I’m finally going in to my alma matter… It’s time to continue our journey through the NCAA Digital Landscape, revealing my ten favorite digital and social media best practices from the Missouri Valley Conference. The goal remains the same: to shine a light on programs who are trying new things in the hope of inspiring the rest of us towards something even greater.
Here we go.
10. Wichita State Brands Wins Together
Wichita State introduced a program-wide hashtag this year: #WATCHUS. I was a bit unsure how this would play out, but when I saw it modified to tell a story, the campaign was a hit. As you’ll see in the images below, the Shockers can now transform and unite all victories, across all programs under the umbrella #WATCHUS WIN. I love the additive effect wins across multiple programs can have on the overall Shocker brand. You can follow the entire #WATCHUS campaign on Twitter here.
9. Indiana State’s Train Like a Madman Downloadable Poster
Indiana State has created a series of downloadable posters that are available to all fans (and recruits) online, here. This is a great idea, as it adds scale to the things they are already doing – getting more eyes on their team poster series. But they go further. As you’ll see below (or here if you want to download it), the Sycamores have added one poster that infuses the attitude the program hopes to instill in their student-athletes. In doing so, they have created a rallying cry for fans and potential recruits.
8. Wichita State’s “Pin It To Win It” Pinterest Contest
Pinterest is clearly one of the fastest-growing social communities. But it’s also one of the tougher ones for teams to fully seize. The best approach is to encourage consumers to do what they already do in Pinterest… and to make it more valuable or cool to do so. Enter WSU. The Shockers launched their Pin it to Win It contest with a simple premise: Create a Board and include at least 12 Pins that define what Wichita State Athletics Means to you. If yours is chosen, you win 4 tickets to a game (in the front row) and $50 to spend while you’re there. This is great because it encourages more WSU activity on Pinterest in a way that fits perfectly with how consumers use the network. Authentic and simple. Read more here.
7. Sounds of the Upset from Southern Illinois
The Missouri Valley is an intense league to play in — with anyone capable of beating anyone. But when your year isn’t hitting expectations (as SIU’s year season is falling), there still is this capability. And most of these tough wins are better felt and heard than read about. Check out how the Salukis give you incredible access into their win and energy that emerged from the upset of Creighton.
6. Bradley Connects with Fans to Give Away Tickets
I’ve always admired those who dare to test the water. That’s exactly what Bradley Athletic Director Michael Cross did, taking to Twitter to give away tickets to a Braves game this season. His goal was clear – to drive growth of his page, and he offered a reason to encourage others to follow him, shown below.
B the 200th person to follow me on Twitter and you will receive first row tix to a future Bradley game. Ready, go!
— Michael Cross (@MichaelCrossAD) December 4, 2012
But the cool part wasn’t simply idea but the potential interaction it uncovered, like this post below:
— Michael Cross (@MichaelCrossAD) December 8, 2012
I feel it is this style of interaction and conversation that we can all learn from and apply.
5. Illinois State Delivers Starting Lineups Via Instagram
The concept of starting lineups is so critical. It’s the point in time when both teams and their fans focus and get ready to roll. And it’s in my opinion one of the biggest differences from being in the arena/stadium and not. Key to this is the visual connection you get by being there. Illinois State unveiled their starting lineups via an Instagram image (here) which gives you the quick soundbyte you want in social media and the experience you can’t get unless you’re there. I think we’re seeing a sneak peak into the future of starting lineups – and the future of real value in real time from social media.
4. Indiana State Packs Deep Visual Recaps into Facebook and YouTube
Sometimes I think we err on the side of not sharing enough after a game. It’s not about needing more posts, but rather of offering enough depth and substance in the posts we make. Indiana State has a different approach and (as you’ll see below) it’s pretty intriguing. First, they take to Facebook – posting an incredibly deep photo album around the game. This album from their win over Southern Illinois went 101 pictures deep. The album was tagged at the Hulman Center (which will help create a record of action at the arena) and they added a simple description to the album, at the top. Pretty cool execution.
Indiana State then went a step further, posting a full game recap into YouTube, here.
This combination of recapping our action in deep and personal ways has huge potential to shape the brand of our programs… and of course to influence future student athletes to want to join in the experience.
3. Coaches Give a Glimpse Into What’s In Front of Them, Via Twitter
Twitter is an amazing place to see the true, unbridled personalities of coaches at play. There’s two examples I came across that make this incredibly apparent to see. First, I love how Creighton’s Coach Greg McDermott responds to a tough loss, unprompted and authentic:
Things I know for sure:1. The sun will come up today2. I love my team3. We will get better4. We won’t point fingers5. Learn and move on
— Coach McDermott (@cucoachmac) January 24, 2013
Then, by contrast, I loved the humor in the journey brought to the social world from Southern Illinois Coach Barry Hinson.
On our way to Wichita. I’ve now seen it all! twitter.com/CoachBHinson/s…
— Barry Hinson (@CoachBHinson) January 8, 2013
All coaches should have this same willingness to be open, honest, and reactive to what’s in front of them — be it a tough loss or an impossible to fathom pizza.
2. Missouri Valley Illustrated on Pinterest
The best things in social media make you wish they were real. That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the MVC’s Pinterest Gallery for “Missouri Valley Illustrated.” As you’ll see below (or here), they have created a franchise – a virtual publication that shows off incredible photography and tells the conference’s hottest stories in a compelling way. The style makes you feel like the stage is big, and the consistency makes you long to get the next installment. Can I subscribe to get the full magazine somehow? Please.
1. Wichita State Transforms Losses Into Brand Uniting Moments
It is tough to post after a loss. But, in an ironic twist, losses are actually among the best times for a program to build their connection to their fans. After all, you are all in it together, and it is that moment where you can be the most real. As you’ll see below (and here), Wichita State has created iconic posters that rally everyone together by simply using the powerful words of their coaches or their fans… and sometimes a great photo. The result is powerful and uniting. And your eyes are drawn to the right places. I love this one!
That’s it. Thank you for hanging with me through another league!