Our look at the @AFL’s massive season on Twitter, TV and in the stadium

Friday, 3 October 2014

The @AFL rose above the pack again in the 2014 season, with crowds the biggest in years, TV ratings on the up and Twitter activity off the charts, including the biggest Grand Final day ever on Twitter as @HawthornFC dominated the @SydneySwans!

Footy fans harnessed the live, public and conversational power of Twitter to get closer to the action than ever before, connecting with other fans, players, coaches and officials in real-time.

  • Overall conversation on Twitter about AFL grew by 33% on last season
  • The AFL account averaged over 23 million impressions per month
  • Tweets during the #AFLGF saw 9.2 million impressions on Twitter
  • @AFL follower numbers grew by a whopping 28% across the season, with a 200x bump on their daily follows on #AFLGF day alone
  • AFL related Twitter accounts are followed by over 1.3 million unique fans

These are some of the biggest numbers we have ever seen in Australian sport and are testament to the amazing work done by the digital and editorial team at AFL Media.

AFL Social Media Manager, Tyson Densley, said, ”The 2014 season was enormous for AFL on Twitter, and the off-season is just as fast-paced. As more of our fans join the platform for great videos, pics and the latest news, our engagement continues to rise and we love the instant feedback and interaction with fans.”

While smashing it on Twitter, the AFL have also seen huge crowds and TV ratings. With almost 7 million fans attending games in 2014 and huge television audiences (108.7 million watched the 198 matches of the 2014 home and away season on Channel 7 and Foxtel).

This combination of massive attendances, TV ratings and Twitter engagement highlights the ability of the AFL to meet the new needs of increasingly mobile fans — whenever and wherever.

Twitter is the ultimate companion to the fans’ game day experience, whether watching the game on TV, sitting in the stadium with 75,000 passionate fans or out-and-about on the move.

Following in the footsteps of the NBA and NFL, the AFL were among the first sporting codes in the country to provide fans instant replays directly via Twitter. Utilising Twitter’s SnappyTV technology, they could Tweet video highlights on game day within minutes, available to fans with only one tap.

This touching moment from the #AFLGF was on Twitter moments after happening on the Grand Final stage:

Here’s @HawthornFC’s joyous celebrations after the final siren

While understanding the value of video to fans on Twitter, the AFL also have one of the best game day photo strategies in the country. The @AFLPhotos team provide amazing photos for fans directly on Twitter, only moments after taking the snaps!

During the AFL’s night of nights, they used the Twitter Vine360 Booth on the #Brownlow Red Carpet. To date we’ve seen almost 1 million views (loops) of the videos, which is the largest number of Vine360 Booth views in Australia since the technology was introduced!

The @AFL have certainly put on a Twitter masterclass across the 2014 season. If you’re looking for inspiration for your Twitter strategy their account is a great place to start:

  • Tweet regularly and every day of the week - AFL send at least 25 tweets a day
  • Tweet across the entire day - AFL send tweets from 7am to midnight
  • Be available - AFL answer questions and engage from 8am to 11pm every day
  • Use photos - AFL have access to amazing photos and tweet them every day, including multiple photo uploads.
  • Utilize video - AFL use Twitter’s native video player for one-tap-to-view video
  • Tweet Vine videos - AFL use Vine for all sorts of behind-the-scenes access
  • Own your own content - AFL regularly tweet breaking news and exclusives
  • Provide access - AFL won an AFMA Award for their #AskTheCoach campaign where all 18 AFL coaches took over their account for live Twitter Q&A with fans

“We use Twitter to bring fans closer to the game, and along with the great Tweets from all of our clubs, players and even coaches, fans are able to enjoy a behind-the-scenes look into the happenings across the league every day. We look forward to building on this with some exciting new integrations with Twitter in the lead-up to the next season,” Densley said.

Here are a few of our favourite AFL tweets from across the 2014 season that showcase their comprehensive, diverse and effective Twitter strategy:

So with the footy season almost behind us, it’s time for fans to start thinking about the massive Summer of Sport ahead. The @ALeague kicks off next weekend and it’s time for us to celebrate our #BeautifulGame, the #SpringRacing Carnival is hurtling down the main straight, @CricketAUS are ready and raring to go and our love affair of all things @AustralianOpen will continue early next year…. not to mention the massive @CricketWorldCup on home soil in February.

Twitter… and sport… never sleeps in this country. Bring it on!