Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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March 24, 2014

6 Social Media Trends from #MarchMadness

It’s been an eventful and emotional March Madness this year! From Cinderella stories to major upsets, it’s been quite the overall experience for NCAA Basketball.

One of the major elements we are of course seeing along with great teams and players is the growth of social media strategy and implementation for universities who are participating in the tournament, primarily on Twitter.

We have incorporated a lot of social media strategies and campaigns for the University of Louisville this year when it comes to March Madness. UofL has being using their established their social media hub and have been working hard to come up with some innovative and creative campaigns for fans, media, and the UofL community to participate and get engaged in. Stay tuned to what we all have planned coming up to our game in the Sweet Sixteen!

How has social media been used so far in #MarchMadness? There are a lot of strategies and campaigns that have been utilized, and here are just a few of the trends we have seen from a social media perspective:

  • Becoming the platform to go to to respond to fans after a loss and upset: After Wichita State lost yesterday to Kentucky, they went to their various social media platforms and sent out a message to their fans and those who have been supporting them this year. We also saw this when Dayton beat Syracuse as well in the tournament – fans, media personalities, and others got on social media and shared their initial reactions with the world.
  • Rise of Selfies: If this year’s March Madness shows anything in terms of emerging trends, then it would be that of the selfie. From Coach Martin from Tennessee posting an epic selfie after winning their game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen to the President of the University of Dayton taking one while crowd surfing after their upset win, it seems to be  all part of the strategy for creating content that people can share and discuss with each other. UofL has created a campaign dedicated to this as well called #CardinalSelfie, which you can check out here with the photos from fans and others showing their Cardinal spirit during the tournament. So – in case you needed some tips on how to create a selfie, here’s a short video on how to do that. :)
  • Infographics and Data Visualization on the Rise to be part of the story: We all like interesting statistics and information, and info graphics for March Madness have created this for teams to utilized and showcase their information in a  visual manner, like this one from Mashable. Whether it is about providing information about brackets or updates from the team’s games, these will continue to be part of the digital strategy to produce information that is visual and relevant for social media strategies.
  • Evolving lessons and best practices for brands: This is an event that creates a lot of opportunities for brands in terms of sponsorship, but a lot are of course monitoring and listening to what event they can get involved in to tap into some real time marketing opportunities, which can be seen here. However, there is a time and place for this, which is one lesson KFC learned just a few days ago during March Madness.
  • Establishing influence by having exclusive content and engaging fans on social media: There are many accounts and the NCAA has been proactive in addressing the role of social media in March Madness by of course setting up branded content and incorporating it into their app. However, we are seeing also the rise of posts on who to follow on social media for the latest and updated content. However, these are not just media personalities, but others that have established themselves with creating engaging and even interactive content for social media. I
  • Social media is getting integrated into everything: It’s almost to the point where social media has to be aligned and connected to all traditional aspects of strategic communications nowadays, and we are seeing this clearly not only with the teams, but also with traditional media. Sports Illustrated put fans on their cover and tagged them with their usernames, which does show again the prominence of social media in society. Also, this is an opportunity for universities to come up with their own branded content whether it is established hashtags, logos, and photo contests to engage, interact, and showcase the personality of the team and university to the online community.

In summary, there are a lot of lessons to be noted for March Madness so far, and we are not even done with the tournament. I am sure we are going to look at these trends and see what we can do to improve these and even integrate them in other forms of social media campaigns. Major props to all of the teams – great work! And, got to of course give a shout out to the UofL Athletic Department and social media team for doing a great job with all of the content, updates, and visuals they are sharing to keep all of the fans updated!

It’s been an exciting time to be a fan of basketball, especially being at the University of Louisville! Looking forward to the game this Friday against Kentucky and Go Cards!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

February 25, 2014

Help Me, Help You in Social Media Education: Part Deux in Rick Pitino Social Media Case

I wrote about this topic a few days ago when the story first came out. Of course, this sparked a lot of conversation among my friends and colleagues as well as students in my social media class about the topic.

