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Kansas Jayhawks – Social Media

Kansas Jayhawks – Social Media

In the summer of 2013, I set out on a mission to give the athletic department at the University of Kansas the best social media presence in the nation. I wanted our content to be top notch, and our engagement numbers to blow everything we’d previously done out of the water. By the summer of 2014, I found that my team had doubled every relevant social media metric year-over-year.

More details? Sure.

In 2013-14 we more than tripled impressions from social media sources, we doubled social media engagement actions and reached twice as many unique fans. Finally, our fan connection count grew from 468k to 921k. An increase of 197%.

That’s all well and good, and the numbers make me happy, but the important question is….how did we do that? Luckily, it’s not rocket science, it’s some pretty basic principles.

Getting Back to Basics:

The summer is an interesting time for a college athletic department. To be blunt, there’s nothing going on. That means you mostly have to develop content out of thin air. To do that I went back to the basics of the brand. Too often as sports communicators, we get lost in the minutiae of wins and losses, statistics and game notes, that we forget to continually reinforce the brand.  For Kansas, the brand consists of two main things, the Jayhawk, and the #RockChalk chant. We took those primary brand elements and asked fans to engage in a conversation with us around these ideas that they hold so dear. By doing this, we reinforced the brand and we started the 2013-14 season with a deeper foothold in the minds of the fans.


My Jayhawk or MyJayhawk.com

Rock Chalk Is

Quality Content:

Before I arrived on campus at Kansas, the quality of our content was not at a level I would be proud of. So, the first thing I did was put in place strict quality guidelines to make sure we were only producing at a level consistent with our brand. The 30+ Kansas Athletics social media accounts were redesigned and renamed to fit brand guidelines, and all digital content was brought under my team’s umbrella.  By using consistent and high-quality standards across the board, fans came to expect and depend on an excellent social product. All of this was done with the idea that quality content trumps everything else.


Corporate social media often times sounds way too dry, or on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, ridiculous and immature. I wanted to set a consistent tone of voice for the brand that toed the line between classy and cocky. I asked all of our social media content creators to picture themselves as our mascot, Big Jay when writing. Big Jay knows he’s got it going on, but he keeps himself from taking it too far. That’s what I wanted from our voice and I think we mostly achieved that.


Big Jay Tweet 1
Big Jay Tweet 2

Community Management:

One of the most important things I learned from my background in social media and e-commerce was the impact that customer service and interaction could have on social media engagement. To show how important this aspect of social media was, I asked one of my team members to focus on this single task. This team member’s sole objective was to engage fans around hashtag use, comments and replies. This dedication to interaction and conversation displayed a desire to connect on behalf of our brand, and in my opinion greatly contributed to our social media success.


Platform Focus: (Instagram)

All the strategy in the world won’t go very far if you’re executing it in the wrong place. Last summer I took a look at the social media landscape and my main takeaway was that Instagram had a great growth opportunity. That and the engagement percentage was off the charts compared to Facebook and Twitter. So, the decision to double-down on Instagram was made and led to some great success as you can see in this Instagram specific recap.

Boiled down to it’s essential elements, this strategy calls for simple, high quality, and consistent conversation in the right places.

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