March 2021 set a new record for Irish sporting organisations on social media as engagements passed the 4 million mark for the first time.

Across the Sport for Business member organisations, engagements rose 65 per cent compared to February 2021, to just over 4.3 million in total. This huge increase was driven by Instagram which saw a 62 per cent jump in engagements compared to the previous month, from just over 2.17 million to 3.53 million on the platform. Instagram accounted for 82 per cent of all engagements across the three main platforms analysed.

For context, the previous record for engagements, set in October 2020 was 3.24 million, and this month’s engagements shattered that record by 33 per cent.

Olytico analysed the performance of 30 members of Sport for Business in March. Collectively, they published over 8,000 posts across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The 8,019 posts analysed (a 45 per cent increase on the previous month) generated 4,306,457 engagements in the form of likes, shares, comments, and retweets.

It is the first time in four months that overall activity across all three of the main platforms increased, with activity at its highest level since November 2020. Twitter activity was up 50 per cent, Facebook posts increased by 39 per cent and Instagram activity was up 43 per cent compared to February 2021.

After a year of Irish sport having been affected by Covid-19, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on how impressive the Sports for Business member organisations have been during a testing twelve months, and for comparative purposes compared to March 2020 social media posts are up 24 per cent (6,461 in March 2020 to just over 8,000 in March 2021) and engagements compared to March 2020 have seen a dramatic increase of 208% from 1.3 million to this month’s record 4.3 million

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.


March 2021 Highlights on Twitter



Over 4,250 tweets were sent by member organisations in March, as mentioned earlier this was 50 per cent up on the previous month; this increase in output was reflected by an incredible 202 per cent increase in engagements compared to February (199,913 to 403, 864) – the platforms highest ever figures.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Twitter’s share of overall posts increased by 2 per cent to 53 per cent, and whilst this is not the platform’s highest ever overall share (that record being set in November 2020 with 57 per cent) the platform’s continued relevance is evident.

With the last rounds of the Guinness Six Nations and the final stages of the regular PRO14 season, the top five accounts for activity were dominated by rugby accounts.

With an all-Irish Guinness PRO14 Final to enjoy, Leinster and Munster were first and third respectively, with Horse Racing Ireland sandwiched in second place. Leinster Rugby was the most active account on Twitter, their 441 posts across March represented a 66 per cent increase on February’s activity. Horse Racing Ireland, in second place for the second month in a row with a 38 per cent increase in activity compared to February (an increase from 282 to 388 posts), slightly ahead of Munster Rugby in third place with 367 posts (a 70 per cent increase on their activity from February). Irish Rugby (362 posts, an increase of 23 per cent from February) were in fourth and Ulster Rugby with 336 posts (an increase of 40 per cent on February’s activity) in fifth.

All but four of the member organisations analysed increased their content on Twitter compared to February, with special mentions to Gymnastics Ireland (an increase of 273 per cent), Badminton Ireland (an increase of 240 per cent) and Irish Hockey (with an increase of 227 per cent). Gymnastics Ireland’s #IWD2021 content featured in their top 3 tweets for March, Badminton Ireland’s content focus on success for players, Sam and Chloe Magee and Nhat Nguyen, while Irish Hockey’s account reflected success on the pitch as they took on Great Britain in the Softco Series, their most engaged with tweet following a 2-1 victory on the 14th March.

In the engagement stakes, there was no change in the top three for the fourth month in a row, with the FAI (with an average of 476 engagements per post, a 17 per cent decrease on February), Irish Rugby (355 per post, an increase of 65 per cent on February) and Munster Rugby (127 per post, an increase of 38 per cent) continuing to lead the way.

Hockey Ireland’s average engagement per post increased 220 per cent to 62 per post, resulting in their highest ever position of fifth. Similarly, Horse Racing Ireland leapt into their highest ever position of eighth with an average of 43 engagements per post. Their top post celebrating Rachael Blackmore’s success at Cheltenham generated over 3,300 likes and 170 retweets.


Olympic qualification resulted in impressive months for the Team Ireland and Irish Sailing accounts as they saw their average engagement figures rise by 18 per cent and 330 per cent respectively.

The IRFU claimed the top spot for Twitter content engagement in February. Their post thanking CJ Stander after his last game for Ireland generated over 9,000 likes, over 700 retweets and the video has been viewed over 170,000 times, showing the impact the Munster man made in the green jersey.


March 2021 Highlights on Facebook



Facebook activity increased for the first time in four months, with a 39 per cent increase from February (from 1,701 to 2,363 posts), the platform’s highest level of activity since November 2020. This was reflected in the platform’s engagement figures which grew 61 per cent month on month from 232,394 to 375,280. Whilst Facebook’s overall share of posts fell slightly by 2 per cent to 29 per cent overall, the platform’s share of engagement stayed at 9 per cent.

