IU preseason sports videos top social media performance list, study says

Indiana University and other Big Ten schools post thousands of sports-related videos to social media channels, but which types of video perform best on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

The Sports Innovation Institute at IUPUI analyzed 3,748 Big Ten football and men's basketball videos posted by those schools during a three-month period in the 2017-18 season to answer that question.

IU basketball guard Aljami Durham puts up a shot during a gameView print quality image
IU guard Aljami Durham puts up a shot during an NCAA men's basketball game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Nov. 22, 2017.

Those videos netted 112.5 million views, including 45.9 million on Facebook, 25.3 million on Instagram and 41.2 million on Twitter. The videos were tallied for the months of September 2017, November 2017 and February 2018.

The IU video that performed the best across all three social media platforms featured the men's basketball program, as did the second- and third-place videos for cross-channel social media performance.

Collectively, the five IU videos that performed the best across all three social media channels garnered 500,869 views and 35,396 engagements.

The views and engagements with the videos in the form of likes, retweets and comments reflect viewers' "fandom, emotions and identification with a team," said David Pierce, director of the Sports Innovation Institute and an associate professor of sports marketing in the School of Health and Human Sciences.

The study placed each video in one of 13 categories: behind the scenes, sounds of the game, pregame, in-game, post-game, off-season highlights, congratulatory note, history, player/coach bios, personal message from player/coach/athletic director/professional players, preseason hype, community, and professional players.

IU's videos that were in the "preseason hype" category, like this one, performed the best across media channels. This kind of video typically features player highlights combined with emotional music and a call to action.

The study produced its own version of social media X's and O's for sports videos, including identifying optimal video lengths for each of the social media channels: 3 to 4 minutes for Facebook, 90 to 120 seconds for Twitter and 20 seconds for Instagram.

The performance of the Big Ten schools' videos were compared, using a quadrant system based on the average performance of a post measured by engagement and views.

A graphic in the study shows the performance of the football and men's basketball video posts across all platforms. IU videos fall in quadrant 3, a result similar to the performance of social media videos posted by the University of Nebraska. Ohio State and University of Michigan videos led the Big Ten.