The week is finally here. College Football has arrived, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, and what is great is the fact we are able to see not only the game, but also the digital game that is played out. Some of the hardest and most dedicated professionals who are working in social media are the college sports teams in digital and social media. I think what these teams do is really amazing, and they do set the standard for a lot of practices we see in other industries.
For the past few years, I have tried to write about some teams I am really excited about seeing for the upcoming year, and what were some initial trends I saw happening in the industry. This year is no different, and I wanted to highlight a few teams who have really started off with a strong note on their social media game.
Tennessee: Consistent brand voice with visuals
I love what the Tennessee Volunteers are doing on social media, but if I had to choose one platform they are really excelling in, it’s their Instagram account. Both their posts and IG stories are consistently branded, professionally designed, and aligned with their brand voice and culture. This is one to watch for the upcoming season.
Carl Schmid and his team have been on my radar for the last few years, and this year, they are doing some excellent work with their branding and real-time game updates. They have created a lot of great creative assets that are published immediately. What I also like is the fact 1) Carl is very active in the #SMsports community and shares his insights on the field, and 2) always experimenting around with new tools and features. They were one of the first teams who created some great Snapchat filters for their games, which was cool to see. Keep up the great work, Carl!
Oregon State: Branded content w/ fresh POV of uniform unveiling
When it comes to uniform unveiling and branding content like this, Oregon State had a great way to do this. They integrated one of their athletes into the content, but they also tied in sponsorship (in this case, Toyota) into their messages. This takes into account both the creative of the content on social media, but also the metrics (key to note of course for sponsorships and measurement reports). Awesome job, Russ!
Nebraska: Embracing story with social media
Kelly Mosier and his team at Nebraska are amazing! Not only did their brand announcement with Adidas went off super well, but they really have embraced their own story, voice, and what makes them different from other teams. So many times, there are teams who try to say – this is our team, and this is how we roll. Nebraska ties in emotion, stories, and of course – their community and team together – with every post, update, and strategy.
Colorado State: Owning their story with branded show
One of the trends we are seeing more amongst the teams this season so far is the fact many are 1) creating more opportunities to host branded content, and 2) the rise of owning their story through creating new shows and vlogs. We have seen marketers and social media professionals create their own vlogs and shows (ex. #AskGaryVee show for example), so it makes sense for teams to do this.
Why is this a cool feature for teams? Great longform storytelling. You get to showcase the stories and visuals from your team’s perspective, and it provides a new point of view.
Florida: Innovating with new tools for team
It has been great to see how the Florida Gators social media team (lead by Bruce Floyd) have integrated new features on certain channels. They have been innovative especially on the FB Live video feature. The Gators have launched a new pregame show on Facebook Live ahead of kickoff, which will be a great way to not only engage fans, but cultivate a branded show they are able to host and share w/ those who are not at the game.
Looking forward to seeing what you all come up with this season, Bruce!
Clemson: The gold standard to aim for. GOAT of college #SMSports
Michael Jordan. Serena Williams. Michael Phelps. Simone Biles. What do all of these athletes have in common? They are the greatest of all time (otherwise known as G.O.A.Ts). If there was an award for the social media and sports community for college sports, Clemson would get this award.
When you think they have done it all, they come back with a huge hit on social media. They are innovative, cutting edge, and masters of telling a story visually and strategically across all social channels. This is all due to the team at Clemson (Jonathan Gantt, Jeff Kallin, Nik Coklin, and their amazing students). I got to see their work first hand last year, and this still marks one of the best professional experiences I have ever gotten to see. I am attending the Louisville-Clemson game this year (will be at UofL), and I am looking forward to seeing some great colleagues and friends do their best in creating the best content out there. Definitely taking notes, as always, to make sure I highlight their work and efforts in my classes.
In summary, I think we are going to see some pretty amazing games this year. Keep in mind, there is a game being played out on the field, but there is also one that is happening on social media. Many decisions for donations, recruiting, and reputation exposure are made by what happens on social media. For these teams I mentioned above, these are some of the teams that really get the importance social media plays for athletics.
Hope you all are having a great day.