Monthly Archives: February 2012

NCAA Recruiting Meets Social Media

NCAA RECRUITING MEETS SOCIAL MEDIA

by Emily Droessler / @EmilyDroessler

According to the official rules of Social Media and Recruiting on the NCAA website, the NCAA does “not allow comments about possible recruits on an institution’s social media page or a page belonging to someone affiliated with the institution”.

Twitter has become one of the more popular recruiting tools in college athletics and tweeting is permissible as long as coaches are not using it to contact individual prospective student-athletes.  Coaches also have to make sure that they abide by the recruiting rules; this means that they cannot post about specific results.

Social media is a free service that has turned every person into a reporter and has allowed every tweet or comment to be over-analyzed and shared publicly.  The NCAA limits the number of phone calls made to recruits and bans text messaging, but when it comes to social media it is far less regulated.  Of course coaches are not allowed to write on Facebook walls or tweet directly at recruits but they are able to send private messages on Facebook or direct messages via Twitter.

What good does it do a coach who is thinking about recruiting a player but on whom no decision has been made?  Coaches can keep track of whom the recruits are friending and following, which gives them useful information on who else is interested in the recuits.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING CAN BE FOR THE WORSE

The use of social media for college football recruiting can be negative however.  In January it led to an expulsion of a high school player – Yuri Wright from Don Bosco.

Wright was expelled in January for comments he made on Twitter that were allegedlyy sexually graphic or racist in nature.

Not only was Wright expelled from high school but schools like Michigan stopped recruiting him.

Wright, who has since committed to play football at Colorado, said he hopes others will learn from his mistakes. “Hopefully, other people will learn from what happened to me and make smarter choices,” he said, “My days with social media are over, I promise.  No more Twitter.  No more Facebook.”

SO HOW CAN SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING STAY POSITIVE?

Many recruits, including Matt Cochran from Buhach High School in California, are using social media in a way that portrays a positive image and gets their name out there.  Cochran was able to jump-start recruitment by Facebook messaging numerous coaches across the country with a link to a YouTube video of his highlight reel.  Before sending messages Cochran said his recruitment process was rather slow but after the messages it was anything but.

Norm Roberts, a coach at St. John’s, reluctantly had to get Facebook last August because he found it nearly impossible to call kids on the phone and have them answer.  “They don’t want to communicate like that,” he said.
Coaches and recruits say that 50 percent of their recruiting action comes from Facebook.  Twitter is in second and gaining ground quickly. Twitter will soon be number one because of the ability to direct message a player with a note that is short and simple.  Evan Daniels, a national basketball recruiting analyst, says, “If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter, you may be a step behind.”

Social media can also stay positive through social media monitoring.  One leader in this market is Varsity Monitor.  Varsity Monitor monitors the activity of student-athletes on social networking websites by looking for key words or inappropriate material on their personal accounts and then reporting that content.  They do social media account monitoring and web monitoring along with sharing social media guidelines and educating their clients.

When and if an athlete posts something inappropriate both the administrators and coaches will be notified by the compliance office.  There are also notifications sent when 3rd party users mention athletes.  In the past, schools would make fake accounts and send friend requests to secretly find out information.  Not only does this use of monitoring benefit the athlete in college but it prepares them for post-college when they will need to be monitoring their own social media use to land a job.

The work done by Varsity Monitor is going to be something that other colleges will want to utilize in the very near future, as current clients like the University of North Carolina, University of Nebraska, University of Texas, and Villanova can attest.

WHY HAS SOCIAL MEDIA RECRUITING TAKEN OFF?

Recruiting via social media has partly taken off due to the fact that the NCAA barred coaches from text-messaging athletes back in 2007.  The increasing use of social media is symbolic of communication trends for this generation.  Voice mails are considered annoying, e-mails are out-of-date, and phone conversations are just awkward.