Another popular blog post that talked about this topic came from Nick Stover, who shared some good points about what people need to know when it comes to social media and coaches at UofL. After a few days, the topic has reemerged via social media and the blogosphere, I have to thank Jason Falls for inspiring me to write this post.

I’ve known Jason a few years now and he has been a tremendous resource for all of us in working, teaching, and researching in social media. He has been a great person to reach out to and talk about various trends and issues in social media – I actually had a chance to interview him last year for a study that I worked on with a few colleagues of mine. Also, I was able to spend some time chatting with Jason as well as participating on quite the travel adventure this past June from the Integrate Conference. This was the day that we will remember as the time that it took us all day to get back to Louisville from Philly. Major props and thanks to Jason for helping me out on this! These are just some of the major reasons why I respect Jason as a person and as a prominent voice in the field of social media.

Jason wrote this blog post yesterday regarding the comments and point of view Coach Pitino has taken on social media for his athletes. I absolutely agree with Jason on the role that coaches can take when it comes to educating athletes on social media.

One of the things that could be done in this area is to lead by example – like how Coach Pitino does on the basketball court. Social media in general is another court – there are some rules and expectations for people to follow and there are times where you have the have the referee come out and say – okay, that was not right.

Another point that makes what Jason say more impactful is the fact he worked as a sports reporter previously and with collegiate athletics as well, so he has a window into the landscape and overall culture of this industry. He made a comment in this post about how an Instagram video from Russ Smith became viral and integrated into the mainstream media after the win against Cincinnati.

The point is for student-athletes in the role of social media education is to provide them with the skills and tools they will need to be able to handle social media commentary and managing their online presence AFTER graduation and finishing up the their collegiate eligibility. Some may go on to the pros, but a lot of them are going to go pro in something else – whether it is business or engineering or communications. The students need to have the skills and education to be able to translate what they are doing as a student-athlete on social media to what they will do in the workplace.

There are so many opportunities for implementing social media for athletics right now. Let’s imagine this possible scenario – what if you had 1) a team that was having an awesome year in their sport and having the potential to win another national championship 2) great engagement with the student-athletes on social media who were posting great content to showcase their skills, 3) a coach that was also on social media interacting with media, fans, and their student-athletes on social media and off the court as well.  You can say that this would be the perfect combination, right?

Louisville has 2/3 points to fulfill this scenario – and the possibilities that this could bring to the University of Louisville and Louisville community are tremendous. Jason has done some work with UofL Athletics, but not basketball. However, UofL has a social media class (actually several) for the students to take. I’ve had several student-athletes come and take my class so far ranging from sports from football, swimming, volleyball, cheerleading, and dancing.

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With this in mind, I do think that this discussion needs to continue on the issue of social media education. As Jerry Maguire says in the movie, “help me help you.” We are here to help, Coach Pitino – there are many professionals like Jason Falls and at UofL who would be more than happy to be part of this social media initiative. As I mentioned in my last post on this topic, you’re more than welcomer to stop by my class and see what we go over. We’re all on the same team here, so let’s get the ball rolling on this.

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,


February 9, 2014

Sochi 2014 is the not just the social games, but the Instagram Games

The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics have started and the world is of course following the results and cheering on their teams both through traditional and social media means. The time has finally come for athletes around the world to jump, ski, skate, and participate in the bobsled in Sochi, Russia.

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Even though the games have just started, we have experienced and witnessed some early social media (and crisis communications) trends already for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Here are a few elements I saw that caught my attention for social media professionals to pay attention to:

