GAA & social media – Which county comes out on top?

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

In an exclusive to, Quinton O’Reilly crunches down the data on social media action for every GAA county to find who wins the All-Ireland title in social media.

As the dust settles on what was one of the most exciting GAA seasons in recent memory, 2013 will also be remembered as the year where more fans moved the discussion from . With more fans working abroad, social media has allowed them to show their support wherever they are.

GAA fans are a vocal bunch so it provides them with the perfect platform to highlight their views, speculate on who will start and offer their analysis. Also, it gives counties the opportunity to reach out to their fans, something that a lot of sports teams and clubs have been doing recently as so many of them are online.

This number is growing year after year. For the All-Ireland football final between Dublin and Mayo, there were more than 70,000 mentions of it on Twitter, showing how it’s gradually becoming a major part of how we watch gaelic games. While it’s not a large figure by any means, it does show that GAA fans are embracing the medium.

With each county stepping up its online presence, we wanted to see which counties had the most passionate fans and how well they interact with them.

Method Dealing with each province, we will be looking at each county’s presence on the two most popular sites, Facebook and Twitter. Both Total number of fans and engagement with the page will be analysed. In the case that a county doesn’t have an official page, we looked at the unofficial fan pages instead and when a county included a page for both hurling and football, we included both.

Alongside the People Talking About This (Ptat) metric on Facebook, we will look at the most popular Facebook posts and tweets from each account during the 2013 season. As we wanted to focus on fans interacting without being prompted, competition posts were ignored as they usually ask users to retweet, like, comment or share posts for entry. All stats and figures listed were gathered on October 13th and were correct at time of writing. The entire compilation of data for all the counties can be found here.

Fans and Followers

The top counties on both Facebook and Twitter are as follows.Leinster

Unsurprisingly, it’s Dublin’s official Facebook page that comes out on top, it eclipses the competition with 63,229 fans on its page. Despite being the smallest county in Ireland, it’s Louth’s official page that comes closest with 7,421 fans while Wexford boasts 4,174 fans. In terms of engagement, it’s Wexford that engages its fans the best having a respectable engagement rate of 454Ptat while Laois and Louth have 397 and 364 respectively.

The surprising part is that, despite a lot of searching, Westmeath doesn’t seem to have an official Facebook page, opting for just a Twitter account instead. On Twitter, it’s Dublin that boasts the most followers as it has just over 11,000 fans. Louth takes second spot with 10,673 while the follower count ranges between 2,000 to 9,000 depending on which county you’re focusing on.Munster

There’s some strong representation from the Munster counties on Facebook as they have the highest collection of fans on average, but some low interaction levels overall. Limerick has the largest amount with 11,192 fans, Cork has 8,563 while Kerry ends up with 7,127.

When it comes to engagement, it’s Cork that has the highest rate with 369 Ptat while Limerick has 303. Twitter sees the rebel county coming out on top with 24,448 followers, the highest of any county in Ireland. Tipperary and Kerry follows up with 12,696 and 11,930 respectively. Like Westmeath, Clare doesn’t have an official Facebook page, instead opting for just a Twitter profile.Connacht

While they suffered heartbreak during the All-Ireland Final, Mayo can take comfort in the fact that they have one of the best Facebook and Twitter pages in the country, boasting an impressive engagement rate across both platforms.

For Facebook, it has 1,801Ptat which puts it head and shoulders above any other county. It topped this during All-Ireland final week, when this figure reached 17,746, showing just how excited Mayo fans were during the buildup to the game, and how happy they were when the minor team became All-Ireland champions.

Galway is an interesting case as it has separate accounts for both football and hurling. In this case, it’s hurling that wins out as it has 10,720 Facebook fans and 4,394 Twitter followers, in comparison to the football 5,400 and 2,546 respectively. Ulster

Ulster has, on average, the most Twitter followers of all the provinces with four counties breaking the 10,000 mark and two just shy of it. Across Facebook, it’s Down that takes top spot with 16,421 fans while Tyrone comes next with 10,158 fans. However, Tyrone can take pride in the fact that has a more engaged fan base with 903Ptat.

Armagh can take solace in the fact that while it’s narrowly misses the 10,000 fans mark, it engages its fans well with 754Ptat. As mentioned earlier Down, Derry, Tyrone and Donegal break the 10,000 followers mark. In this case, it’s Tyrone who take first place with 15,854 followers. Popular Content

So we can see who has the most fans and followers, but that’s only the beginning. How you engage with fans is the real challenge and so, the type of posts you publish is important. If you’re on Twitter, 24 of the top tweets mentioned were text-only, while the rest either included a link (5 tweets) or a photo (4 tweets). The top posts on Facebook weren’t as lopsided as 17 posts only used text and 15 included a photo, the latter getting more engagement across the board. Only one of the top posts included a video, suggesting that not only are photos the best way to get the most likes, comments and shares, fans are more concerned about the message. Speaking of which, the type of content you post is more important than anything else so what are the best ways to engage with fans? Well, the most popular method is to have your team win an All-Ireland or provincial title as the likes of Mayo, Roscommon, Dublin and Tipperary discovered this year. Fans love success and will show enthusiasm towards any major victory, regardless of what competition or grade it is. Of course, not every county can plan for that so thankfully there are other ways to get people involved. Nostalgia is also another powerful tool, perfectly highlighted by Tyrone posting a photo of Peter Canavan lifting the Sam Maguire back in 2003 and Limerick showing the All-Ireland winning team from 1973. Both cast people back to good times, and allows fans to reminisce about those moments. Paying tribute to someone is another type of post that resonates with fans. For the likes of Kilkenny, the retirement of Noel Hickey saw a wave of fans paying tribute and sharing their memories of his playing career. The same applies to backroom staff, which shows how much they appreciate for the people who work behind the scenes, as well as paying condolences to those who have passed away, highlighting their compassion. That said, any tributes to the current team is especially effective as well as fans will always show their appreciation. A great example of this is Donegal who had a less than impressive campaign by their standards, but that didn’t stop more than 1,500 fans liking the post itself. For Twitter, quick summaries and updates usually do well. Most counties use it to provide minute-by-minute updates of matches, both county and club matches (on a side-note, the response to cross-posting content from Twitter to Facebook is very poor so avoid if possible). Also, it’s also very effective in breaking major news updates and match results, content that is guaranteed to be retweeted and shared in their droves. Probably the best example came from Dublin on both its Facebook and Twitter pages. It only needed one heartfelt photo after its final.

9 Responses to “GAA & social media – Which county comes out on top?”

  1. @TipperaryGAA has the 5th most Twitter followers of GAA accounts but this not reflected in your top 10 list or article in general.

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