Phone calls to recruits are limited to once a month for juniors and twice a week for seniors while Facebook and Twitter communication is unlimited during contact periods.  Many players receive Facebook and Twitter notifications on their cell phones which is similar to receiving a text message, except this is legal.

WHAT ARE RECRUITS AND COACHES SAYING ABOUT THIS NEW TREND?
“Almost every recruit is on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s a good way to get in touch with recruits.”

-Keon Hatcher | Arkansas wide receiver commit

“Social media is a huge part of our culture.  It’s the way most people communicate.”

-Bill O’Brien | Penn State football coach

“It’s not a hassle, where they call you and you have to be on the phone for a long time.  It’s just like a message.  It’s a great way to contact me.”

-Narlens Noel |one of the top five basketball prospects nationally for a junior

“It’s probably the only way to communicate with recruits.”
-Dana Holgorsen | West Virginia football coach

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Google + Hangouts in Sports

Post by @tscheine. Ty is a Social Media Executive at Brafton where he manages social media strategies for their clients.

With Google Plus being relatively new and people still beginning to come on board; there are many advantages this platform can hold for sport organizations and universities. There really is no true ‘best practice’ guide yet to Google Plus and given that users are still testing the waters, allows for teams and organizations to be innovators and get a jump-start on this outlet that not everyone is active on.

Only a few weeks ago the Super Bowl Champions New York Giants hosted a Hangout on Google Plus. There was a two-week downtime of no football being played and this was a fantastic way to keep the fans interested and engaged. In the hour-long session fans were able to meet their favorite players, ask them questions and ‘hangout’ for an hour. Not only did this help increase the number of followers on Google Plus, it created incentive for fans to follow players giving fans an exclusive experience that the average fan can’t experience.

More teams need to take advantage of this new platform, especially the Hangouts. This is a great platform teams can use to hold their own press conferences to announce team news, signings, upcoming team events, promotions etc. It can be an exclusive place for fans to go for the latest information. The Hangouts differentiate themselves from Facebook and Twitter because it offers new content through a different medium; video.

Being able to visually and verbally interact with athletes from the comfort of your home is a great way to have a personal feel fans can’t get by watching from their home or in a stadium with thousands of other fans.

‘Hangouts’ are not just a space for athletes to engage the public. It would be beneficial to see executives and coaches from the teams to utilizing the Hangouts. It is an opportunity for coaches and the front office to interact with fans, give insight into why they made certain moves, discuss relevant team information and allow for there to be a two way conversation between the team and fans which will prove very beneficial to retaining fans in the long run.

Finally, Hangouts would be an awesome way for fans to engage with each other.  Teams have their local sports talk shows that you can tune into and listen, but what about being part of that talk show? This would be a fantastic opportunity for Hangouts to be a place where you have local analysts and fans discuss, argue and debate the latest news regarding their teams. With Google Plus recently hitting the 10 million users mark, I think it is only a matter of time until sport organizations utilize the network and it’s Hangouts to full potential.

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Professional Sports Teams and their Players

Post by @Caleb_Mezzy/Caleb Mezzy

If you are a professional sports team, you have something that every corporation, company, brand would love to have. What that is, Social Media speaking, is established brand extensions.

Every brand on Twitter, for example, would love to have brand ambassadors. This is exactly why some professional teams and corporations have implemented this in their Social Media strategy. Only difference is companies won’t have the luxury (mostly) of having brand ambassadors with thousands of followers. Well, if you are a pro sports team, you have your “players” and those players have just that!

All of that should make sense to you, but now, let’s say you have a favorite team and you aren’t sure which players are on Twitter from that team OR you are new to a city and want to get the buzz on the new team while learning more about their players….that’s when you should do something along the lines of what the New York Giants and Duke Basketball did.

If you don’t do something as attractive, you could at least provide us with your team lists on Twitter. Below is a detailed breakdown of each league (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA) and the teams that DO have team lists and others that DO NOT.

