BBC Sports

How BBC Sport Grew a Facebook Page’s Referrals by Over 10,000%

A social media lead at BBC Sport tells us how they use social media to reach millions of fans and readers every day. 

What’s it like to manage the social media presence of one of the UK’s biggest sports sites?

We talked to Ian Singleton, Online Assistant Editor at BBC Sport. He’s the day-to-day lead for the social media team at BBC Sport, which has a huge social presence across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more. He told us what’s working, how they decide what to post, and how they boosted their click-throughs.



Can you explain your role at BBC Sport, and what your daily workday looks like?


I am the day-to-day lead for the social media team at BBC Sport. We have 12 social media accounts with total followers of more than 21m. Our core social strategy is as follows:

  • Curate the best content on social media and create shareable content.
  • Enhance our live event coverage, particularly around events of national importance and our broadcast content
  • Increase our reach on social media platforms, to engage with young audiences, and where possible bring them back to the BBC.

In terms of my own workload, the rapid development of social media and digital in general means there is never a dull moment. Thanks to the development of mobile, the public are more connected to the media than ever before but they are a discerning audience with a strong voice and a demand for quality. It is a brilliant time to work in journalism.

I’m usually in the office early to spend some quiet time looking at analytics and our posts from the day before as you have to constantly adapt your tone and style. After that, I will be guiding our social editorial output that day, preparing for upcoming events and broadcasts, liaising with colleagues across the BBC and working on more mid/longer term plans. I sit on the BBC Sport interactive management team so have a role to play there, and I report into BBC Sport’s Digital Development Editor who guides our overall social media strategy and who works closely with the major social media networks.


How important is Facebook and other social networks in reaching audiences for BBC Sport?


Our following on Facebook is 80%-plus under 34, so social media is a key way to reach a younger audience. Because we are a digital publisher and a broadcaster, this has different outcomes for us. However, whichever the platform, a key part of our strategy is bringing people back to the BBC, be it an online piece of content or watching a TV programme.

In an online sense, we find increasing numbers arriving on our mobile content from social, so us guiding that content discovery is important, even when we still attract a high proportion of direct traffic to the BBC website. For TV, short-form shareable video helps promote programmes while we endeavour to steer the social conversation around our biggest shows.


I was interested to read how the Match of the Day Facebook page increased their referrals by 6,000% earlier this year. Can you explain how the team achieved this?


We have had a dedicated social media team at BBC Sport since May 2013 and our initial focus was on growing the reach of our accounts. Last summer, once we had built a sizeable presence on Facebook we conducted some research.

The results backed our editorial intuition by showing the page’s fans, the majority of whom are aged 16-24, wanted the Match of the Day Facebook account to be knowledgeable, cheeky and irreverent, and mirror the tone of the TV presenting team during the lighter moments of our broadcasts. We began to change how we wrote posts but it was a work in progress. We looked deeply at our analytics to refine the style, execution and also guide when to post and how often.

This had a profound effect. In September 2014 we had 35,000 referrals a week from the page. In the equivalent week in September 2015, this figure was 3.7 million. We are very fortunate to have this brand. Match of the Day is one of Britain’s most beloved TV programmes. This is underlined by the fact that, out of the 3.1 million likes on Facebook, almost 1.7 million are in the UK. Out of the Premier League clubs, only Manchester United have more UK fans.

Gary Lineker presents the Match of the Day running order live!

Posted by Match of the Day on Saturday, October 24, 2015


This affection meant that, once we found an authentic tone, the page truly resonated with its fans, particularly as our content could showcase the best of the BBC, be that our coverage of the Premier League, our distinctive global coverage, the best audio clips from Radio 5 Live, or the breadth of our local news sport stories. And that the engagement means we can more effectively promote the programme itself with video clips – including embedded video from select events like the FA Cup – as well as live Facebook Mentions streams with Gary Lineker (we were the first Facebook page outside of the US to use Mentions) and Q&As with pundits.


How do BBC Sport manage their Facebook pages each day? How do the team decide what gets posted, and how are you measuring engagement?


Our team has two key Facebook pages: BBC Sport (8.3m fans) and Match of the Day. The majority of the posts we do are links to BBC online content, and we post multiple times an hour throughout the day. The links could be to sport content, video or audio clips, regional stories, World Service news and news content.

Due to the unique nature of the BBC, we help mainstream audiences to a broad range of sports and events. We will also look to put some native pictures of shareable moments into the page to aid reach as well as short-form video clips. We use the pages to promote broadcast through access to the presenters and pundits through Facebook Mentions and video.

Our Facebook pages are also a really important source of user generated content, the best comments of which are reflected in our distinctive live blog pages, which form a key part of our output – indeed we had 27 authored live blogs on the website during the last weekend in November. In addition we release exclusive clips or action from our rights on the page.

Referrals are a key measure for links, while for native content a combination of reach and engagement is important. Throughout all posts, shares are a vital metric. We’ll also pay particular interest to the people we are engaging and who we are converting to fans of the page. This sits alongside other platforms which are important for us, including Twitter and Instagram, while we have almost 3 million followers on Google+.


How are the BBC Sport team using Spike?


We use Spike, and some other tools, to monitor on trending stories from across the sports world. This can help identify shareable content at an early stage. Another key aspect is how the BBC is performing compared to the wider industry. We use a few tools for this and Spike’s dashboard for shares, likes and comments on Facebook and likes on Instagram helps our wider understanding.




