Netball is a sport predominantly played in Commonwealth countries throughout the world.
In Northern Ireland the sport is undergoing changes which include the appointment of a new board, creation of a new strategic plan and the use of technology across various elements of the sport.
Geoff Wilson, Chair of Netball Northern Ireland commented, “Much has been written on the subject of live-streaming and for a smaller sport this represents an interesting platform to get our game out to those not only keen on netball but those who are yet to experience the game.”
Netball Northern Ireland’s journey on live streaming started in March this year when the organisation live-streamed an under 17 European Tournament which was hosted in Northern Ireland.
“We selected Facebook as a platform of choice due to the reach it could give us not only in Northern Ireland but also in the other countries involved in the tournament. Our primary aim was to increase the awareness of the sport rather than a commercial reason so it was important we engaged all the countries involved in the tournament in terms of sharing and promoting the live feed.” said Wilson
Over the week of the tournament the Netball Northern Ireland Facebook seen an increase of 14% in likes to their page, 43,305 views on the live stream with 260 shares and 988 comments posted.
Due to the success of the initial pilot, the Federation has now live streamed a number of other tournaments including a youth club tournament in April and an International series in June.
“We have been pleasantly surprised with the success of our live-streaming project. Feedback from local clubs and players as well as international visitors has been extremely positive. So what have we learnt? Well, for us live-streaming gives us a good platform to promote our sport, interaction on our Facebook is much higher compared to a standard post, live commentary is an important aspect and we need to work with all teams involved in a tournament in terms of promoting when we go live during a tournament.”
The Federation has not just stopped at Facebook live. At the international series in June this year, the organisation worked alongside sports tech company, SportsCarver, to create and pilot a Facebook Messenger bot. The bot allowed friends of Netball Northern Ireland Facebook page to play interactive games against their friends based around the international series. A range of netball quizzes and predict the score games were created to help drive engagement and grow the Facebook following on Netball NI page.
This was the first time such technology was used which generated 7% of growth in likes over the 3 days through shares or cross-posting.
Wilson said, “The pilot was great for us to trial a completely new way of delivering targeted content. The aim of the pilot was to improve engagement rates and likes to our facebook site. The team at SportsCarver really took us step by step through the process and we have identified a number of learnings for the future.
Geoff runs his own Sports Consultancy, working with clients such as FIFA, UEFA and FIBA across the world. He is also on the board of Tourism Northern Ireland. You can follow Geoff on twitter @geoffwnjwilson or connect on Linkedin at linkedin.com/in/geoffwnjwilson