As you can see, the NBA has done the best job of this with only 9 teams not having any list. MLB has 20 teams, the NHL with 19…both out of 30 and the NFL only has half their teams with lists. These lists contain the current rosters of players who are active tweeters.

Why not build a list for your fans? Your players serve as your “brand extensions” on Twitter. 

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Future of Location Based Services in Sport

Post by @tscheine. Ty is a Social Media Executive at Brafton where he manages social media strategies for their clients.

I read an article earlier this week that states mobile spending is going to increase over 50% in 2012. Given this statistic, it is safe to say that Location Based Services (LBS) will have an even greater impact in sports this year.

In the beginning, fans were not being rewarded for ‘checking in’ to stadiums or venues. At its core LBS was used as a way to let your Facebook friends or Twitter followers know where you were, what you were doing and who you were with. How long could this last and how could organizations capitalize on this opportunity?

The key is to offer incentives for utilizing these mobile apps by rewarding the fan with some discount that can either be used on-site or at a later time. These incentives build great rapport with your fan base that they will in turn share with their friends, family and social networks.

The roadblock teams may find with this approach are the lack of people who use LBS either because they don’t see the benefits, mobile networks aren’t reliable or are scared of the privacy issues. Fortunately, a study done by Coyle Media Inc., found that sports fans embrace LBS more than the average mobile user. Hence, teams need to take advantage of the revenue, fan engagement and visibility that LBS can offer.

For example, big events such as the Super Bowl would be a perfect venue to take advantage of geosocial services. There is an abundance of mini events that take place leading up to and on game day, where fans can ‘check-in’ to certain fan activities such as the Super Bowl Village, or the NFL Experience. There is plenty of traffic and money being spent allowing teams and leagues to partner with their sponsors and integrate with different LBS platforms to offer users rewards, discounts, coupons, and different prizes that they can earn by ‘checking-in’ into these events.  Creating the first ever Social Media command center in Indianapolis is a great step in encouraging the use of location-based services.

Overall, I believe we just scratched the service with mobile apps and LBS in 2011. Look for teams and leagues to begin to incorporate mobile and LBS into a majority of their marketing efforts to interact with fans, increase revenue and illustrate their online presence in a positive way.

The #SuperBowl of #Hashtags

by @Caleb_Mezzy/Caleb Mezzy

So…we just watched another Super Bowl. This one ignited more Social Media involvement than others before it. Why? Well…Social Media is here to stay. Let’s see which brands were involved in hashtag usage during #SB46.

#MakeItPlatinum (Bud Light)

#SoLongVampires (Audi)

#BetterWay (Best Buy)

#whatworks (GE)

#beckhamforhm (H&M)

#JerrysNSX (Acura)

As a brand, it’s great to use hashtags. Now if you are a brand using a hashtag, make sure you were listening, engaging, interacting with those who were using that hashtag. Without doing this, you failed in using a hashtag.

Next year should be a chance for us to see more hashtag usage. Where do you expect to see proper use of hashtags next?

#SBHashtags

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Vote for me in the Xfinity Social Media Job Contest!

I’m currently a finalist in the Xfinity Social Media Job Contest and your votes could help me land my dream job!

The winner receives a full-time position covering sports for Xfinity via social media and serving as a social media ambassador for the Xfinity Sports brand. The contest runs until February 19 and the top five contestants with the most votes advance to the semi-finals. I need as many votes as I can get.

Here’s the direct link where you can vote (once per day) for me: http://t.co/XZQQaD5S

(If the direct link doesn’t work, just sort by total views and look for Brendan W., that’s me)

Thank you for your support!

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NBA Case Study: Golden State Warriors #DubtheVote

The following is a post from contributor Peter Robert Casey which originally appeared on his DigitalHoopsBlast.com site. Peter is covering all 30 NBA teams in an ongoing series on the same site. This post has been reprinted here with his permission.

