Winter sports lead on LinkedIn while 50% of accounts never post


Traditional winter team-based sports dominate on LinkedIn while 50% of 250 monitored accounts haven’t posted in the last 12 months a new study by Shunt’s 50Mil project reports.

LinkedIn Snapshot

  • Over 310,000 followers and 250 accounts monitored as at May 2017
  • The AFL and its national teams have a combined footprint of 78,000
  • 7 of the top 10 nationally franchised teams are from the AFL
  • National sporting organisations have a combined following of 142,000
  • Royal Life Saving WA posted more than 400 times in the last 12 months
  • Despite not posting at all in the last 12 months the Australian Sports Commission has a following of 5,800
  • 50% of all accounts monitored by 50Mil have not posted in the last 12 months

AFL leads the way in business networking

The AFL comes out on top of the 20 largest LinkedIn follower counts in Australian sport with 24,000. By adding teams from around the country to this total its clear that the AFL has embraced the business-networking platform more so than any other.

At number two with over 19,000 is cricket. Aside from the national body each of the sports state and territory representatives have an account with the exception of the Northern Territory, making it the most extensive geographic LinkedIn footprint monitored by 50Mil of all sports.

Tennis at number three proves you don’t need a lot of accounts to have a strong LinkedIn presence with 16,700 followers. It achieves this impressive figure with just one account (Tennis Australia).


There is a clear connection between elite, high-performance sport and the business networking strengths of LinkedIn. At number seven (5,800 followers) is the Australian Sports Commission with two state based, elite athlete facilities also making the 50Mil top 20. At number nine is the Victorian Institute of Sport (5,000) and the NSW Institute of Sport is 16th (4,100).

We’ve a few theories as to why this might be the case. It could be that these organisations simply have stronger outreach programs on LinkedIn than other sports? Another line of thought is that current and former elite athletes are naturally more embedded in the Australian corporate landscape with the associated networks. Or, the high-performance centres LinkedIn accounts may act as a focal point for former alumni?

AFL and its teams are adding followers – fast

The AFL is the LinkedIn’s powerhouse sport for growth as demonstrated by the 1,800 additional followers the governing body has acquired on LinkedIn over the last quarter equivalent to an 8% gain. Amongst other fast-movers are the only two teams in the top ten – Richmond and Carlton.

Brisbane Roar leads the way for Queensland

While the AFL might be seeing a lift in follower numbers, in terms of percentage growth it’s the A-League teams that standout. At number one by a considerable margin is the Brisbane Roar whose 90 additional LinkedIn fans represented a jump of 45.5%. Sixth are the Western Sydney Wanderers with 11% growth (130) and at eighth are the Central Coast Mariners (9.5%).

It’s good to see a number of state sporting associations on the up with Queensland leading the charge. QRL (Queensland Rugby League) added 16.5% to its total of 480 in the last three months. Also in the top ten are Rugby Union Queensland (third) and Life Saving Queensland (12%). Aside from the Roar the Brisbane Bronco’s figure highly taking the number of entries from the state to half of the top ten.

Winter sports lead the way for LinkedIn adoption

Traditional winter codes dominate Australian sports LinkedIn follower counts and platform adoption rates via their representative teams and state bodies.

The AFL has the largest combined footprint driven largely by the adoption of LinkedIn by 16 of its 18 national teams with Geelong and the Gold Coast Suns the only omissions from accounts tracked by 50Mil.

It’s a similar picture in the NRL with 13 of the 16 teams having a LinkedIn presence. Interestingly with cricket it’s the state representative bodies that are out in force with seven state and territories represented and just four Big Bash League sides – the Melbourne Stars, Melbourne Renegades, Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat.

At number four is Football with all nine of the Australian based A-League sides having a LinkedIn presence. It’s a similar situation at Super Rugby with all five Australian teams represented.

Melbourne based AFL teams almost a lock-out

AFL teams dominate the top ten biggest follower counts for national teams on LinkedIn – almost. With six at the top it clearly demonstrates how important a networking tool the platform is for clubs that have a longstanding history of using business coteries to drive their corporate networking efforts.

Essendon, Richmond, Carlton, Hawthorn, Collingwood and Melbourne all make the cut but they’re outdone by an interloper from the north – the Sydney Swans who have the largest following at 5,800.

As Australia’s representative organisation at the highest level of international competition the AOC is the fifth largest with NRL squads Melbourne Storm and South Sydney Rabbitohs also making an appearance.

National bodies have a half of all followers

National Sporting Organisations (NSO’s) have close to a half of all LinkedIn followers at 142,000. Due to high adoption rates by Melbourne based AFL clubs, Victoria is the largest of the states at 72,000 with New South Wales a reasonable distance behind at 47,000. A 1,000 followers split Queensland and Western Australia.

Some post a lot

LinkedIn archives posts for upto 12 months and provide a convenient total of how many are in a given news feed. This provides an instant reference point for how often or not sports are posting to their accounts. At one end of the scale, Royal Life Saving WA had posted just over 400 times in the previous 12 months (as at May 1, 2017).

The debate about how frequently you should post on social media is one that will never go away and we don’t intend to make any contribution to the argument at this juncture. An observation we will make is that posting often on LinkedIn doesn’t necessarily translate to an uptick in followers with Royal Life Saving WA having a modest 200 connections.

Looking down our list of ‘heavy-posters’ Basketball Queensland has a ratio of 327 posts: 528 followers, Gymnastics Australia 255: 1,280 followers and VicSport 151: 2,124. A pattern does seem to be emerging that the less you post the more followers you have but then along comes Netball WA to bust that theory with 148 posts and 372 followers.

Some don’t post at all and its doesn’t seem to make any difference

Most would agree that you need to post and post reasonably often to build a strong following on any social platform. One of the anomalies of LinkedIn is that ignoring this strategy can actually be very effective for some sports organisations and teams as the following table demonstrates. These are the top-10 LinkedIn accounts that have no posts in their news feeds for the previous 12 months and their respective follower counts.

Not bad! This reflects a broader trend on LinkedIn by the Australian sports industry to use their LinkedIn accounts purely as ‘placeholders’. 50Mil research has in fact shown that 50% of all the accounts it monitors have had no posting activity over the previous 12 months.

LinkedIn is the social media equivalent of an address book for sport

Even where sports are active on their accounts the frequency is still low with 20% having posted between one and nine times. Add to this another 10% that posted 10 to 19 times in the previous twelve months and it suggests that LinkedIn is a low content volume platform for most with just seven of 250 accounts posting more than 100 times per annum.


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