WE NEED MORE STORYTELLING IN COLLEGE SPORTS
Front Porch Athletics intern Seth Jones, a senior at Montclair State University, took a deep dive into how 10 different schools – of all sizes – utilized their Twitter accounts to share information.
William & Mary
William and Mary have an active Twitter page that they post on regularly. Most of what they post is photos of players and teams in order to promote games and events throughout the month. While it is good to see this promotion to get attendance and support at games, it is not effective storytelling that can expand the reach at the top of the marketing funnel. It appeared that William and Mary their made only one video that showcased individual players and showcased student-athlete personalities. If they were to make more student-athlete focused video content that people could connect with, they would have more success in engagement and likely increase attendance.
Monmouth athletics post a lot of game-related content which Front Porch Athletics terms the “game trap” on a regular basis across all of their teams. In the month of March, you can see that they focused on the basketball program as they attempted to win their conference tournament. Monmouth is really good with their content but I wish they did more student-athlete focused content to see how these players deal with this type of pressure and how they work together as a team. The only content that we can really find is a short interview during the press conference and other video that just shows the team traveling to the games. If they really want the community to come out and support them, they need to show the personality of the players. That way, we can “connect with them.” The only content that showed personality of a player was posted about a football player about why he chose to come to school. But it was all audio. While this was a good piece it would have been better to show this player at least on a video chat if it could not be done in person.
Villanova- BIG EAST
Villanova has one of the most popular men’s and women’s basketball programs in the nation which should be an emphasized area to showcase the personality and talent of the players. I expected their video content to have the basketball team but as I looked through the player content, I found that the best content they had was actually produced on the women soccer team. They had a video up that had one player mic’d up for the practice. We got to see what a typical practice was like for the player and how they come together as a team to train. Another was a player interview in regard to the recent games played by the soccer team. Both videos were great examples of player focused content to help promote a team. But I couldn’t find this type of content that is produced for the more well-known men’s and women’s basketball team. Instead, they post way too much “game trap” which only speaks to those already directly engaged with the teams. I also didn’t notice any video involving behind-the-scenes of the players on the run-up to the Final Four. Why should that only come from the media? The athletic department has greater access to the team and we could have seen their own posts to showcase the joy, emotion, and excitement. Content of the families talking about the sons and the overall experience would have given even more depth to an already great story. While the staff is really busy during this time of the year this was a story that needed to be told.
LSU athletics is another major “game trap” school that has heavy emphasis on score graphics and highlights. They lack original content on their page which is a problem since many of their current athlete are already popular on social media in their own right. LSU should make more of an effort to showcase these students and others to help promote their games and ticket sales. The one piece of original content that was produced in March was a great piece about mardi gras and how the students, faculty and more are involved within the community during these celebrations. This video was great because it gave the opportunity for people to get exposed to the culture at LSU and get a look into the personality of the students.
Kansas has one of the best D1 basketball teams in the nation and it shows especially in March. They are constantly posting content about their basketball team multiple times a day. They have many clips of player interviews, as well as player-focused content. Many great NBA players attended Kansas and you can see that the school takes advantage of that by having their alumni create short clips to either congratulate the team or promote the national tournament. I would have liked to see even more behind-the-scenes interactions with players and their families as we saw them progress all the way to the national championship. This extra effort would have told a great story about all of the hard work and sacrifice that these players face daily and connected even more with the fans of the Kansas basketball team. I would also encourage Kansas to put this same emphasis on their other sports.
UCLA is another D1 university with very popular and has prominent athletes with their own incredible social feeds. But UCLA’s social media doesn’t have much student-athlete focused content and mostly posts “game trap” content. With the amount of great athletes and stories surrounding the athletic department staff, they should be able to easily create player focused content on a weekly basis. This will allow a greater audience to connect with athletes while also engaging their current audience even if the team happens to not perform as well as expected. In order to grow attendance at all sports, UCLA should be the king of storytelling to further break through in the entertainment capital of the world.
Harvard - Ivy League
I can’t imagine what it would be like to attend Harvard or play on one of their competitive Ivy League teams. Those who do must have incredible stories and I was surprised to see almost nothing that showed how these students are able to compete at a high level while also maintain a high standard of academics. This should be emphasized more within the social media that they have. We already know that there are a lot of student athletes at Harvard that want to do more than just be an athlete, and if these students are doing something great other than their sport we should know about it. While Harvard does post a Student-Athlete of the Week, it was so much focused on their sport and therefore fell into the “game trap.” With the amount of scholars, Harvard should be much more engaging on social media.
Penn State - Big 10
Penn State was another surprise. I expected so much more. Penn State is such a popular school and another that is the “only show in town.” I thought I would get a lot of features, athlete profiles and short behind-the-scenes content. But they fell mostly into the “game trap” every. For a big school like this there should be plenty to film daily. The lack of content is not good and will not help to drive their promotions or engagement.
Boston University - America East
BU is very good at keeping up with most of their sports and advertising the promotions they have for events and games on campus. They are only lacking the specific content to back up these promotions. When they put out their advertising, they always have a link for how people can attend their games, but on top of that they should also be creating player content to supplements these posts. If the Boston and school community is able to connect to these students, they would have increase engagement and potentially increase attendance in an already big sports hub.
BYU - West Coast
Besides the student-run television network, BYU does not have much content on their social media. They are not only lacking player content post, but posts in general. BYU is a major sports school that should have a lot of great stories to share. Many people do not know how unique BYU is compared to other universities. If they could showcase the “specialness” of their student-athletes, it would make for great stories that people could relate to or at least find interesting.