How Cricket Australia and England Cricket contested the Ashes on social media

This is a guest post by Emily Clark, Marketing Manager at Surrey Cricket.

Three Tests in, and the Ashes has already reached a conclusion – Australia regain the urn and England’s next challenge is to avoid a 5-0 whitewash down under.

As the biggest rivalry in cricket, if not sport, the Ashes is one of the most covered events in the world. Some of the most memorable moments in its history were not covered by social media – the famous 2005 victory came a year prior to Twitter being founded, Facebook was in its infancy at a year old, and YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat did not yet exist.

But now, social media is integral in Ashes reporting. From players giving behind-the-scenes insights into the two dressing rooms, the media providing 24/7 updates and Cricket Australia and England Cricket themselves, distributing certain news to shape the Ashes stories to suit their side.

Whilst the two sides have the same objective – to tell the story of the Ashes to their fans, and ensure fans feel engaged with the team throughout the Series – Cricket Australia and England Cricket used their primary social channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) in different ways in order to do so.

Cricket Australia, with perhaps an easier job considering they led from the first Test, post more frequently and used a more colloquial tone in their content – particularly on Twitter. Cleverly engaging with their audience ‘as a fan’ by using terminology and expressions that fans use, Cricket Australia created relatable and shareable content to help increase their reach within the cricketing community.

Perhaps with less to shout about on the pitch, England Cricket remained with a more conservative tone. They did, however, share milestones such as wickets, half-centuries and centuries effectively with well-designed and consistent graphics. This shareable content has been a staple in England’s social content over the past 18 months, and is effective in engaging their social audience whilst telling the story of the match. The next step may be that England incorporate these into real-time video content, and/or, .GIFs.

The most impressive use of social media from either team over the Ashes has been Cricket Australia’s Instagram Stories. In real-time, they shared match-action of highlight moments in vertical video with a simple swipe up for full coverage. As a user experience, the content is convenient to consume, easy to watch and further information is provided if needed. It works perfectly for cricket fans on-the-go, as many are trying to stay up-to-date whilst at work, school, or a different time zone.

The England cricket team lead with imagery, rather than video on their social channels. Whereas Cricket Australia hosted native video on their channels, England Cricket gave little video away natively, and pushed fans to their website. The ECB have built a robust and aesthetic match centre which provides fans with all of the statistics and in-game information they might need, but perhaps providing fans with a bit more content within the social channels is more convenient for the fan. Interestingly, Cricket Australia had a similar approach to Facebook in using it to push people to news articles on their site. Despite the scale of reach on Facebook, Cricket Australia did not treat it as an engagement opportunity.

It was noticeable that England also shared more behind-the-scenes content. The Ashes diary series has become a staple content piece for the side, and the content gives fans exclusive access and insight into life as a player. In addition, England also shared a 360-degree video with Stuart Broad exploring the England dressing room and the walk that the players make from the changing room to the middle.

Stuart Broad 360 tour Adelaide

Stuart Broad gives you a 360 look around the Adelaide Oval!

Posted by England Cricket on Friday, 1 December 2017

England sharing more behind-the-scenes content not only shows that they have a great culture for digital within the team set-up, but also that they have the creativity to generate quality content without relying on on-pitch success.

The most unique content that England Cricket delivered was a 60-second summary video after each day’s play that used moving imagery and text overlays to tell the story. Considering that a lot of fans watching from the UK will have missed the action live, this type of content is important in ensuring that key information is provided conveniently and engagingly to inform the audience.

Whilst Cricket Australia may have won the battle of the Ashes on the pitch, it was an even contest for the sides on social media. The team behind England Cricket’s channels would have had a greater challenge considering the outcome of the Series, but both managed to engage their audience and achieve their objectives with different content outputs.

Two Tests remain in the Series, and now that Australia have regained the Ashes, it will be worth keeping an eye on how both sides navigate the rest of the Tour on social media.

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