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Special Project

Special Project
From the 8th Annual Shorty Awards

NBA Social Graphics

Entered in Photography and Graphics


Background / About This Entry

For decades, posters – oversized still photos with slight creasing that fans affixed to their walls with scotch tape and thumb tacks – have showcased the NBA's top players pulling off amazing hardwood feats.

While photos are still popular, the 'digital poster' has evolved into a social media graphic that highlights the game through special effects. And instead of sheetrock, they now live on digital walls – across social media.

Strategy and Execution

During last season alone, the NBA's dozen-plus specialized designers created volumes of these graphics to help enhance and deliver varying initiatives via the league's growing profiles. Basketball and player-themed social media graphics garnered more than 120 million interactions across the NBA Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages and handles (which constitute more than 1billion combined fans and followers). The league was successful in identifying relevant fan interests and creating timely, sharable graphics that represent them.

The top performing post was a graphic celebrating the Golden State Warriors' first NBA Finals berth since 1975. It accumulated more than 600,000 interactions on Facebook. On Father's Day the NBA created a graphic of 2015 Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala with their children – appealing to fan interests on and off the court.

NBA graphics stood out from others in the space due in great part to the team behind them. The NBA's dozen-plus designers helped the league create graphics that varied in artistic style. This team of digital artists introduced fans to visuals created via computer programs, by hand, and even with water color. This artistic blend kept graphics fresh and retained fan interest.


Why Does This Entry Deserve to Win?

The stats don't lie. NBA social media graphics captured and held fan attention throughout the year. The average NBA graphic received 120,000 interactions on Instagram, 60,000 on Facebook, and 2,000 on Twitter.

Through these social media graphics, the NBA brought fans closer to its best moments in real-time including:

• The Warriors' championship celebration

• Zach LaVine's Slam Dunk performance

• Karl-Anthony Towns' No. 1 overall selection in the NBA Draft

The league educated fans by illustrating player milestones, sharing in-depth stats on key match-ups, and celebrating the anniversaries of iconic performances. Fans engaged around these visual posts and sent them to friends, saved them as their wallpapers, and in some instances, used them as foundation for their own NBA-themed graphics.

The success of these graphics relies on the NBA's ability to illustrate ideas that engage fans before and throughout major live events.

The NBA is forward-looking enough to share graphics before key events and programs, but also flexible enough – through its design team – to capitalize on moments as they happen in real-time.


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