Instagram powering past Twitter on strong national growth


Instagram continues to gather steam across Australian sport as follower counts move past Twitter in New South Wales and Queensland with the difference in Western Australia now down to less than 300 thanks to a quarterly growth rate in excess of 6%.


  • 343 Accounts
  • Total Instagram follower count 8,828,354
  • Two Instagram accounts are in excess of 500,000 followers – the Australian Open (665,000) and Cricket Australia ( (549,000)
  • Of the top 10 national teams five are from the AFL and four from NRL clubs, the other entry is the Socceroos
  • The average national quarterly growth rate for Instagram is 6.31% – the highest of the ‘big three’ channels
  • In New South Wales and Queensland there are now more followers on Instagram than Twitter. In Western Australia the difference is less than 300.

AFL has the edge over the NRL

The Australian Open was the sole entry in the million plus club on Twitter and on Instagram it also came out on top but with a smaller 665,000 following. If you were to add the, BBL and Cricket Australia Instagram fans together it would easily surpass the Open and bring the sport close to the magic million mark at 880,000.

It’s a three-horse race for ownership of the top ten overall with the NRL taking the honours (four entries) edging out the AFL (three) and cricket (two). All of the respective AFL and NRL teams listed have follower counts in excess of 125,000 with the Bronco’s pulling-in closer to 160,000 while the Queensland Maroons State of Origin team closes-in.

Adding satellite accounts would propel Surfing into the top five

The top ten NSO’s listed have a combined Instagram following equivalent to 25% of the national total with three cricket accounts in this list alongside a to be expected AFL and NRL representation.

Of note is who else made the grade. The Socceroos Instagram following (118,000) is less than half the support it gets on Twitter (290,000) but it’s still more than enough for a top five result. Motorsport makes an appearance at number six with the V8 Supercar championship (108,000) followed by the AOC (80,000), A-League (73,500) and netball Diamonds (67,100).

For the purpose of consistency Shunt’s 50Mil project doesn’t merge accounts from an individual sport (apart from its separate all-of-sport rank) which works against 11th ranked NSO – Surfing. If its three satellite entities,, Surfgroms and its High-performance centre were added it would take the total footprint well past 150,000 knocking the Socceroos out of fifth place.

  • Quarterly growth rate; 6.55%
  • Last surveyed; May 2017

Rabbitohs sole entry in 100K club for New South Wales

New South Wales is NRL country reflected in the strong showing by the code in the top ten on Instagram. Representation from five national teams and an excellent result for the state sporting association boosted by close affiliation to the ‘Blues’ State of Origin squad leave no doubt as to who has the publics hearts and minds on Instagram. In-roads made by the Sydney Swans AFL team are evident again with its 90,000 followers taking it to fourth spot with the two Big Bash League sides also making an appearance as the Waratahs round out a total list of 57 and follower count for the state of 1.59 million.

SSA’s (Top 200)

NSWRL (25), Cricket NSW (69), Surfing NSW (87), Netball NSW (126), Gymnastics NSW (136), Athletics NSW (137), NSW Touch Football (138), Surf Life Saving NSW (143), NSW Institute of Sport (147), Football NSW (156), Rowing NSW (165), Hockey NSW (174), NSW Rugby Union (186), Basketball NSW (189), AFL (NSW/ACT) (194)

  • Quarterly growth rate; 6.67%
  • Last surveyed; April 2017

Tight at the top for five AFL clubs

In Victoria, the Australian Open is in a league of its own while another league – the Australian Rules variety locks-out the next five slots. There isn’t much between them either, the best of the bunch being Collingwood with 147,000 fans while at sixth is Richmond (121,000) while a meagre 1,000 fans split Essendon and Carlton. The AFL presence doesn’t end there with a resurgent Bulldogs at number eight and North Melbourne tenth.

SSA’s (Top 200)

Cycling Victoria (96), Netball Victoria (121), Surfing Victoria (122), Athletics Victoria (123), Football Federation Victoria (FFV) (135), Basketball Victoria (144), Hockey Victoria (145), Victorian Institute of Sport (157), Calisthenics Victoria (166), Golf Victoria (176), Cricket Victoria (177), Skateboarding Victoria (179), Little Athletics Victoria (190), Bicycle Network (191)

  • Quarterly growth rate; 5.47%
  • Last surveyed; June 2017

NRL have a major stake in Queensland

There’s over 880,000 following Queensland sport on Instagram as the Brisbane Broncos, State of Origin Maroons, North Queensland Cowboys and God Coast Titans account for more than 50% of this total.

For the remainder, the spoils are evenly spread with five sporting codes represented. The Brisbane Heat (BBL) are a few thousand fans ahead of the Queensland Reds (Rugby) with little between AFL teams the Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions. The next pair are also closely matched with A-League side Brisbane Roar holding down ninth with 30,000 followers then Super Netball side the Firebirds are just 2,000 in arrears.

