What can we learn from the top performing posts in the #SportOnSocial League Table 2023?

While reviewing this year’s 100 top-performing social posts from a creative standpoint, it’s impossible to ignore the impact of TikTok. Unsurprising really, considering that in 2022 it became the most downloaded app in the world. By the end of 2023, it’s predicted to overtake YouTube as the most watched platform.

TikTok’s meteoric rise is affecting the way we create and consume content across the social landscape; its aesthetic has spread like an alien weed, encouraging other platforms to increasingly ‘TikTokify’. Despite all this, it’s reassuring to see that the golden rules of creativity remain inviolable – even if they’re all now viewed in portrait!


vertical video rules

TikTok’s influence has seen vertical video dominant on all channels. With the ascent of Reels and Shorts, the format battle appears to have been won for the moment with 9×16 seeing off its square/landscape rivals. It might seem predictable that vertical should be so popular: not only does it mirror the shape of our screens but also that of the human body. It enables us to capture the athleticism of the human body in a single frame, making it a great format for sport.

sound on

Audio has been largely ignored on social for some time. Everyone was scrolling on their phones without headphones and could rely solely on visuals to engage. Thanks to the birth of the ‘trending sound’, we have entered a new era. Most fans now leave ‘sound on’ – according to TikTok, 88% of users say that sound is essential to their experience which, of course, is great news for creatives! They currently have more tools at their disposal and are able to engage audiences by combining sports clips with viral songs and dialogue.

strip it back

Fans have always craved exciting and unique sporting moments. But what TikTok has shown is that they don’t need unnecessary layers of added creative production. Too many filters, graphics and animations risk obscuring the fan experience on social. Success comes from keeping it simple so the focus can be on the moments that matter. The best clips to use should feature incredible action or something odd or unique that surprises and captures attention.

curate as well as create

The power of curation can be incredibly liberating from a resource point of view because it means you don’t have to produce all your own output. Sourcing brilliant athlete and fan content that tallies with your brand strategy and tone can be a great way to lighten your production team’s load while still delivering excellent value to your audience.

Never too old to have some fun 😆 Follow uci_cycling on TikTok for more 📺 🎥 Liam Neeson

Posted by UCI on Wednesday, 6 April 2022

words matter

So much of success on social is about the visuals – but a witty, concise caption can take a post to new heights. Fortunately, you don’t have to be Oscar Wilde to deliver the LOLs. There are some handy copywriting hacks out there. Relatable memes provide a really useful way to create highly shareable content that connects your sport with new fans.

experience the emotion

One of the main reasons we love sport is the way it makes us feel. At its best, social media can bring us closer to that visceral experience. It is also scientifically proven that emotional content is more shareable –so look out for those clips where athletes uncork their emotions like Champagne!

representing women

We are experiencing a revolution in women’s sport and the results are clear to see in this year’s #SportOnSocial. Women athletes are incredibly well represented in the 100 best- performing posts by International Federations. This is a giant leap forward considering that it was only in 2019 that a Purdue University report revealed ​that women received a mere 5.4% of overall sports coverage. Of course, there is a moral imperative for organisations to deliver equality in sport, but it’s incredibly encouraging to see fans demanding it too.

#SportOnSocial League Table 2023