Monday, December 26, 2011

Unplugged: Why We Should Free Facebook & Twitter from Website Menus

What do you want fans to do when they hit your program's site? This is up for debate and interpretation but I would argue that one of the most critical pieces is for fans to literally connect with you - to engage with your team(s) socially so that you can connect together in the future. If we can establish this level of connection, we begin to build a relationship -- not a transaction. In today's world, it means I opt in to follow you on Facebook or Twitter.

Let me ask this question... If you hit Apple's site (shown below) what do you think they want you to engage with?

As you (hopefully) know, I check out a LOT of school Facebook and Twitter pages. If you don't know this, please, stick around - we'll have a fun ride together!

Oddly enough, one thing I feel like I'm always having troubles with is literally finding the school's social media pages. I'm including a few examples below but I could have chosen ten or twenty more. You might find Facebook or Twitter hidden underneath a menu of "Social Media", "Marketing", "Fan Zone", "Fan Central", "Multimedia", "Interactive Zone", "Insider", or I'm sure many other places. Check a few of them below...

"Fan Zone"


"Fan Central"

The point here isn't that these are wrong. The point here is that there are a lot of ways this is being approached, yet none of them enable people to easily follow (and feel compelled to follow) the program and that shouldn't be the case. What if we could distill it down the way Apple does? What if we had one lead program and we made it super easy to sign up or raise your social hand to follow that program? Yes, it would mean prioritizing messages... but on the plus side, yes it would mean prioritizing messages. We all have limited time, we are all busy (if you know me, you know I refuse to use that word for that very reason!). So it is on us to prioritize our message for others. Help them know what's the most important. And then make it easy to do what you want them to do!

As we focus our efforts on this Facebook and Twitter connection with our programs it becomes very important that we elevate this work and don't keep Social Media on an equal playing field to everything else we talk about.

With that, I hope you all have a great Holiday break!

I'll be taking some time off from the blog, but will be back at you on Monday, January 9 with more NCAA digital best practices. Until then, follow me here, or on Facebook (here) or Twitter (I'm @andypawlowski)

As always, thanks for reading!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Colorado Basketball Shows Us How Twitter Can Humanize Our Brands

We often hear that Twitter is fantastic because it can connect you easily to other people - be it celebrities, athletes, icons, business experts, or others with shared interest. But there are far more people brought together than there are connections made. And, to me I believe a lot of this is in the way you tell your own personal story. Do you present yourself in a formal, official way or do you present yourself in a way that really makes others want to connect with you.

As I was strolling through the Twittersphere, I came across an amazing example of using Twitter to be approachable. And being approachable is the first step to making a connection. Take a peak at Assistant Coach Jean Prioleau's Twitter profile, here, and shown below.

This is simply amazing.

He has stated who he is and what he's about in an incredibly succinct yet inviting way. "Assistant Basketball Coach, University of Colorado, willing to talk hoops to anyone that's interested in knowing about our program."


What I love is that the description he uses is personal. And talking hoops is what he's offering. If you love the game, that makes him someone you are comfortable reaching out to. If Coach Prioleau is so approachable on digital, I'm guessing he brings that same attitude to his team, to recruiting, and to his life -- many of those people may come across him on Twitter now as well!

Great, fascinating, and simple example that we should all look at. To get where we want to go, to maximize our potential means to get the most out of what we have in front of us. Coach Prioleau shows us to look at the details of how we present ourselves and set ourselves up for success!

I'll be back on Monday for one final piece before breaking for the New Year. As always, you can follow me on Twitter (I'm @andypawlowski, here) or on Facebook (Digital Hoops Blast, here)

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

San Diego State and the Social-ification of Announcements

It's no secret that conference alignment is a bit confusing, a bit overwhelming, a bit exciting and also a bit frustrating. One of the things that stands out the most to me in what feels like a multi-year process of shifting dynamics is this: When conferences realign, fans talk. A lot. In Social Media. But when conferences realign, they announce it via a press release. And (with all due respect to the fans of press releases), no one reads these.

Now, enter one of the more confusing announcements: San Diego State is entering both the Big East Conference and the Big West Conference (for football and basketball, respectively). As you'll see below, they delivered this news in an incredibly social way that we can all learn from.