SSA’s (Top 200)

Queensland Cricket (91), Surfing Queensland (104), Life Saving Queensland (127), Queensland Touch Football (141), Athletics Queensland (148), Triathlon Queensland (169), Basketball Queensland (184)

  • Quarterly growth rate; 6.72%
  • Last surveyed; May 2017

Western Australia has a long-tail

AFL dominates the sporting landscape in Western Australia and this is reflected in who takes the top two spots. The more established West Coast Eagles has recently cracked 100,000 fans on Instagram with the Fremantle Dockers in hot pursuit on 85,000.

A stellar performance from state sporting association (SSA) Surfing WA ensures it is secure in third spot with 42,000 fans ahead of NBL side the Wildcats and another SSA, this time the Western Australian Cricket Association or WACA in fifth.

There is literally nothing between A-League side Perth Glory and Super Rugby team the Western Force who both have 17,900 followers (a more recent check than our May count puts the Force a couple of hundred up on the Glory). Closing in on these two is Super Netball side the West Coast Fever followed by Skateboarding WA and the Perth Motorplex who host the state’s major Speedway and Drag-Racing events.

SSA’s (Top 200)

Surfing Western Australia (63), Western Australian Cricket Association (WACA) (66), Skateboarding WA (150), Netball WA (168), Hockey WA (169), Western Australian Institute of Sport (173), Athletics WA (178), Gymnastics WA (198), Surf Life Saving WA (200)

  • Quarterly growth rate; 6.40%
  • Last surveyed; April 2017

Events and on oval feature in South Australia

South Australia is another stronghold for Australian rules football reflected in the two largest Instagram followings in the state belonging to the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide. A solid third is BBL side the Adelaide Strikers followed by A-League team Adelaide United.

Holding down fifth isn’t a national team or state sporting organisation, rather it’s the Adelaide Oval who have accumulated 17,000 Instagram fans. In sixth, is Super Netball side the Thunderbirds then one of two events in the top ten, the Tour Downunder that regularly attracts world-class cyclists in what is fast becoming a road-racing classic.

Another major sporting event drawcard for the state is the Adelaide 500 V8 Supercar round with just over 9,000 fans landing it one place behind NBL side the 36ers.

Rounding out our list is the sole state sporting association entry and another AFL representative – the SANFL. In total, 50Mil is tracking 33 Instagram accounts in South Australia with a combined total of 355,000.

SSA’s (Top 200)

SANFL (146), Athletics SA (149), Surfing South Australia (181)

  • Quarterly growth rate; 6.02%
  • Last surveyed; June 2017

Cricket is king in Tasmania

The Hobart Hurricanes BBL side (46,000) and Cricket Tasmania (19,000) control more than 80% of Instagram’s total sporting footprint of 80,000 in Tasmania. A distant third is Basketball Tasmania followed by Hockey and motorsport event Targa Tasmania. 100 fans split Athletics and the AFL with the Tasmanian Institute of Sport, Surfing and Surf Life Saving completing the top ten.

SSA’s (Top 200)

Cricket Tasmania (95), Basketball Tasmania (152)

National team’s own the nation’s capital

Size isn’t everything and the ACT is a case in point. What it lacks in size and population it more than makes up for as home to some of the biggest teams and Instagram followings in the country.

Case in point is Super Rugby side the Brumbies with over 50,000 followers. Close behind is NRL team the Canberra Raiders (46,000). Third are women’s A-League side Canberra United with another women’s team the Capitals (WNBL) in sixth. Fourth goes to yet another team playing on the national stage, the Cavalry (Australian Baseball League).

State sporting associations hold-down fifth (Hockey), seventh (Touch Football), eighth (Athletics) and ninth (Cricket) with Canberra Skateboarding the tenth of 14 accounts tracked with a total footprint of 110,000.

  • Quarterly growth rate; 5.67%
  • Last surveyed; April 2017

Northern Territory yet to jump on the Instagram express

Shunt’s 50Mil project is currently tracking just one Instagram account in the Northern Territory – AFL representative side the NT Thunder. No state sporting associations to our knowledge are using Instagram at this point in time.

  • Quarterly growth rate; 5.87%
  • Last surveyed; June 2017


  • Survey period March – June 2017
  • States and territories include representative franchised teams from the following national championships; A-League, AFL, BBL, NRL, Super Netball, Super Rugby, V8 Supercars
  • NSO national championships; A-League, ABL, BBL, NBL, Super Netball, V8 Supercars, W-BBL, W-NBL and Women’s A-League
  • NSO national Teams; AOC, Australian Cricket Team, Australian Kangaroos, Diamonds, Hockeyroos, Kookaburras, Matildas, Socceroos and Southern Stars
  • Sporting venues are listed where they are located
  • Motorsport teams and championships are listed separately (with the exception of V8 Supercars)


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