Essex had spent just one of their previous 13 seasons in the top tier of the County Championship prior to last summer.
Odds-on favourites to be relegated, they defied all expectations by completing a remarkable unbeaten season this year that saw them secure their first Division One title since 1992.
Following an unprecedented two years of glory, Calacus spoke to Alastair Cliffe, Media and Communications Officer at Essex Cricket, to find out how they have adapted their communications strategy to match their on-field success.
“Sporting success has given us a much bigger captive audience and so it’s essential to ensure there is a strategy in place to engage these fans,” said Alastair.
“Video highlights provided by the ECB have allowed us to upload clips instantly on social media, something that has been very well received by the fans.
“Live streaming has also enabled us to reach fans that cannot attend games and has helped turn Essex Cricket into a more global brand.
“Launching this coincided with the signing of Pakistan international fast bowler Mohammad Amir and the live streaming of his performances has allowed fans from Asia to watch their hero in action.
“Social media engagement exploded with Amir’s huge fanbase, but with something like this it’s important to be clever and make sure we are not overdoing it, ensuring posts reach the right audience at a time when they are likely to be online.”
These factors have seen Essex gain over 15,000 Twitter followers since mid-May and more than double their fanbase on Facebook, rising from 35,000 to 75,000 likes in the same period.
With the English county summer played between April and September, there are six months of the year when the club does not play any cricket and maintaining that level of growth on social media can be a challenge.
But with the all-year round international schedule and owned content that Essex create themselves, the club does not find it difficult engaging with fans during the winter months.
“It is about coming up with different and exciting content; around Christmas and Easter we run a lot of social competitions and we’re blessed with a few of the players that play internationally in tournaments like the BPL (Bangladesh Premier League) and IPL (Indian Premier League).
“There are always things going on and it is a common misconception that we put our feet up for six months when the season ends!”
Alastair believes that Essex can continue to build on the competitive and commercial success they enjoyed this season and is optimistic for 2018 and beyond.
“The massive thing for us now is jumping on the County Champions wave and pushing that through in our content which will be central to our membership and ticketing plans for next year.”
By taking advantage of the video footage provided by the ECB and creating unique content that all their fans, old and new, local and international, can connect with, Essex are now one of the most-supported counties on Twitter.
With a team full of home-grown players who have proved a match for every side they have faced, the future for Essex looks positive – likely giving Alastair and his team plenty of good news to share in the years to come.