First, I saw the news break through the SDSU Athletics Facebook page (here)

As you can see in the video below, SDSU did exactly what ESPN would do in a spot like this -- they went to their experts and had them break down what the move means to the university. This was done quickly, and simply and delivered through social.

But as you can also gather, that's a lot of video content that gets dispersed all over the internet without a home, a hub, to bring everything together. The school needed a way to bring the power of all programs together in one place.

Thus, they transformed the Athletics site into a hub. As you'll note in the images below (and by clicking here), they bring all coaches together and integrate the two new leagues seamlessly together.

All videos aggregate in one spot and in case you aren't in the video clicking mood, key quotes appear below.

The power of the moves, dimensionalized by the school's experts in one spot does two amazing things. One, it gives the fan instant access to what it means - thus getting the base excited. And, Two, this gives the appearance that the programs are united. Every team comes across as happy for this and what it means for the future -- and that is what keeps the boosters, fans, and recruits energized.

A press release tells you the facts. But we don't want the facts, we want the stories. Props to SDSU for giving us the story!

Tune in Friday for more NCAA Digital Best Practices. Or just follow me up on social -- I'm on Twitter, as @andypawlowski (here), and on Facebook as Digital Hoops Blast, here.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 19, 2011

Kansas Basketball Lets You Get Coach Self on Your Answering Machine

The more I think about it, the two most personal areas for most college fans (and for future college athletes) are their social profile and their mobiles. And, if you do it well, the reality is your mobile plan becomes social (and vice versa).

Kansas Basketball is leading with Mobile in a way that, yes, will become extremely social.

I came across this article on ESPN. It took me to Coach Bill Self's Official Crowdrise page (here). Side note, until now I'd never heard of the site "Crowdrise" but it seems like an interesting place to raise funds for good causes. Coach Self, like many of us, has a cause which is important to him. But as you'll see below it's the creativity in his approach that has me a blogging...

Much like the NPR Show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me", Coach Self is offering to record a personal voicemail message for you. To be considered, you need to donate to his cause (helping families in need during the Holiday season). Everyone who donates has a chance and the lucky winner gets Coach Self on their phone.

Check these images.

There's a disclaimer, for sure, as it is not something they are targeting towards prospective student-athletes nor to fans of other teams who'd be upset with this prize. But if you are a current student/diehard fan of the Jayhawks, how sweet would it be for your friends to find not you but Coach Self on the voicemail.

It'd be bragging rights, it's social, and it is something that almost makes you not answer your phone more often.

The only things I'd add to the mix would be to 1) get Coach Self to also drop that voicemail as a Tweet, so the world can see, hear, and admire the winning fan's position as the luckiest Jayhawk fan around and 2) encourage fans to enter this for their friends/family members as a Holiday gift! While the prize may not appeal to you, you'd be hard pressed to find a better gift for a fanatic fan on your shopping list!

And for the rest of us, take inspiration here -- this is a fantastic example of taking a simple idea (a voicemail message) and turning it into a prize that could unite a fan base.
Thanks for reading. You can tune back in Wednesday for more digital best practices. Until then, follow me here, or on Facebook (here) or Twitter (I'm @andypawlowski)


Friday, December 16, 2011

Baylor Athletics Leverages Real Time Photography in Facebook & Twitter

Photography brings people together.

For the same reasons that people take and share pictures via mobiles and Facebook or Twitter, athletics programs should ask themselves how a few timely pictures can bring fans (and recruits) closer to their program.

Baylor Athletics does this across multiple sports inside both Facebook and Twitter. Let's take a peak.

First, Facebook. As you'll see on a visit to the Baylor Athletics Facebook page (here), the team does a great job of giving fans updates on their programs. But it was one post that got my mind revving. Football star Robert Griffin III was at ESPN for the announcement of this year's Heisman Trophy candidates. It's not too long ago that fans would learn via press releases that schools would post to their websites or you'd see in the local paper. Now, fans learn via social media.

But it isn't the fact that Baylor posted about RGIII's status as a finalist. It was how they did it. Check this:

It's a picture, in a moment, packed with emotion. It's a picture that none of us can get. And it dropped into Facebook in realtime!

Now, check out the Baylor Men's Basketball Twitter account, here. As you'll note, the team finished a big victory over Northwestern and then was heading home. The post below appeared on Twitter...

