June 2020 saw the return of the Premier League, the gradual re-opening of training facilities up and down the country and the announcement of fixtures and new formats across a range of sports. It feels as if the Irish sporting landscape is slowly returning to a ‘new normal’.
June was also a month that should have seen Euro 2020 action at the Aviva Stadium and the lighting of the Olympic Torch in Tokyo, generating conversation, content and debate on social networks for sporting bodies across the country.
It is not surprising the overall volume of conversations across the main social platforms has decreased. However, the clarity and communication continue to impress fans and followers, with rights holders and governing bodies working to ensure and communicate a safe and manageable resumption of activity.
As more sports return to action both on and off the field, we expect to see a reversing of this recent trend in the months ahead. Organisations’ social media teams must be applauded for how they have adapted during the past few months, and we expect a resurgence of conversations on social platforms as the Irish public embraces the return of live sport in the new post Covid-19 era.
In June 2020, the 29 organisations analysed as part of the monthly Sport for Business / Olytico analysis, all members of Sport for Business, published over 5,300 social media posts across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, a decrease of 9 per cent on May. This is the third month in a row that we have seen this trend, illustrating the value and engagement of live sport.
Despite the drop in volume, the 5,320 posts analysed still generated over 1.1 million engagements in the form of likes, shares, comments, and retweets. This was a decrease of 18 per cent on May.
Instagram continues to top the charts for engagements (likes and comments) in 2020, and whilst June saw a dip of 20 per cent in Instagram’s total number of engagements (from 975,643 to 781,764 it still generated over 70 per cent of the total engagement across all three platforms.
Twitter’s share of engagement rose slightly to 10 per cent with Facebook staying consistent with 19 per cent of overall engagements.
Robbie Brady’s goal against Italy in Euro 2016 and a look back at Ireland’s victory against England in Euro 88 with Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan were the big winners in the engagement stakes.
They were joined by the IRFU on Instagram with some non-sport related content proving to be popular with fans and players alike.
In the infographics below, we have ranked each of the organisations across a range of metrics on each network, including the most active, the most engaged, and the most engaging content.
It is important to note that this analysis is based on publicly available data. It does not include any analysis or insight on paid or promoted content.
June 2020 Highlights on Twitter
There was no change at the top of the Most Active rankings on Twitter in June, with the GAA leading the way for the fourth month in a row (491 posts – down 8 per cent on May), holding off Ulster Rugby for the third month in a row (273 posts – down 20 per cent on May).
They were joined in the top three for the first time since March by Ladies Football, their 260 posts (up 9 per cent on May) focused on the return to action on pitches across the country and their tweet on June 5th announcing the safe return to Gaelic Games generated the most engagement.
Athletics Ireland (5th with 138 posts) and Swim Ireland (6th with 136 posts) both rose in the tables once again, with increases in their output of 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively.
Athletics Ireland’s content included a 4-week virtual challenge, which proved to be very popular across multiple channels.
The FAI dropped from 6th to 10th in the rankings with a 28 per cent decrease in output (144 posts in May compared to 104 posts in June).
Despite this, and for the third month in a row, the FAI claimed top spot in the Twitter Engagement rankings, with an incredible 82 per cent increase on their average engagement per post (187 to 340 average engagements per post).
Leinster Rugby (average of 97 engagements per post) pipped Irish Rugby (88) in to second place.
Five of the top seven spots were taken by rugby accounts with Cricket Ireland disrupting the status quo with an average of 36 engagements per post, rising from 9th to 6th in the rankings.
Paralympics Ireland, Swim Ireland and Basketball Ireland all impressed – their average engagement stats rose 76 per cent, 73 per cent and 51 per cent respectively.
In keeping with the trend for June, the Paralympics Ireland post celebrating the return to training of their athletes generated their highest engagement levels.
The success of the FAI’s engagement stats for the past few months can be traced to the celebration of iconic moments, and Robbie Brady’s goal against Italy on 22nd June 2016 proved to be the standout content on Twitter.
Brady’s dramatic late winner in the 85th minute, which saw Ireland qualify for the knockout stages of the competition generated close to 5,000 public engagements and the video has had over 348,000 views to date across all the FAI platforms.
June 2020 Highlights on Facebook
There was a small (3%) decrease in posts published on Facebook in May, but the top three accounts all increased their output.
For the third month in a row the GAA topped the activity tables (up 3 per cent with 347 posts), but they were followed by a new entry into the top three as the return to Racing saw Horse Racing Ireland smash previous activity levels rising from 13th to 2nd place with 197 posts.
Ulster Rugby continue to lead the rugby charts on Facebook, posting on over 170 occasions, putting them in 3rd place overall.
Benefitting from being one of the first sports back, the return to action on 8th June provided Horse Racing Ireland and racing fans with much-craved live action and their video of Ger Lyons watching Siskin win the 2,000 Guineas generated over 2,000 reactions.
Badminton Ireland increased their output by 46 per cent which included their very successful ‘Return to Badminton’ webinar content.
June also saw a fall in average engagements per post on Facebook (down 21 per cent).
There were some notable exceptions, including Ladies Gaelic Football (+9 per cent), Connacht Rugby (+13 per cent) and a significant 72 per cent increase from Camogie thanks to the announcement of their return to play plan and the launch of their new PR-Óg initiative.
For the third month in a row, the FAI had the single most engaged with piece of content. A video of Ray Houghton and Ronnie Whelan recalling that magical day on 12th June 1988, when Ireland beat England at Euro 88, generated over 7,800 public engagements in the form of likes, shares and comments.
June 2020 Highlights on Instagram
Mirroring their success and output on Facebook, Horse Racing Ireland top the Instagram Activity charts for the first time; their 105 posts tripled their output compared to the previous month, with their highest engagement rate once again coming from Siskin’s 2,000 Guineas victory.
Tattersall’s, the sponsor of the 2,000 Guineas benefitted from this increased activity as the hashtag #tattersallsguineasfestival featured in 19 of HRI’s posts, approximately 20% of all content.
Athletics Ireland (96 posts) and Leinster Rugby (60 posts) came across the line in 2nd and 3rd place, Athletics Ireland content including a takeover from athlete Nadia Power and promotion of their 4-week virtual challenge.
Basketball Ireland’s Instagram account clearly communicated the return to play developments and protocols to their followers, doubling their output and content compared to May (from 23 to 45 posts).
However, it was rugby that regained the top spot in the engagement stakes in June with the IRFU (4,869), Munster Rugby (2,635) and Leinster Rugby (2,485) filling the top 3 spots based on average engagements per post. The IRFU generated over 250,000 total engagements, beating Leinster’s May total by 27,000 (+14 per cent).
It was an impressive month for Gymnastics Ireland, their 10 posts generated an average of 428 engagements, quadrupling their figures from May and putting them in a very respectable 11th place. Their most engaged with post confirmed the sports return to action on 29th June.
The most engaged with piece of Instagram content for June was not action based, it didn’t feature anything sport related but perhaps reflected a collective sigh of relief from the nation with the reopening of hairdressers. The image – a ‘before and after’ shot from Conor Murray’s headshot portfolio – was liked by over 15,300 fans and generated the highest number of comments for the IRFU in June.
If you would like to be part of the Sport for Business community and be added to the list, email us today and let’s see what is possible. If you would like a more detailed analysis of your social media activity, contact firstname.lastname@example.org