BF continues a series of articles based on the full 2019-20 Annual Report with a look at our social media and communications.
Following on from the BF AGM on October 10th, we continue the series of articles taken from the full 2019-20 Annual Report (found here). In this article, we look at media and communications throughout the year:
Social media and communications activity in 2019-20 built on the innovation and progress made in 2018-19. We continued to increase audience size and engagement across our major communication channels, creating original and interesting content that linked to our website, whilst keeping our audience informed.
Content creation has been supported by additional staff training and a small amount of equipment has been secured to enable the executive team to provide more meaningful content to our fencing communities through different channels. This ‘behind the scenes’ access is intended to help members and stakeholders understand more about what BF do whilst also engaging with new and existing online audiences.
Since launching in June 2018, the website continues to be a focus area for improvement. It remains the ‘home’ of all the information, news and resources from BF. A new, improved events calendar was launched with a mobile-friendly appearance that the user can filter by day, week, month or list view. Licensed events that have been approved through Sport80 appear on the new calendar alongside BF training courses and community events. In 2019-20 we recorded 14,294 clicks on event organisers’ links, made by 12,233 unique users on the site. In response to Covid-19 in March 2019, a Covid-19 zone was created to provide the latest updates, resources and guidance for our members. Looking forward to 2019-20, a new Athlete Development Programme Zone will be designed and launched.
In 2019-2020 we registered 39,273 page views on www.britishfencing.com/activityfinder of which 9,562 were ‘unique page views’, representing a 5% increase year on year.
The Sword underwent a full rebrand in 2019-20, with a modern new look more in line with the BF brand. In light of continual falling funding, feedback from members and the popularity of the online edition, the publication moved to digital distribution with a small print run for members who are unable to access content online.
The Be You. Be Different podcast, first piloted in 2018-19, continued into the 2019-20 year with the completion of Series 1. The interviews covered a broad range of subjects sharing insights from the world of fencing, with the aim of informing our listeners even if they were not fencers themselves.
Episodes included discussions about finance in sport and a guide for parents on how to create a positive sport environment for their children (with Gordon Maclelland from Parents in Sport). We also took a deep dive into our partnership with London Youth, with interviews from John Jones and the coaches at Cray Wanderers Football Club, who described how the partnership gave them the opportunity to successfully deliver fencing to their urban communities.
The podcast also featured an interview with Marcus Mepstead as part of his social impact activity supported by the Aspiration Fund. Marcus shared insights into his Olympic qualification journey and the people who inspire him, just weeks before winning his silver medal at the 2019 World Championships.
Our social audience continued to grow in 2019-20. We created Facebook events to follow GBR progress in major events (at all levels from U17 to Veterans) and continued to support our partners and stakeholders by sharing their messages. We increased the amount of video content created, upskilling staff so we can create more content in-house.
In line with general trends in social platform demographics, we saw a reduction in audience growth rate on Facebook, where our audience increased 5.2% from 10,535 at the end of 2018-19 to 11,086 by March 31st, 2020, versus an increase on Instagram where our audience grew from 2,165 at the end of 2018-19 to 3,099 by the end of 2019-20, an increase of 43.7%. our audience growth rate on Facebook, versus an increase in audience growth rate on Instagram. We responded with increased activity on Instagram including video, Insta stories and highlights of the European Cadet and Junior Championships. We began to share more on Linkedin, growing our audience of industry professionals, sharing industry insights and interacting with stakeholders on this platform. Our Twitter rate continued to maintain a high engagement rate of 1.1% against the 2020 median benchmark of 0.045% across all industries (0.066% for sports teams), which illustrates the quality of our fencing specific audience on this platform.
Overall across the five leading social media channels, BF had over 27,000 followers, an increase of 8% year on year.
Whilst we continue to produce and publish traditional content (for example our reports on major international events), our insight-led ‘Be you, Be different’ brand message gives us the opportunity to use our content, channels and partnerships to further explore areas such as social and environmental responsibility. Building on industry research, this will help us connect with new members and a younger audience and deepen our awareness of how fencing can have a positive impact in our audience’s lives, irrespective of their ability.
The full 2019-20 Annual Report along with the accompanying accounts can be found here.
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