Again, it was a picture in a moment, and a picture that fans can't get themselves. This isn't something you'll find on ESPN or in the local paper. Thus, Baylor is giving their fans value -- and that value is through access.

I love both of these examples because they remind us all that the power of what we see has potential to unite a fan base. It has potential to spread, it gives fans a reason to follow you, and it brings more people closer to the program.

Tune back in Monday for more NCAA digital best practices. Until then, follow me here, or on Facebook (here) or Twitter (I'm @andypawlowski)

As always, thanks for reading!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pac-12 Conference Leverages a Twitter Battle Across Media for Title Game

The Pac-12 held their first-ever Football title recently, with Oregon defeating UCLA and winning a bid in the Rose Bowl. Accompanied with this game, they wanted to activate their fan bases through social media, as the game happened on the field. To do this, they decided to introduce a fan activation contest around Hashtags.

Let's check how this played out...

As you can see in the image below (or on the site, here), the Pac-12 tracked real-time Twitter conversation around Oregon (using hashtag #GODUCKS) or UCLA (using hashtag #GOBRUINS). The hub, on, tracked percentages, and elevated individual user Tweets. Then, at the bottom of the page, they singled out the best Tweets and gave them extra love.

While the results were interesting, it was the amplification of this idea that got me pumped. I don't know if it was planned or not, but television picked up this activation. Check the image below, which aired on the Fox TV broadcast (yes, this is a picture of a TV screen I found on Twitter)...

People talk (or tweet) when they are excited. And, thus, it's super interesting to see in-game coverage of social media chatter. It's kind of the modern-day version of the fan poll. But the opportunity that comes with social media isn't about information but rather about passionate engagement.

So where could this idea go? How could the Pac-12 (or you) make it better? The challenge lies in identifying the benefit of this Social Media challenge to the fan. In other words, the Oregon fan naturally cares about the Ducks winning the game. They aren't wired to care that the Ducks win a social battle. And, thus, I think you need to add some stakes to the mix.

My suggestion is for us to look at how TV networks reward "Players of the Game". They donate to the scholarship fund of the winning athlete's school.

Now, imagine if we could see a conference find an official social media partner and reward the winning fan base with additional contributions to their future - be it scholarships, experiences on campus, or something similar. This would give fans a reason to rally behind the idea rather than relying on them to simply hope they win. Doing this would help the conference grow from a social reach standpoint and would allow them to leverage this as a platform that adds rapid energy around game days, each week!

Tune in Friday for more NCAA Digital Best Practices. Or just follow me up on social -- I'm on Twitter, as @andypawlowski (here), and on Facebook as Digital Hoops Blast, here.

Thanks for reading,


Monday, December 12, 2011

Alabama Basketball Delivers a Powerful Twitter Voice

Alabama Basketball has been one of the pleasant surprises of this year's season -- cracking the top 25 and delivering fresh energy into a program that is more known for their football success. It was that situation that had me intrigued to check out their basketball social media -- could the basketball team develop their own voice, rather than simply be a football voice on the basketball court?

As you'll see today, they not only define their own voice, but they do it in a way that we can all learn from: they get personal.

The journey begins on the Bama Hoops Twitter page, here.

I'm going to call out a few pieces of their energy that will do a great job of illustrating their approach. First, I was drawn to the simplicity and emotion in which they let their fan base wake up to a big matchup (vs Georgetown)... Oddly enough, this is one of those times where all caps and lots of exclamation points make communication better!

So, as the fan base began to respond, posting about the game, Alabama Hoops retweeted their messages. As you'll see in the image below, the cumulative effect of lots of elevated fan voices makes the Alabama page feel very much connected to the pulse of their fans. It works. And, of course, the fans will feel more connected to the program because they were elevated through the retweet.

Finally, as you'll see in the image below, though the Tide lost the game, they engaged with their fan base in a way that was in the moment but yet raw. Pre-game, they posted on the energy. Post game, they were gracious but not vanilla. And the next morning, they were grateful to their fan base. I'll let you read the style, and I think you'll understand how personal this approach is... and you'll start to feel the program.

Which, really, is the goal of social media. Let people feel you. Not feel for you, but feel you. Great model for us all to learn from!

Thanks for reading. You can tune back in Wednesday for more digital best practices. Until then, follow me here, or on Facebook (here) or Twitter (I'm @andypawlowski)