It's the final weekend of the 2016 Autumn Series', and the last run out for the Northern and Southern Hemisphere's International rugby teams. While their on field clashes are the focus before a tough 2017 Six Nations and New Zealand Lions Tour, I'm going to take a look at what the teams are doing on social media - and how they're showing their line ups.
ENGLAND (1.8m Likes & 724k Followers)
England have the most followers in the Northern Hemisphere handily on both Twitter and Facebook - but have kept things very simple on social
It's a great offering - and perfectly formatted for both Twitter and Facebook. Font is clear, colours on brand, look great plus it's a quick and easy read to figure out who is playing where. Sponsors are integrated into the photo well and are obvious without feeling shoehorned in. That said, it's not very adventurous. Even a little animation would go a long way. The photo is missing a KO time, TV viewings and hashtag - but this info is all in the copy on Twitter (including "#OMWSeries🌹" hashtag with rose emoji, which is a nice touch) and in the click through article via Facebook.
ARGENTINA (185k Likes & 8k followers)
Possibly the most surprising thing here is that Los Pumas have almost 100 times less followers than the England Rugby Team on Twitter (and a million less Facebook likes). That said, finding their account was a nightmare, and I'm still not sure if it's the official one or not...so I'm not that surprised
Another non-animated image, but with a lot more going on than in England's minimalist and sleek version. Sponsors aren't integrated as well, and instead are jumbled into their own big third down the bottom...and the subs names are encroaching into it. It's blocky, messy and kind of all over the place...but even after all of that it does do it's job and tells you where the game is available, and surprisingly clearly!
SCOTLAND (200k Likes and 245k Followers)
One of the rare teams with more Twitter follows than Facebook likes...Scotland have quite a cool photo, again without animation but with the addiction of photos of players
An awful lot of great in this. Kick off time and location are present, it's really clear who is playing and where they're playing. However it's poorly formatted for Twitter with the replacements, hashtag and further social channels are cut off unless you expand the photo. It's not cut off on Facebook, but the long portrait photo does look a little out of place. However that information (when you can see it) is great. They expand on what social media channels they're on showing the handles and a nice, inclusive "join the team" copy. Hashtag is big and well placed. It's not animated, but from a design standpoint it might be one of better rugby ones I've seen. It's such a shame they've done so much good only to fall at the last hurdle, and not properly format for social.
GEORGIA (242k Likes & 8k Likes)
Matched even with Scotland on Facebook likes, but blown away on Twitter, Georgia have another photo without any animation with a similar photo to position style.
The players inside rugby ball frames and it's colour really stand out from this line up. But the first problem is a big one...the text is too small and too thin to actually read who it starting on a laptop, let alone on a smaller screen! Even the replacements names are bolder and clearer! However the formatting is really nice - it's a good width for Facebook and perfect for Twitter. The social bar along the side is good, although it's taking up a lot of space for something which can't be clicked. There's no kick off time, but a hashtag is included, even if it's written twice.
IRELAND (565k Likes & 568k Followers)
Our first animated line up!
The design is brilliant. Players names are clear, sponsors integrated unobtrusively to the image and all of the information required is in the photo. The movement isn't much, and it's an interesting choice to go with positions - but it's certainly different and dynamic. No photos like some of the other teams - but you can understand why. The black text is kind of hard to read, but this is only if I'm being nitpicky. One oddity, on Twitter this photo is a GIF and loops...but on Facebook it's a video? So once it plays (and it's not long), it ends. It's a strange move not to upload as a GIF to both platforms.
AUSTRALIA (690k Likes & 200k Followers)
From the most animated to the, eh...well. Nothing.
It's a photo of a player + a link to the line up. The photo boarder is nice, team hashtag displayed (sans hashtag) and game hashtag in copy. That's about it for Australia!
WALES (550k Likes and 350k Followers)
Very red and very on-brand. It's back to photos and players.
The welsh have gone with a line of faces and names over anything animated. It's really nicely designed and spaced, but much like Georgia the names themselves are really hard to read - especially the replacements unless you squint. They're the only team to display the line up literally like a line, rather than have the players written down the page. It is better on Facebook with the slightly larger wider image - but it's a shame considering they've put the work into formatting the image across their social media. It feels very compressed on Twitter. But informationally everything is there and it's very on brand and welsh in colour.
SOUTH AFRICA (1.1m Likes & 481k Followers)
Trying something different - the most animated of all the lineups...
Every other team has a list of names, all viewable over one page. South Africa have gone for a very America/TV style line up that flicks through all the players in order. On the internet, where you have (typically) 4 seconds to grab your viewers attention (and a lot of players to get through) this is an interesting decision.
The design is great, with stats included with the players and all the information of kick off and location included in the text at the bottom..but if you wanted to know who was playing fullback - you need to watch the whole GIF...and there's no link to a news story for better way to view the team. The GIF is also very pixelated since they are meant for short and lightly animated photos, not a 16+ page slideshow.
FRANCE (500k Likes & 445k Followers)
Another slightly different design and another names line up, but with a team photo.
It's an interesting take on the most-seen design. Half of the image is taken up with the photo and information plus it's odd to see the replacements getting as much space as the starters. Colours work well, and everything is on the image you'd need. It looks quite flashy, but really is surprisingly simple. It's an interesting image that you couldn't help but feel needs something a little more. The formatting is also great, going for the bigger sized image that scales for Twitter.
NEW ZEALAND (4.2m Likes & 690k Followers)
Defending World Champions in rugby and Facebook likes champion (although trailing England on Twitter), New Zealand line up a another simple offering.
Very easy to read with a lot of clear information. Another simple photo based line up very similar to England's. No player images and no animation - but again it's hard to find anything that's a problem. All the info you want is there and it's well designed, on brand and formatted for social media.
So, that's five with names only, two with names and photos, two GIFs, and one with just a link. It's clear which is the preferred method - but great to see teams starting to push social media and especially high quality imagery a little further year on year.
Rugby is a hard sport to show the line up for. You have fifteen starters and seven more players on the bench. When you factor in all the other information needed to that it's a lot to fit into one image for social media.
I'd expect to see more interesting GIFs for lineups as we proceed through 2017 - but it's interesting to see the teams with the most resources not necessarily doing everything they could be with their social line up - and opting for simple and easy to replicate photos.