Hockey compresses entire winter into a September surge


Hockey clubs and associations around the country didn’t flinch when Covid lockdowns shuttered their sport just as the season was getting started. Instead, they took the hit and regrouped before putting their foot on the gas from June onwards capping-off a stunning comeback with three months’ worth of Facebook engagement in September alone.

A five-year Shunt analysis (2015-19) of hockey clubs and associations has shown that the number of posts published is up 52%, while audience engagement has climbed 165% and the performance of posts (an engagement to productivity ratio) has also improved by 75%.

Productivity flicks into top gear

Hockey clubs and associations have steadily climbed new productivity heights for each of the last five years with total Facebook posts published increasing from 35,369 in 2015 to a massive 53,635 last year (an increase of 18,266 per annum).  

Million mark within sight

Easily one of the most impressive statistics from the sports grassroots is its engagement profile (all Facebook reactions, comments and shares) with the 368 monitored clubs and associations delivering a five-year growth result of 165% (equivalent to an additional 603,745 engagements).

This put hockey clubs and associations tantalising close to the magic million mark for Facebook engagement, if only 2020 hadn’t come along in a classic case of what might have been.  

Performance Push

The real test of how healthy and robust a sports social media presence is the performance of posts published. This simple ratio that divides total engagement by the number of posts is a key indicator of how efficient and effective they are.

When engagement growth far exceeds increasing productivity levels the net result is continual improvement in hockey clubs and associations post performance.

With the average number of engagements per post close to doubling from 10.34 (2015) to 18.07 (2019) it suggests the sports clubland are becoming more and more effective in how they manage their time on social media.

A sure sign of a sport that has a handle on its social media and the delicate interplay between informing and engaging audiences.

Then along came Covid…..

Shunt has recently published industry-wide research examining the impact Covid-19 and associated lockdowns have had on the sector.

The 2020 Q1 productivity and engagement profiles indicate the sport was on track for another big year, unfortunately hockey couldn’t get into the ‘D’ to take a shot for the million plus mark due to the implementation of nationwide lockdowns in April.

Testament to the resilience of clubs and associations they took the hit to the sport on the chin, reorganised themselves and then came out firing for both productivity and engagement with three months’ worth of Facebook audience ‘love’ the reward in September alone.

Back with a vengeance

Like every other sport that Shunt has analysed to date hockey clubs and associations productivity profile was building nicely from 2,641 published posts in January to a 4,439 peak in March. Then it hit.

Content publishing plummeted to 2,400 in April as lockdowns bit but this was just the beginning, with each month recording a steady climb in outputs with a surge in July followed by a brief lull before an even bigger effort in September.

Despite everything the sport has achieved in 2020 productivity outputs are still well down on previous years with just two-months remaining the tally stands at 35,779. This likely means the sport will better 2016 totals but it will struggle to match the 2017 result. A bitter pill to swallow we’re sure considering the huge effort to close out a massively disrupted season on a high.

September surge

One of the truisms of social media is that if you don’t publish you won’t get an audience response. Equally, the more you post, typically the higher the engagement as is the case here when comparing hockey clubs productivity and engagement profiles.

All the effort the sport put into finishing the season on a high with a massive ramp-up of productivity was repaid with interest by Facebook fans. The highlight being easily one of the most impressive statistics Shunt has seen to date with a September 95,208 result.  

This suggests hockey fans are both receptive and highly responsive to the content clubs post. The takeaway here is that perhaps the fastest way for hockey to get back within striking distance of the million plus milestone is simply to post more often? 

The collective comeback by hockey clubs and associations can’t change the fact they won’t be climbing the same heady heights as 2019 with total reactions, comments and shares as the end of October 2020 standing at 518,863.

Based on current form 2016 levels will be passed, but the 2017 total of just under 700,000 will likely remain out of reach which in itself represents a massive achievement considering the turbulent year and rotten timing hockey has endured.   

Queensland cover

As at the end of November 2020 it was a pretty comfortable result for the Brisbane Women’s Hockey Association as the only organisation across the country to have cracked the +3,000 audience milestone. From here on down it was mostly a Queensland clean sweep but for several NSW clubs and associations spoiling the party.  

North beats East as most prolific publisher

The Norths, Newcastle and Easts duked it out for bragging rights as to who was the powerhouse publisher of grassroots hockey nationally. If we were to pick a winner based on effort it would actually be Easts Hockey who despite finishing second have built-out their content publishing capabilities at a rapid rate. Starting with just five posts in 2015, to 27, then 101, 589 and eventually 587 in 2019.

It’s always great to see a mix of clubs and associations from around the country in the Shunt Top-10 with South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania making the cut along with the usual suspects from NSW and Queensland.

Looking to 2020, as at the end of October it’s all change at the top with Gympie Hockey (GDHA) the most prolific poster to date on 483 posts. In what is a super tight race in second at present is Wagga Hockey (477) followed by Easts Hockey (456).

Ryde tops Townsville in tight race

Looking to last years combined reactions, comments and shares result on Facebook it was the Ryde Hunters Hill District Hockey Club that snatched top honours from a hard-charging Townsville Hockey club who have been getting better and better at working out what audiences want.

With just the two clubs breaking through the +20,000 barrier it was left to a Victorian club, Southern United to get closest to the lead pair. Good to see a Western Australian club make an appearance in this Top-10 with congratulations extended to the Melville City Hockey Club on a job well done.

In what has been a year unlike any other, the Albion Park Men are currently holding sway over the Albion Park Women by virtue of a 16,577 to 9,413 split (we can’t have that!). It will be interesting to see if the women can claw back the deficit with a couple of months to go (challenge thrown and accepted?). Completing the top three is the Alstonville Hockey Club on 7,875 total reactions, comments and shares.

TEMHC the balance masters

Shunt’s performance metric is all about striking the right balance between content quality and quantity with the Toorak East Malvern Hockey Club (TEMHC) the most effective club in the land when it comes to the return on their content investment (55.60).

Townsville Hockey Association are certainly one to watch having rapidly improved their post performance from a 6.29 average in 2015 to 41.80 result last year with Southern United Hockey Club a nose in front of fellow Victorian organisation Footscray Hockey Club.

Research notes;

368 Hockey clubs and associations from around Australia with a Facebook page were analysed as part of this report. Results are for Facebook only. Annual data from January 2015 to December 2019 inclusive. 2020 results from January to October inclusive

Uncertain as to what 2021 has in store?
You’re not the only one! Throughout this year, Shunt has doubled-down on its work with our state and national sports clients to proactively expand their situational awareness. If you also want your ‘socials’ to deliver actionable insights that ensure you don’t just survive, but thrive then let’s chat. Get in touch at



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