capable of reaching our potential. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
What’s one element of the sports industry that you’d like to see change?
With fans being able to connect more directly with athletes, I don’t think leagues should penalize athletes for their thoughts or opinions. Athletes are bringing meaningful topics to the table, these topics are relevant and embedded in our daily conversations as well. Athletes can create greater fan engagement and set an example of how people with different beliefs can engage in a healthy dialogue. Athletes are becoming more than just athletes and they can truly change not just the game but the world by using their platform to be a positive influence.
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