success story
sucess story

How the Detroit Pistons took their fan experience up a major notch with Drop

The NBA team uncovers how to foster 1:1 connection with their audience even off the court

This is how the Detroit Pistons do it.

With 1.4 Million fans on just Instagram, the beloved Detroit Pistons know how to present their storied history and current successes with fresh ideas and innovations.

the problem

Nothing connects a sports team better to its fans than an IRL game. But as team recognition becomes increasingly global and catastrophic events like COVID underline the importance of digital connection, the Pistons were left wondering, how do we foster that 1:1 feeling on the web? More specifically, how can a sports team leverage social to be closer to online spectators, delivering a personalized and intimate fan experience at their fingertips?

the strategy

Centered on their multiple projects across ticketing, merch, limited clothing capsules, and special events, the Pistons sought to craft a one-of-a-kind experience on social, stoking real fan engagement and loyalty-building initiatives through their Instagram Direct Message inbox. By connecting 1:1 to their audience through a channel that allows for real-time personalizations and seamless fan journeys, the Pistons were able to realize this goal. Leveraging Drop, the NBA team has rolled out a series of DM-first campaigns, moving social audiences into an automated experience rooted in direct connection and genuine engagement.

the solution


Starting off their IG DM initiative with a bang, The Pistons rolled out an engaging 1:1 social campaign that played into all the buzz and speculation that circulates around the first home game of the NBA season. After asking their audience to send in their best guess via DM, the team followed up with their fans with the full schedule with the link to purchase single-game tickets and sign up for email updates.


Jersey day is a big day for the NBA, but it's a little more personal in a city like Detroit. Pistons jerseys have always been deeply rooted in the city's history, so asking their Instagram Audience to share which rendition they choose to wear in the DM was a natural way to spark a connection. While fans divulged what they wore, the team uncovered valuable insights while offering a personalized discount on their next jersey purchase.


Giveaways are common in the social media sphere, but Instagram Direct Messages at scale take it to a whole new level. For a giveaway that would bring the lucky winner to Paris to watch their game against the Chicago Bulls, the Pistons shared a gamified experience that was a play on Where's Waldo, but instead with their mascot Hopper. Rather than making the customer journey long and clunky with off-app landing pages, those interested could sign up right in the DM.


The city of Detroit is so connected to the team due in part to the growth and attention the Pistons have brought to the town. When launching their Detroit vs. Everybody collection, they looked to their fans to collect feedback and grow excitement, allowing them to preview the capsule, share their favorite pieces, and get first dibs on purchasing, all in the DM.

key metrics

Throughout these Drop initiatives, Piston's Instagram DM campaigns have shown their ability to foster more engagement and connection, much higher than traditional outlets. From their ticketing campaign, which had 22% of all participants landing on their ticket site, to their Detroit vs. Everybody capsule launch, which had nearly half of all DM entries opening their collection's preview, this new strategy allows fans to engage seamlessly and take action quickly. This proved to be true across their Paris Giveaway as well, which gathered almost 10,000 emails with no landing page, and their Jersey Day engagement, collecting insights as detailed as their favorite jersey from 70% of their DM audience.

the results

Since their inception with Drop four months ago, the Detroit Pistons have delivered a unique and exciting fan experience, doubling the average engagement rate with their Instagram audience and converting 65% of this newfound DM group into marketable leads organically.

Organic Engagement
Email Opt-In Rate
“Empowering brands around us to be
heard and valued”
Benjamin Benichou
Founder and CEO at Drop

"I spent 10+ years helping DTC brands grow their social audiences and maximize their engagement. They all struggled with moving their followers from social to storefront. Drop is that missing step"

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