Softball on the run home after pause in play

0

The impact of Covid lockdowns on softball clubs and associations were swift and deep taking the sport several months of flat productivity before it got back on its feet. Once it did though it just kept coming with clubland not only picking up where they left-off but sweeping past pre-Covid levels by the end of October with no signs of slowing.

A five-year Shunt analysis (2015-19) of softball clubs and associations has shown that the number of posts published is up 102%, while audience engagement has climbed 164% and the performance of posts (an engagement to productivity ratio) has also improved by 30%.

Softball keeps climbing to new productivity heights

Softball clubs and associations have successfully climbed new productivity heights for each of the last five years with total Facebook posts published increasing from 6,800 in 2015 to over 13,900 last year equivalent to a more than doubling of posts published.  

Clubs hit engagement out-of-the-park

Easily one of the most impressive statistics from the sports grassroots is its engagement profile (all Facebook reactions, comments and shares) with the 103 monitored clubs and associations delivering a five-year growth result of 164%.

Stall turns into a performance bonanza

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.

In an unusual result based on Shunt’s recent research into how grassroots sport have adapted to Covid lockdowns was the collective dip in post-performance by softball clubs and associations in 2017 as average engagement slid from 11.07 per post to 9.94.

In a situation like this, it’s often a useful indicator that what might be required is a review of the balance between content quantity and quality. 

What’s really interesting in this scenario is that the sports grassroots ‘sensed’ that something was amiss as productivity growth was wound back in 2018 while the quality of content clearly improved resulting in a sharp uptick in engagement. With a new balance struck, more compelling results were delivered in 2019.

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 as with the rest of the industry softball struck-out with the implementation of nationwide lockdowns in April.

Testament to the resilience of clubs and associations analysed was an impressive snapback that saw productivity surpass March levels by October complemented by an engagement outcome that was also in line with pre-Covid achievements.

Pause in play then rapid run-home

The productivity graph for softball clubs and associations initially indicated there was a more than likely chance of another bumper year until Covid-19 hit our shores. This saw productivity collapse from a 1,360 high to a 660 low.

What followed was a three month hiatus where the sports grassroots kept things ticking over while it re-organised itself to adapt to a new normal. As soon as this was in place post publishing took off again reaching January levels by September to then record the most productive month of the year in October.

Productivity for 2020 is well down on last year at 10,129 posts published as at October. With only two-months remaining this suggests end of year totals still might exceed the 2019 tally. This will be definitely be one core metric for softball worth watching.  

Engagement follows productivity

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 softball clubs productivity and engagement profiles.

In what is virtually a mirror image, engagement tracks productivity through 2020. Interestingly, February is a slightly bigger month than March as audiences digested the news that their sport was being shut down suggesting that softball fans are both receptive and highly responsive to any content clubs might post.

The lesson here is that perhaps the best way for softball to continue to work its way out of the challenges presented by 2020 and return to its recent, aggressive engagement growth profile is simply to post more often? 

Despite the comeback by softball clubs and associations collectively 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 102,740.

Based on current form 2018, levels are likely to be achieved, but last year’s numbers will  remain out of reach which in itself represents a massive achievement considering the turbulent year we’ve all endured.   

Queensland and WA clubs spoil the NSW fan party

As at the end of November 2020 it was a pretty comfortable result for the Brisbane Softball Association as the only organisation across the country to have cracked the +2,000 audience milestone. From here on down it was mostly a NSW clean sweep with a couple of Western Australian clubs and associations spoiling the party while another Queensland club closed out the Shunt Top-10.

Werribee and Glenmore are publishing powerhouses

 

The Werribee Redsox and Glenmore Phantom clubs are in an elite group of (two) softball organisations that posted in excess of 500 times last year. What is even more impressive with the pair is that their Facebook accounts are relatively new with the first posts recorded via Shunt’s data in 2017. Rounding out the top three is the Brisbane Softball Association who have a very productive history, posted 566 times as far back as 2015.

Looking to 2020, as at the end of October it’s all change at the top with the Cheetahs Softball club currently holding down first place with 675 posts, already more than what was achieved by the most prolific club last year. A fair way back in second is the Werribee Redsox (424) followed by the Carine Cats (380).   

Manly Warringah score a social triple

Having finished fifth for audience size and productivity the Manly Warringah Softball Association finally nailed the top position in the Shunt Top-10’s for arguably the most important metric – engagement.

They didn’t get there without a fight though with the Cumberland Nepean Softball Association just a 1,000 or so reactions, comments and shares in arrears at the end of 2019. The Brisbane Softball Association capitalised on its superior audience size to pick-up the last podium placing.

Looking further down the ranking the one to watch is Softball Macarthur who didn’t record any results in Shunt’s analysis until 2018 when it popped-up with 1,537 engagements rising to 7,572 last year.

In what has been a year unlike any other, the Brisbane Softball Association is back on top for engagement as at October on 6,099. A little further back is the Cumberland Nepean Softball Association followed by the Port Adelaide Softball Club who are having a blinder (4,977).

Cumberland Nepean the masters of balance

Shunt’s performance metric is all about striking the right balance between content quality and quantity with the Cumberland Nepean Softball Association a longstanding picture of consistency. With a 23.96 result in 2015 their average engagements per post performance has steadily improved each year, capped-off with a 35.81 return in 2019.

Next best was the Manly Warringah Softball Association who also have been banking high scores for the last five years while the North Shore District Softball Association leapt from a 9.96 result in 2018 to 23.27 last year.

Research notes;

103 Softball 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 info@shunt.com.au

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here