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  • To,

    The Ministry of Telecommunications And

    The Chairman & Managing Director, BSNL

    And his companion deputed Officers,




    Dear Sir,

    1. I am from last four years using the BSNL EVDO CDMA Wireless Services which provides 2.5 Mpbs (Mega bits) speed in Air Transmission and Download up to 250 kBps (kilo bytes) in Rs 800 per month and All mobility in India to go easily with Wireless, but you passed impugned and perverse Notification and order for closing CDMA EVDO All Kind of Services and Sold CDMA Spectrum for minting money for personal gain by Government of India and now forcing every customer to migrating new customers to BSNL GSM technology to only chose with wrongful Restraint and Confinement in one kind of technology. In Contrast to that the GSM Plans are very much higher charged for monthly expenses, restricted too little GB on it and also occasionally you also increasing Service Tax Now 15% for it.

    2. That in your time the rates going higher day by day and the technology is making more costly and in the curtain of Digital India Campaign you forget that every services of every people of India will only be successful if there is less rates and better “A Class” services in all the regions and corners of India otherwise it is a fashion symbol for the elite class of people of high status. The Life expectancy of the number of peoples are reducing day by day and you put so many restrictions on the Bandwidth that a person like me who work 3.0 Hours the time of the day thru computers for earning survival have to sat longer and have to bear your fourth Class services of BSNL and the work not complete till in that time.

    3. That as I applied New Connection No. 1312620003 (Combo Plan 675) in month April Rs 3000/- I get only 1 GB data at the speed of 2.0 Mbps and then after the bandwidth was throttled by you as 512Kbps which then give downloading when I opened websites only 54-55 KBps (kilo bytes) per second and some website not opened as the poor and fourth Class Bandwidth you offered in the Combo Plan of 675 + 15 Service tax which makes my monthly Bill Rs 800/- without any single call may make thru BSNL Landline from my side. How an ordinary person like me or some meager person like me would bear this type of dirty bandwidth and Connection of BSNL in the Country like India. I think that if one day your selfish mind and desires get extreme the you make the India Country Electricity System also Voltage throttled lights in all corners of India where the 220 Volt will be provide at higher rates and 140 Volt will be provide on less rates to consumer Electricity at home.

    4. That I have to worked thru BSNL Broadband at home on 512KBps and then test how much problems you get in opening websites of different kind made in heavy Software and Heavy Content material load on Websites when browsed to see. You are getting Government Salary with huge Perks and Facilities and BSNL Special Plans for you designated position absolute free and on less meager rates and rest other people of India you doing partiality and ill hatred to the people of India to giving Bandwidth Throttled speed in heavy amount extract/elicit out from the Consumer of BSNL daily in indirect may for undue enrichment. You make all the Country Materialistic and the money is on your dreams and in your veins and that why you occasionally make harder and tough life for the people of India not get survived easily on the land of India. A person has to Sleep 8.0 hours then 2-4 hours for food eating and daily dress up and then work 8-9 hours outside and then an ordinary get how much time to access the Internet at home. What is the use of the bandwidth which goes waste daily when the people of India not utilized it for their personal use daily basis.

    5. That in Western Uttar Pardesh I found that your Government of India and current State Government makes life much harder for the people of India to survive like a desert miss the rain:-

    a. No Allahabad High Court Bench Hence no Revision, appeal and right of sue will be enforced by the meager and aggrieved people of UP West. But in East UP Lucknow bench was made for their convenience. Violation of Art 39A still exist.

    b). Electricity Light and daily unnecessary Home Power cut off extreme in Western U.P make like a living hell on earth;

    c). No Indian Railway Track Double line in Western U.P in between Meerut to Saharanpur till 70 years of Independence which make again life for commuters and travelers a living asylum on earth;

    d). That no New Modern AC facilitated Criminal and Civil and Special Courts established in District Courts of Western Uttar Pardesh and the Judicial Officers are very much less than the demand of the dispute and matter raised in between the population of Uttar Pardesh West. The British time era Court building and infrastructure still exist which makes harder for advocates and litigants to stand in that tight space for their number turn to come;

    e). And One another big problem your fourth Class Dirty Services and BSNL Plans offered in BSNL exist in India;

    f). Rest no MNC companies and no other income source in Western UP who unfortunately live or born in this region besides daily hand to mouth wages work.

    ++ PRAYER ++

    That may considering all the above facts and problems for the deep down from your bottom of your heart and soul kindly do something to make life better in INDIA. That As this thing BSNL Broadband you are currently offering will be provide minimum 2.0 Mbps Speed or 2.5 Mbps Speed in all the Combo and Ordinary Plans in All over the India irrespective of the caste, community, region, and religion in India. That other problems which I mentioned in Para 5 will also be directed and issue percept to take necessary swift action on it for removing major problems in India. Any other thing which might you think may also deliver with these problems to rectify permanently in India and in Western Uttar Pardesh.

    Aggrieved Consumer and Complainant:-

    Mr KK Agarwal Advocate

    Mb: 9457837917, 09319365499

    Land Line:- 0131-2620003.

    Dated:- 04-June-2016

    Address:- Mr KK Agarwal S/o Trilok Chand

    210 South Civil Lines, Bulletin Colony,

    City:-Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pardesh