  • Hello Instagram, Good bye Facebook for social media sites for must follows for the games:  We have seen lists from everyone from Buzzfeed to others on must follow accounts for the Winter Olympic Games. It seems that FB was so 2008, and now we are seeing Instagram become not only a powerful visual platform, but the one where athletes, brands, and society are following for exclusive photos and visual stories from the games.
  • Reporting exclusively first on Instagram: We have already seen reports and articles featuring the best pictures from the games. Yes, we still are seeing updates being featured of course on Twitter, but it’s interesting to see how this is developing and if this is going to be the trend for future 2014 events. Why is this the case? This article from Huffington Post talks about how certain Instagram accounts will “bring life” to Sochi – which is interesting and key to point out here.
  • Sochi 2014 is Social indeed – showcasing both positive and negative events on social media: We have many ways to follow what is going on in the winter games for sure. We have seen lists about which accounts to follow and make sure to watch for sure, but we also have seen issues come up from the games, which brings up the next point I want to share.
  • Social media has been the place to point out problems and issues: Can we say @SochiProblems? Pictures, stories, and updates from journalists to athletes showcasing what are some of the main issues  and problems happening before and during games are being shared (and becoming viral) on social media. From pictures of hotel rooms that are not finished to other problems, there are stories and articles that have just covered this. In many ways, these are the events and actions that are taking up most of the attention for the Winter Games, and this of course causes a crisis for the organizers and other parties involved. Are they gone? Not really.
  • Brands are utilizing event to engage in real-time marketing: Like most events, brands are actively engaged in sharing, cheering, and positioning their brand as part of the news of the games. Whether it is for particular athletes or teams, we are seeing the brands showcasing their position and message related to the event.

Several students wrote about their insights and thoughts regarding the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Here are some of the posts from students in #Freberg14:

Overall, the Sochi 2014 Winter Games are already showing some new trends and strategic practices for social media for brands and individuals to pay attention to for sure. Some are trends we have seen before, but others we need to evaluate and pay attention to. Wishing all of the USA team members, coaches, and support staff a safe and wonderful time in Sochi for the Winter Olympic Games. Go USA!

Hope you all are having a great day.

Best Wishes,

January 29, 2014

Content may be King, but the rest of the Court [Passion, Distribution, and Strategy] are also key

They saying that you hear a lot of times is how content is king. This can be applied in various contexts and situations, but I think the most recent cases have involved how this can be used for social media purposes. Providing useful, engaging, and insightful information that is beneficial for the community you are trying to reach is essential in building relationships and trust online.

While I think this is of course important, we have to be aware of the fact we can’t forget about the rest of the court. Distribution at times is referred to as a queen, but I think strategy has to have a factor somewhere in the royal court if we are using this type of reference. I would also add passion and enthusiasm to the mix as well. You may have all of the great content and fancy platforms to share these great points for your audiences, but if you don’t consider the best way to share this information for where your communities would be able to see it along with not being excited about it, it’s not really going to work.

These are the types of points I have been trying to communicate in my class. That’s why my students are writing two blog posts a week for class. One post is dedicated to the class topic for the week – so they are able to write, critique, and share their point of view when it comes to social media. However, the other post they have to write is up to them. I talk about this as their personal post – where they can write about their hobbies, interests, and even particular brands and personal experiences they want to share with the online community.

So far, I have been impressed to see the creativity and the openness the students have shared with the class as well as on social media with these posts. It’s been a way to get to know the students in class – and I realize of course that each student has their own persona and presence when it comes to their blog. I have found at times they need no reminding about writing these blog posts. In fact, they are exceeding the expectations and guidelines when it comes to level of length of the post as well as depth.

I’d like to share a story of one of my students who is in my #Freberg14 class and how her blog really got some huge hits in just a day. Molly wrote a blog oat that focused on what people may not know about the Louisville LadyBirds, the dance team that has won a ton of national titles for the university. Molly is a Ladybird and shared insights about the team that others may not be aware of before.  Discussions on what goes on behind the practices and the amount of community service and activities outside of games the members of the dance team do is pretty inspirational.

Blog stats for Molly’s Post (courtesy of Molly Goldstein).

So, what was the result? Molly wrote such a great blog post that it immediately was shared and viewed on Twitter and online. In one day, she got more than 2,300 views from over 13 different countries. Wow! That is really great and congratulations on the numbers, Molly! I have had several students who have been part of the UofL Ladybirds in class since I have been at Louisville. These are indeed some of the hardest working students I have had in class. Molly is just beginning her blog for this class, and I am sure that this will continue to grow and become a great outlet to share stories, insights, and perspectives on this topic with the local, national, and even international community.