With the increase in activity, we saw a completely new top three in the activity charts for the second month in a row, Leinster Rugby following up their Twitter success with the top spot with 265 posts (an increase of 65 per cent from 161 posts). Their top three posts celebrated: Ireland’s victory against England, Robbie Henshaw’s nomination for Player of the Championship, and their fourth Guinness PRO14 Championship in a row (their ‘8 times’ post generated over 3,000 engagements).

Horse Racing Ireland’s impressive month continued with their second place in the Facebook activity table (217 posts, +221 per cent vs Feb). Their top post ‘Follow. Your. Dreams.’ celebrating Rachael Blackmore’s crowning as the top jockey of the Cheltenham Festival generated over 2,000 engagements.

The Ladies Gaelic Football account re-entered the top three for the first time since December 2020 (170 posts, +21 per cent vs Feb). Their top post featured a stunning image of TG4 Senior Players’ Player of the Year Aimee Mackin and generated close to 700 engagements.

The GAA (166 posts) and Cricket Ireland (161 posts) completed the top five. Special mentions to Basketball Ireland who announced ambitious plans for 8 to 10 Centres of Excellence nationwide (78 posts +86 per cent vs Feb), Cycling Ireland who celebrated Sam Bennett’s maiden World Tour one-day race win in Brugge (+57 per cent vs Feb) and Triathlon Ireland who launched their ‘Run and Ride’ training programme for 2021 (+67 per cent vs Feb).

Once again, Irish Rugby was in a league of its own in terms of Facebook engagement. With almost 1,800 engagements per post, there is no doubting the quality of the content they continue to deliver to their 615,000 followers on the platform.

Outside the Top 3, only one engagement per post separated those ranked 4th – 7th and it was Paralympics Ireland in seventh spot who made the most eye-catching move of the month. Their 197 engagements per post average was helped in no small part by the medal success of Britney Arendse, who lifted 102kg to finish third in the Women’s 67kg category at the World Para-Powerlifting World Cup in Manchester.

The two least-active organisations – Ireland Lacrosse and Pentathlon Ireland (4 posts each) – generated 114 and 96 engagements per post respectively, placing both within the Top 12 and suggesting a definite appetite amongst their followers for more content.

For the second month in a row an Irish victory in the Guinness Six Nations, this time against England, took the award for most engaged with Facebook content in March, the post at full-time of the 32-18 victory generating over 14,200 reactions, 900 comments and was shared almost 3,000 times.


March 2021 Highlights on Instagram




Instagram saw a 43 per cent increase in posts compared to February, up from 979 to 1,398 posts, the platform’s highest ever figure. This record number of posts resulted in a record number of engagements for the platform, up 62 per cent from February to over 3.5 million – the first time the platform has ever broken the 3 million engagements per month barrier. The platform’s overall share of posts and engagements both fell 1% when compared to the previous month, to 17 per cent and 82 per cent respectively.

For context, we have been analysing and commenting on the increasing importance of the platform over the last twelve months and compared to March 2020, Instagram’s share of posts is up 7 points (from 10 per cent to 17 per cent) and share of engagements are up 11 points (71 per cent to 82 per cent).

There was no change in the top three of the Instagram activity charts, Irish Rugby topping the activity charts with 194 posts (up 10 per cent on February), followed by Leinster Rugby with 168 (+79 per cent vs Feb) and Munster Rugby with 149 (+66 per cent vs Feb).

The big movers were the FAI: with a number of international fixtures in March they moved up to fourth place with 102 posts. Similarly, Horse Racing Ireland moved in to fifth place with 98 posts, their highest position since July.

The Camogie Association, in their highest ever position of eighth, used Instagram extensively for their Liberty Ireland All Stars content, however their most engaged with post celebrated #InternationalWomensDay on March 8th and generated over 1,000 engagements.

Golf Ireland’s new umbrella social media accounts are paying dividends, none more so than their Instagram account with activity up 56 per cent on their first month – the organisation’s most popular post proclaiming the #backtogolf return date.


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A post shared by Golf Ireland (@golfireland2021)

There was no change in the top 4 positions for the Instagram engagement charts. Irish Rugby retaining their top place for the sixth month in a row, with an average of 8,491 engagements per post (+15 per cent vs Feb). This is the highest average engagement figure since July 2020 (set by the FAI with 10,583 engagements per post).  The FAI are in second place with an average of 5,969 engagements per post (+24 per cent vs Feb), with Munster fighting off Leinster for third place (3,002 average engagements per post, +17 per cent vs Feb).

These four accounts (Irish Rugby, FAI, Munster Rugby, and Leinster Rugby) with their large followings and increased output for March drove the platform’s impressive figures.

Athletics Ireland entered the top ten for the first time with an average of 613 engagements per post. Their most engaged with content celebrated a new personal best for Sarah Lavin, with the post generating over 2,500 interactions (likes and comments).

The top Instagram post for March completes a hat-trick for the IRFU, CJ Stander’s post-match thank you message to fans generating over 75,000 interactions (link).


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