Growing up in country New South Wales, National Rugby League (NRL) was a sport I remember hearing about from a very young age. Times have certainly changed and these days whether you are an avid NRL supporter like myself or someone who barely follows it, there is no denying social media is a strong platform for NRL promotion.
What about Holden, VB and Harvey Norman? These are a few of the brands known to a large variety of people, with and without links to the NRL, which use social media platforms to engage with their followers, all whilst promoting the NRL through their sponsorship of different NRL teams.
Have you ever though about how often you come across a company who has an affiliation with a sport you don’t follow? Yet you are aware there is a connection.
Recently I came across a link on Facebook to a wellness blog. The headline was catchy so away I clicked. After a little reading of this blog, the NRL was mentioned. Naturally, I grew more inquisitive. Unbeknown to me, the blog I had been reading is run by Kayla Boyd, a former model and fashion store owner and wife of the Brisbane Broncos captain Darius Boyd. Strangely enough, this wasn’t the first time I had found myself unknowingly engaging with the spouse of an NRL star through social media.
The ability for anyone to follow, relate and engage with almost any NRL player on multiple social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and Instagram, generates greater access to the NRL and its players. This in turn reaches a larger audience through the sharing of posts, tagging of friends in comments and pictures and reposts by other individuals or organisations. Players personal accounts often provide insights in to their everyday work routines via pictures and video clips. These range from training to game days and are shared with their often hundreds of thousands of followers. Most players not only give insight in to their work routines, but often their personal lives too. Sharing photos of their families, vacations and aspects of their everyday lives to name a few.
In October 2015 history was made during the NRL grand final.
That day Johnathon Thurston, arguably the greatest player of all time, sent social media in to a frenzy with his golden point kick and picture captured with his daughter preceding the game.
According to this article by Mumbrella, that grand final weekend the battle of the hash tags between the NRL and Australian Football League (AFL) was clearly won by the NRL. 106,000 #nrlgft hash tags were used across multiple social media platforms. A staggering 14,000 more than the AFL had reached during its grand final through its use the hash tag #aflgf.
Whilst there is no perfect way to measure how great the use of social media is at recruiting people towards supporting the NRL, its presence within multiple social media platforms certainly makes it hard not to be aware that the NRL exists.