Is Twitter toast?


The recent trials and tribulations of Twitter since the takeover by Elon Musk have grabbed headlines around the world but challenges for the platform from an Australian sports perspective started some time ago.

When Shunt first started monitoring the social media activity of the sports sector five years ago, Twitter was a clear number two to Facebook based on several core metrics that included audience, post publishing and fan engagement.

It wasn’t long though before it began to be overtaken by Instagram, eventually getting bumped to number three in every national, state and territory market. More recently it’s been sliding to fourth against TikTok, starting with teams and leagues.

What’s going on?

Narrow niche

Twitter’s greatest strength is its popularity with mainstream media and the ecosystem built around this where it has become the home of fast-moving, high-volume content for major sporting events as well as national leagues and teams. Case in point has been the recent Olympic and Commonwealth Games where it enjoyed something of a resurgence.

As a result, in the last 12 months it has held its own against other platforms at the sectors top-end with an 8% boost in fans (up 676,000) to nearly 9 million for teams and leagues (sample of 160) and an impressive 13% for national sports (up 530,000) based on a sample of 70.

National sports propped-up by Cricket

Peeking under the hood though, the numbers for national sports aren’t as rosy as they might appear with 78% of this growth (417,000) being delivered by just one sport – Cricket ( and Cricket Australia).

Distinct Twitter “participation bands” have evolved over time

a) The percentage of team and league accounts (160) that are publishing Tweets on any given month has remained steady at around 85%.
b) National sports accounts that are publishing Tweets on any given month has held the line at a little over 60%.
c) State and territory accounts that are publishing Tweets on any given month has steadily fallen from 46% a year ago to just 38% in November 2022 (having been as low as 36% the previous month).

Covid Disruptions

Twitter’s strength is also its weakness, particularly when you look at how grassroots sport was impacted by Covid disruptions. As we’ve noted previously in the absence of an events calendar, clubs have nothing to talk about, if they have nothing to talk about then audiences have nothing to engage with and start to drift.

Where has this been most keenly felt?

The next wrung-up in the sports hierarchy – state and territory organisations.

The exodus accelerates

Already low compared to teams, leagues and national sports Twitter use by state sports has dropped another 8% in the last year equivalent to 19 less organisations publishing tweets on the platform.

The average number of state and territory sports publishing Tweets on Twitter in any given month has dropped by 19 in just 12 months to less than a 100.

Where are Twitter resources being diverted?
If the biggest loser is Twitter, then the biggest winner is TikTok.
When we asked our Accelerator program sports that had mothballed their Twitter accounts this year where they were diverting Twitter resources the most common answer was TikTok with some also ramping-up their efforts on Instagram Reels.
Capacity within sports is always going to be scarce so in a social media context you’ve got to go where the audiences and engagement are.
On this criteria alone TikTok is now a no-brainer.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here