If you work in sports marketing and event coverage, you know that social media is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal to build awareness, engagement and following.

With the rise of new platforms and a constant stream of new features, however, it’s vital to keep up to date with the latest trends and understand the best fit for your accounts. What works on YouTube, for example, might not work on TikTok; sharing live results isn’t so well suited to Instagram as it is to X (formerly Twitter).

This is why we’ve identified the 6 social media platforms most suited to different types of event content.

In my experience, what follows has certainly proved successful with most clients, but remember to make sure you really, really know your audiences. Listen to what they’ve got to say, understand what they’re talking about, and find out what content they want to see.

Short-form video – TikTok

Short-form video. The go-to content choice for social media strategists and when it comes to deciding on the platform to use, TikTok reigns supreme.

With over 1bn active monthly users, TikTok boasts the highest average time spent viewing content (55 minutes).

The platform’s short-form video format makes it the perfect destination for sports fans seeking easily digestible and entertaining content that captures behind-the-scenes moments, athlete celebrations, sports history, and fan reactions. In the US, 57% of users watch sports content on the platform on a weekly basis.

TikTok’s algorithm not only sends viewers content related to that which they have already engaged with, but it will continue to do so long after an event has ended, ensuring long-term loyalty to your sport or brand. This gives content relative timelessness. A funny video filmed with athletes can be re-used months later and still achieve significant engagement than when it was released at the time of the event.

Live updates – X (formerly Twitter)

X has undergone an array of platform changes (most spectacularly its change of name)! While this has alienated some users, X remains integral for fan engagement and live event coverage (giving fans the opportunity to share their thoughts/opinions in real-time).

One of X’s biggest appeals has always been its short-form, real-time nature. Users can toggle between their ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ pages where tweets are prioritised by most recent and updated content. A 2022 study by X found that 55% of users get their news from the platform, more than any other social media, which can make it the go-to destination for fans looking for live updates.

Demographic-specific content – Facebook

With over 3bn active users per month, Facebook is the #1 social media platform worldwide. It may not have the highest average time spent online, but creating demographic-specific content will make it stand out.

44% of Facebook users are aged 35+ (compared to 29% for both TikTok/Instagram) which is worth bearing in mind when sharing content. What resonates most with older users may not cut through on TikTok or Instagram.

It’s also beneficial to prioritise content that will gain traction in countries where Facebook is most popular: it’s the most used social media platform in Indonesia, Chile, the Philippines, Vietnam, Colombia, and South Africa (all have above the worldwide average for time spent on social media online).

Posting photos/videos focusing on an athlete from these countries involves a tactical tweak to your social media strategy, creating higher engagement than if you were to post about athletes from countries where Facebook is less popular.

Photo content – Instagram

The original photo-sharing destination for social media users, Instagram is the 4th most popular social media site in the world in terms of monthly active users (2.35bn). It’s visual storytelling is great for showcasing sport photography in a way that competitors like TikTok and YouTube simply aren’t built to do.

While the amount of video content is growing on the platform and Meta is working hard to make Instagram Reels compete with TikTok, 64.9% of Instagram content is photo posts. Not necessarily just event pictures, but also trending memes/graphics which help improve relatability and engagement with a userbase where over 60% are aged 18–34.

Long-form video – YouTube

TikTok might be the new platform on the block as regards breaking records, but YouTube is still the largest video-sharing platform (over 2.5bn monthly users).

Sports fans can watch the action, usually held behind a paywall, in a digestible manner suited to the shrinking attention span of social media users. So, although TikTok can provide 10-second clips of best moments, YouTube is the destination for fans who want a better understanding of a sport/product which they get from a 3-minute highlight video. Interestingly, in 2022, 92% of viewers used the platform for educational purposes, according to YouTube’s statistics.

One of YouTube’s biggest benefits to your sports event when compared with other platforms is its compatibility with smart TVs. YouTube’s viewership on smart TV screens increased during the pandemic and has since gone from strength-to-strength as it captures an even greater connected TV audience. In 2022, 45% of all YouTube viewership took place on TV, up from 30% in 2020. This separates YouTube from its competitors and gives your content another destination that isn’t just on phone or computer.

Fan discussion – Reddit

Federations and brands often overlook Reddit when they’re building a social media strategy, but it has been a gold mine for community engagement since its inception in 2005.

Known for its discussion-focused format, Reddit hosts an extensive variety of sports-related subreddits (individual communities). Users can engage in in-depth conversations about various aspects of sport, from game analysis/player performance to historical moments/breaking news.

The platform’s up/downvoting system means that communities can collectively curate the content they want to see. Additionally, if fans are a community member, they can create/share their own content which adds a fun and creative element to the sports discussion – not to mention taking the load of social media managers!

Reddit could indeed be the missing piece of your tactical jigsaw. For more information on what it has to offer, why not take a look here?

Chinese market 

If you want to increase reach beyond the social media platforms discussed, using the equivalent platforms available in China and having an understanding of these is imperative.

Our China social expert partner H&A Media have provided detail on the platforms you should target.

Douyin is the fastest growing player in the short-form video industry and the only Chinese tech company to achieve international success with Tiktok. With 719m daily users, Douyin is an e-commerce giant, acting as a hub for live streamers.

Weibo was launched in 2009 when X (Twitter) was blocked in the country and is China’s longest running social media platform. Starting costs are low, making it a good place for brands just entering the Chinese market.

There is no real equivalent app/platform in China to YouTube although there have been many attempts to recreate it. Today the closest is Bilibili which originally launched for Manga comic anime and now thrives on user generated video content.

Don’t forget about WeChat, a solution with instant messaging, short-form video and varied e-commerce operations which makes it convenient for locals and visitors alike.

Before launching on any new platform, it’s important to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a China strategy in place?
  • What is your message to the market?
  • Who is your target audience?

It is also advised to have the operation in China for account verification and registration as well as a relationship to the platforms listed above directly. This ensures your organisation is fully aware and compliant with regulatory changes on content posting.

Want to read more on event marketing best practice in the sports industry? Check out our article on why creative campaigns are key to event marketing hitting harder by clicking here.

Redtorch has won multiple awards for its creative campaigns designed for rights holders during global sports events. If you’re interested in exploring the benefits of such a campaign, please contact jonny.murch@redtorch.sport.