The All Star Game has always been a celebration of fans – no matter what sport you are referencing.  Voting for All Stars has changed quite a bit through technology.   It doesn’t seem too long ago that voting was done solely through those punch cards in arena, does it?  Now that it has expanded to voting through the internet, participation and engagement opened up enormously.  All that adds up to a big opportunity for teams to transform this engagement into an experience for their fans.  The Golden State Warriors showed us how can a team get behind their players and activate a fan base.

The Warriors challenged the notion that simply voting for players defines you as the ultimate fan.  No, voting itself is only an entry point to proving your passion (and being rewarded for doing so).  As you’ll see below (or by clicking here), the resulting campaign has fans getting creative to win a can’t buy experience… while also voting for Warriors stars Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, and David Lee.

The idea is to simply Dub the Vote. Vote for the Warriors via a mobile device while making a “W”.  Submit a photo and the 3 most creative win.  Prizes include an autographed shirt, an autographed ball, and a chance to meet Curry, Ellis, and Lee!

The Warriors created a video (shown below) that explains the process.  This video was shared on Facebook, Twitter, and of course YouTube — plus embedded into their website.

But digital isn’t enough to get fans involved.

The Warriors brought a lucky fan down to the court during a game to #DubTheVote in arena.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea because it both gives a cool experience to a couple of fans by heroing them and it creates awareness for the campaign to everyone in arena.  This is a key point because it doesn’t take for granted that fans are aware of this campaign!

Thanks to Golden State for a fantastic example of taking the idea of voting and making it not just about the players but also about the fans!

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Behind the Scenes: the Under Armour Ultimate Intern Project

My name is Kevin Gottlieb (@KevinJGottlieb) and I am a senior Business Administration major at Furman University. I am also a left-handed relief pitcher for the Furman Paladins. In 2011, I was selected to be one of the Under Armour Ultimate Interns.
The Under Armour Ultimate Intern position was a Facebook driven contest for two students to work with the digital media team at Under Armour. The internship consisted of working with the digital marketing team assisting in various aspects of the business with an emphasis on social media engagement. We served as a bridge to the inside world of Under Armour through the world of social media with daily Facebook posts, Tweets, and blog posts about our experiences.
We worked with some of Under Armour’s world class athletes and traveled to many Under Armour events. The events included: the U.S. Open, Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Game, MLB All-Star Game, Great American Shoot-out in Dallas, IMG 7-on-7 Football event, fitness event in Los Angeles, and many other trips all in a span of five weeks. This experience gave me the knowledge and skills in social media that has allowed me to build a strong network and foundation for the start of my career.
The digital search for the Ultimate Interns began by students submitting a 140-character cover letter and resume via Under Armour’s Facebook page. The final 100 candidates were announced about a week later, expanding the 140-character cover letter to 100 words explaining why they should be chosen. From the final 100, ten students were selected to conduct a Skype interview to narrow it down to the two Ultimate Intern winners.

I started using social media as an everyday ritual in order to differentiate myself amongst the 5,000+ students applying for the internship. I posted on Facebook for family and friends to go “Like” the Under Armour Brand Facebook Page and then write on the Under Armour wall that I am the person for the job. By the end of the application period, I had over 100 of my friends, family, teammates, coaches, teachers telling Under Armour to select me for the position. Dan Mecchi (Director of Digital Media) and Colin Clark (Manager of Digital Media) told me during the process that this set me apart from the other students.  When my name kept popping up on the Facebook page they began asking themselves, “Who is this Kevin Gottlieb kid and why is everyone telling us to choose him on the Under Armour Facebook Page?” Many students started doing this as well, but I like to think I took it to the next level with over 100 posts.

It started getting very competitive and intense when the top 100 students were selected. I decided to separate myself even more by trying to get some of the Under Armour Athletes to endorse me on twitter. I was not sure if it would work or not, but tried it anyways. I would say it worked out:

Kevin Gottlieb @KevinJGottlieb20 May
@PhelpsTheFish can I get A retweet… made the finals for the#ultimateintern position for @Under_Armour. Out of 10, 2 students are selected”
Michael Phelps @MichaelPhelps@kevingottlieb35 good luck!!!”

