Cricket takes the lead in filling live sport void on social media in 2020

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India's Test series win over Australia would've helped further the ICC's social media efforts (ICC - Twitter)
India's Test series win over Australia would've helped further the ICC's social media efforts (ICC - Twitter)
  • The ICC has proven to be the leader in social media use and engagement in 2020's Covid-ravage sporting year, claiming top spot in BCW Sport's International Sports Federations Social Media Ranking.
  • With almost 60 million followers across all of its platforms, world cricket's governing body is substantially ahead of Fifa on 37 million.
  • BCW says federations can't just use social media for news posts anymore as entertainment now plays an integral part.

It might still be lagging behind soccer in terms of playing numbers, but world cricket is king when it comes social media.

The ICC claimed top spot in BCW Sport's International Sports Federations Social Media Ranking for 2020, an annual report for capturing "the social media footprint of international sports federations and provide insightful takeaways of how different content leads to different outcomes".

With almost 60 million followers across all of its platforms, world cricket's governing body is substantially ahead of FIFA, whose lack of a presence on Instagram meant they merely boasted in excess of 38 million.

Trailing far behind in third is the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), who have 12.2 million followers.

The ICC's ranking is also significant for the fact that it's still a non-Olympic sport and will it's apparent popularity could lead to more intensive efforts to indeed incorporate the code into the showpiece tournament.

It's latest edition in Tokyo this year remains shrouded in doubt due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On a broader level, Australia and India's thrilling Test series, which saw the Indians claim a remarkable 2-1 victory earlier this week, would definitely have helped to raise the profile of the game even further.

However, perhaps the biggest takeaway from the ICC "success" is that it fully embraced the need for alternative engagement with fans in the absence of regular bilateral series and tournaments as the virus raged on.

The federation itself had to cancel its high profile World T20 in Australia last year.

"It turned out to be the year of virtual engagement as a global health crisis pushed all interaction between stars, fans and rights holders into the digital sphere, raising the role of social media from important to central," BCW noted.

Prompted to address the lack of action, the ICC grew its Instagram follower count by a substantial 44% though they invested a lot of effort into it as well, evidenced by an average 18 videos being posted per day with average views of 357 722 per post.

Those posts also elicited an average 96 000 interactions respectively.

It also came out tops in the "True Reach" category, a metric that combines engagement over all the platforms.

While the ICC's industry can't be faulted, there's an argument to be made that they might be able to keep growing by focusing on quality of their posts, rather than just quantity.

The International Teqball Federation - a sport that combines elements of soccer and table tennis on a curve table - produced less than 2 videos per day, yet generates over 1 million views per post and grew their Instragram base by 37.8%.

The ICC also capitalised on the TikTok craze of 2020 to emerge as the federation with the most followers on that platform too.

According to BSW, the message of 2021 is clear: "The pandemic year 2020 has confirmed that social media is not only a platform from which to showcase sport, but also a place where the true relationship with fans can start and where a community can be cultivated.

"Improving engagement, increasingly focusing on community building and opening up to new channels is the path to success. And most importantly: The days of using social media accounts as news platforms are over. Entertainment is a must."  

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