It’s May. The hoops season is over, spring football is done, and you’re beginning to look forward to the end of baseball/softball seasons. Summer break is almost here. For social media managers in college athletics, it’s easy to stay in reactive mode. The industry is kind of built around that mindset. You see what happens on the court or the field, and you react to it. It’s a natural ebb and flow. Staying in that mindset is dangerous though. If you’re always reacting you can never get ahead of the wave. You’ll always be playing catchup, and eventually you’ll be left behind. What do you do when there’s nothing left to react to? What do you say when your “product” is on break and there’s nothing for you to report on?
If you don’t get proactive and begin planning your summer social media content now, you’ll realize in July you’ve missed a crucial opportunity.
How to get proactive.
The first step in setting a proactive strategy for your summer vacation is to answer a few questions about your athletic department and your brand. What is unique about your brand? What sets your program apart from all the others? Answering these questions helps you develop your unique brand promise, which will guide your content development. Often times, the best way to answer these questions is by listening. Lend an ear to your community to find out what your fan base is talking about. What aspects of your promotions got the most response during the season? Understanding what resonates and what doesn’t will help you to develop a strategy that flows with the natural direction of your audience instead of trying to swim upstream.
Reinforcing The Brand
Once you’ve answered those questions in a really specific way, you’ve got your WHY. That’s the hard part. Now, you can go about creating content that reinforces that concept. This time of year is about adding support to a foundation. A foundation that will carry you through the season, and will pay dividends for years to come if executed well. A few years ago, I ran a social media engagement campaign for The University of Kansas. It was called #MyJayhawk, and encouraged fans to participate and share their own unique vision of what the Jayhawk was. Most importantly, this campaign reinforced both visually and metaphorically the most unique aspect of the Kansas brand. It built a foundation of the basics so we could get more specific the rest of the year.
Build and Segment for the Future
Not only do campaigns like this reinforce key brand elements in the minds of your followers, but they can also be used to build real, quantifiable wins during a time of year that is typically devoid of them. By getting your brand and your content back to basics, it’s naturally a great time to recruit new members to your tribe. Use your social campaign to build your email list and other touch points with your fans. Creating ties across multiple platforms strengthens the connection with your fan, and makes it infinitely easier to sell them tickets in the following months. With the proper CRM and database elements in place, you can also work to survey and segment your audience so you have a better understanding of their interests.
If you’ve done this segmentation work, you’ve probably reminded yourself that there are some sports on your campus that are more popular than others. For a school like Kansas, that sport is basketball. So, two summers ago we launched the “One Team. One Chant” campaign to try to shift some of that basketball capital over to other sports. The campaign used images of the Jayhawks, who are most associated with the basketball team in the minds of the fans, playing various sports and preparing for the season. Seeing the mascots in uniforms they were less accustomed to, built a sense of unity and loyalty to the athletic department as a whole, and as a result, we saw increased interest in other sports the following season.
So it’s May. You’ve got four full months until football kicks off. Plenty of time to conceive and execute a proactive campaign that reinforces your brand, builds for the future, and unifies your athletic department. What better way could you spend your Summer vacation?
I hope you enjoyed this post and got some motivation for how to spend your Summer. If you’d like some assistance identifying your unique brand promise, and developing a strategy to coincide, I’m available for freelance campaign development and consultation. Shoot me an email or a tweet, I’d love to discuss. Thanks!