In summary, I think that this is why blogging and allowing students to write about content that they are passionate about in addition to discussing class topics is key. The best way to become a better writer is to write, which is true – but if you allow students the opportunity to write on a regular basis on topics that they are passionate about and like – that is the perfect combination here. You seem to write your best when you are interested, passionate, and engaged with the content. It’s going to be different for each person, and I think that’s perfectly fine.

For me as a professor, it has been great to see what students are writing about and what they are interested in. I would strongly recommend this to my fellow colleagues and professors who are teaching social media and who require their students to blog for class. I think you will be amazed with the stories, insights, and results you will have by adding this component to your class. For me, it’s been a truly inspirational experience to witness and I am very proud of what all of my students have done so far this semester with their blogs.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


January 22, 2014

The art of positive teaching: Lessons to become a mentor for students through social media

I would say that teaching – especially in college – is one of the most rewarding experiences and professions anyone can have. I am not necessarily talking about

I personally view teaching like coaching, and I feel I had a chance to be mentored by two of my role models in life: Mom and Dad. Dad was my coach when I was a thrower and really taught me how to work hard, be dedicated, and taught me how to train and be the best I could be in track and field. It has also been great to brainstorm ideas and talk about marketing and PR (Dad worked for companies in Marketing like Nestle and Mars to name a few – yes, all foodie companies!) His work ethic and positive coaching really has influenced me both on and off of the throwing field.

Dad and I at a USC Meet (Coach Dad)


Mom has been a great mentor for me in academics and being one of the main mentors I have had in academics and research. Her guidance, dedication and work ethic with research and teaching is inspirational – I learned a lot also through the process about writing and being confident in the classroom and talking about research. I would not be the person I am today without both of these wonderful people. :) Shout out to Mom and Dad!! :)

Dr. Freberg 1.0 (aka Mom) and I (Dr. Freberg 2.0) with Google Glass!

Anyway, back to teaching – I view my role as a professor is to provide students not only with the opportunity to learn about the field I am in, but grow from the experience. Enhancing their skills, mentor them, and engage them on their own turf essentially (ex. social media) where you can guide them to opportunities to enhance and empower their skills in the field.

How do you translate coaching to become an effective teacher? Here are some steps I found to be useful in my experience teaching:

  • Share resources: Whether it is about blogging to writing about certain topics, you can be viewed as a person where students can go to to ask questions about where to start finding resources on a particular topic, especially if it is a specialization within the field.
  • Connecting students for networking opportunities: This is HUGE. You need to be active in the professional field so you can connect students with leaders in the field. Engage and reach out to them via Twitter and share their blog posts with the class. Invite them via Skype or in person to come to class.
  • Lead by example: If you want students to do the work, you want to show them that you are doing it along with them. I have done this with my social media class – I am blogging, researching and coming up with ideas for social media campaigns, and networking along with them. Showing them it can be done is good for them to see – you don’t want to feel like they are doing just “busy work.” Dad worked out with me when I was competing in track and Mom is writing research articles and teaching along with me.
  • Becoming a leader AND participant in the classroom: Yes, you are a professor and are responsible for the material presented. However, you want to be approachable and receptive from learning from the class as well. I’m excited when I get to learn about a new app or tool my students found and want to share with the class. I think that’s fabulous! With this mindset, it creates a dynamic and energetic learning environment for everyone.
  • The art of positive teaching: Consider feedback to be constructive of course – this is still the same – but when students have exciting news – let them know you are proud of them! My Dad wrote a great article back in 2000 about the art of positive coaching, and I think this has so many good messages and points here that it can definitely be translated into teaching as well. I have seen so many cases where students have reached out to me and said they have gotten a job, internship, and wonderful opportunity where they have shared it with me on Twitter or other social media sites. I have developed the hashtag #proudprof for that reason and this is what I share on Twitter and Instagram. Taking the time to give a shout out (or S/o) to a student makes a world of a difference. Like positive coaching, positive teaching is also very effective.

In essence, I feel very honored and privilege to be part of a great profession that is so rewarding. It is exciting and inspiring for me to see the future professionals grow, learn, and see that light bulb go off when it all connects with them. Great classes are made up of great students, and I have been very fortunate to have some amazing students in my classes both this semester and previous semesters. :)

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

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