Kevin Gottlieb @KevinJGottlieb21 May
@jenhudak jealous of your great weekend at the Preakness…Can I get a RT, Im in the finals for the @Under_Armour #ultimateintern need help!”
Jen Hudak @jenhudak@kevingottlieb35 good luck!!”

I made it through to the Top 10, which lead to a Skype interview with Kevin Wright, the college recruiting coordinator and Colin Clark. It was nerve-racking but extremely fun.  A few days later I saw one of the top 10 finalists say on Facebook that they did not win, then another, then another, then another. I was trying to figure out how they knew, so I checked my email and there was nothing there. A few seconds later, my phone rang and it was the Digital Media team telling me that I was one of the winners of the Ultimate Intern competition. The other winner was Christa Bagley, who was a cheerleader at Georgia Tech.  Throughout the five week internship, Christa and I shared our internship experience through the twitter handle @UAInternTeam.

The internship was an amazing experience. As a college baseball player and life-long baseball fan, my favorite part of the internship was traveling to Phoenix for the MLB All-Star Weekend. Colin had worked for the Chicago Cubs before coming to Under Armour so he knew a ton of baseball executives from around the league as well as from MLB Advanced Media. It was an incredible networking event for Christa and me. On top of working the Under Armour Fan-fest event in the morning, we attended the Futures Game, Homerun Derby, MLB All-star Game, pregame networking events, and post-game concert events. I was able to meet Under Armour All-Star’s Brandon Phillips, Jair Jurrjens, and Jose Reyes as well as Bryce Harper. To say the least, it was one of the best weeks of my life.

To give you an idea of the headquarters behind the powerful Under Armour brand, there is a dynamic, young, fun, fast-paced, and full of energy feel in the air. One thing that really stuck out to me was the company’s culture and overall love and passion for the Under Armour brand and products. The top-notch Combine Training Center, Humble and Hungry Café, and half-court basketball court were the employee’s favorite spots within the building.

To get more of a detailed outline of the day-to-day life, you can check out my Tumblr page where I wrote about my experience at kevingottlieb35.tumblr.com. For those of you interested, the Ultimate Intern 2.0 competition launched February 1st  on the Under Armour Facebook Page. If you are a college student and love sports, this is the greatest opportunity out there for you. Under Armour revamped the program to include a team of five ultimate interns. This team will consist of an intern representing Social Media, Writing, Film Production, Graphic Design, and Brand Marketing. Keep a look out if you are interested in applying.

Taking the Field

Welcome to the Field!

We’re Caleb Mezzy and Brendan Wilhide. We’re launching this site because we see a vacancy within the blogosphere for a true, team written sports and social media centric blog. (There are a number of fantastic single author blogs out there, by the way.) Our hope is that this blog will provide a fresh take on what it means to use social media in the sports industry.

Caleb recently launched TweetStarGame.com, which tracks the most popular athletes on Twitter through a partnership with Klout. Caleb handles social media for Julian Krinsky Camps and Programs and also hosts the weekly #SMSportsChat on Twitter. He also works as a social media consultant for Philadelphia 76ers broadcaster Marc Zumoff and Detroit Tigers pitcher Collin Balester.

Brendan founded Sportsin140.com in 2009 as a means of validating athletes and teams on Twitter. His work doing so, which began months before Twitter began its own validation service, was featured on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” in the Wall Street Journal and on the Sports Illustrated website. Brendan recently finished co-authoring “Sports Marketing in Social Media, a textbook about social media due to be published later this year. He also works as a social media coordinator and copywriter in a consulting capacity.

Together we’ve tapped our network of colleagues and contacts to launch this site with a great group of contributors. We look forward to bringing you the latest news and observations on social media use in the sports industry. If you have any ideas, questions or would like to contribute to the site, please contact us either here or on Twitter.