In the latest of our series looking behind the scenes with those in charge of key areas of Irish sport on social media, Sport for Business caught up with Mary McGuire of Basketball Ireland as she builds up to the busiest couple of days of the winter, the Hula Hoops National Cup Finals weekend.
What is your official title within your organisation?
Mary McGuire, Media and Communications Manager at Basketball Ireland and I am also the lead for Women in Sport for Basketball Ireland.
What is the social media reach of your organisation and which media are you active on?
Across our three main channels of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter we have a combined following of almost 50,000. We are extremely active across all three platforms and all three channels continue to experience big growth year on year.
What are the best performing social media channels for you?
This is a tricky one, as we target different platforms differently throughout the season. Overall, Facebook has always been a fantastic platform for us, and one that we use regularly to live stream our games and help push key content out to our followers. Instagram is one of our fastest-growing platforms though, and the engagement we are getting and the growth we have experienced there have been extremely impressive, particularly over the past 12 months. Instagram is perfect for basketball as it allows us to showcase some of the best action and video clips from around the league every weekend and is a great platform for us to promote the game.
We introduced a #ThursdayTakeover on our Instagram stories this season, which sees Irish players who are currently playing basketball abroad take control of our stories each Thursday and that has been a huge success for us. Twitter is our go-to platform for fans who want live updates from games as and when they happen across the weekend, and this has proven to be particularly popular with basketball fans who are living abroad, as they can keep up with the results and scores throughout the weekend.
What do you see as the optimum balance between social media as information on one hand and promotion on the other?
With so many games happening in our National Leagues every weekend, information is key for our fans who want to keep up to date with all of the results and they can find live action from courtside on our Twitter account.
Of course, promotion is an important element of what we do, particularly when it comes to big events such as our Cup finals, our League finals and the upcoming European Championships, but we manage and tailor content for each platform to ensure fans get a well-rounded view of everything that is going on or upcoming in Irish basketball, with all channels linking directly back to our main host – www.basketballireland.ie.
What has been your favourite piece of Social Media content that you have produced over the past 12 months?
The Jr. NBA championship supported by DeCare Dental has been a fantastic partnership that started in 2018 and is certainly one of my favourite events to work at. The highlights wrap video which the team produced from each of the Jr. NBA events has been some of my favourite content to work with, as the kids really enjoy the day, they love getting to meet the NBA ambassador who comes to the event and of course, they love getting to play up at the National Basketball Arena for the day as well.
While there have been many highlights for Irish basketball in the past 12 months including the Under 20 women winning a bronze medal in Europe, the Hula Hoops Cup finals, the 3×3 Championships and of course, our Hall of Fame induction ceremony earlier this year, the Jr. NBA content has to be one of the standouts for me. In saying that, getting to interview some of the legends of Irish basketball after they were inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall of Fame has also been one of my big highlights in content this year.
And your favourite use or campaign by someone else either in Ireland or on an international basis?
I really love this piece rolled out by Balls.ie ahead of the Hula Hoops Cup semi-finals earlier this month. They really captured the importance of basketball for Ballincollig basketball club in Cork, and how the club is so intricately interwoven into the heart of the community. The power of sport in small towns and villages around the country and the love of the game really shines through in this piece. Outside of basketball, the 20×20 campaign and their content creation around that has been a firm standout for me this past 12 months.
How much of your time would you estimate is devoted to updating social media?
A lot! Social media never switches off and if we’re not live-tweeting game action at weekends, we are planning and strategizing about where the next few months are going to take us across all platforms. The fact that Basketball Ireland is hosting a Senior Men’s European Basketball championships at the University of Limerick this summer means we have an action-packed calendar ahead, so we are busy planning for that on top of all our regular-season action.
What is your personal favourite channel?
As a sports fan, I would have to say Twitter as it’s great for live updates of games as they happen and for keeping on top of the latest breaking news. Instagram is definitely a close second though!
Tell us something that made you think that you came across on social media?
I really loved the below roll out by the 20×20 campaign calling on all fans to become the audience. I thought it was such a thought-provoking piece of content and hopefully resonated far and wide.
And something that made you laugh?
I’ve been away with a lot of Irish international teams on the European stage over the past number of years, but by far one of the best laughs we got was this summer, as almost every team had a series of blooper reels. This is just one of many videos that gave us all a giggle this summer and while not a very high-quality piece in terms of production – mainly thanks to the fact that I couldn’t stop laughing – this video will definitely be a funny memory for me.
Take a look at the thoughts and work of Lisa Hayden from the GAA, Jackie Cahill from Ladies Gaelic Football Association and Rob O’Leary from AIB who have appeared in the series so far. Read More.
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Image Credit: Piaras O Midheach, Sportsfile