Digital Teams To Watch In The 2018 NCAA Baseball Tournament

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Digital teams across the country will be bringing the fire. (Image via LSU Baseball)

This week, 64 teams begin their road to Omaha, Nebraska for the College World Series. Just as the teams on the field will be leaving it all out there for a shot at glory, the digital and social media teams at their respective schools will be working overtime to put out great content.

“Once postseason rolls around everything is elevated including the work being done on social,” states Joe Centeno of Team Infographics (TI). “In addition to following our teams as they advance in the tournament, we are always keeping an eye out for great content teams have been working on for the big stage.”

As regional play begins this weekend, keep an eye on the Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts of these schools in particular who have been particularly impressive to us in bringing their best to the digital space during the 2018 season.

LSU

Alissa Cavaretta, LSU communications graduate assistant, has been running the baseball program’s social media for close to four years. Since she started, the Tigers have become the most followed college baseball team in America on Facebook and Twitter. The Tigers also recently reached 100,000 followers on Instagram, becoming the first college baseball program to do so.

“Our big goal this year has been to increase our overall fan interactions on social media. So we’ve asked more questions and tried to get more involvement from the fans and people online.”

Simple things like asking fans which regional they thought the Tigers would be placed in or encouraging fans to chat with a given player for a day in Instagram messages have helped Cavaretta establish a more personal connection with the program’s audience, which has helped lead to the growth of the audience as a whole.

In terms of in-game content, LSU has some great photographers that are able to quickly send photos up to Cavaretta. Understanding that immediacy has also been a big reason why the team’s accounts have grown so much.

“One of the big things that a lot of schools don’t have access to is that we get our pictures live. Most schools have to wait and have people meet up back in a media workroom and grab pictures off an SD card. With us, if someone hits a home run or makes a big play, I hit refresh and two seconds later I have a picture. It’s incredibly convenient”

Keep an eye out for how Cavaretta and company are able to grow the Tigers’ audience even more as they play in the Corvallis regional on this weekend.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs of Mississippi State make their 37th NCAA Tournament appearance this year, despite a slow start to their season. But from the confidence this team exudes on the field and on social, you wouldn’t know that slow start even happened.

MSU assistant director for communications Andrew Piper is more often than not the man behind the laptop/phone for @HailStateBB.

“A big approach of mine is to operate the accounts as a window into the program for fans, recruits, and student-athletes. People get to see the team chartering flights, and getting all their adidas gear, and just enjoying being around each other. I tell the coaches that I work with that [social media] is a great free marketing tool to show what we’re about and what we have to offer, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m running those accounts.”

Utilizing things like player takeovers on Instagram stories, the team’s accounts have a splash of personality that feels very organic and refreshing that high-level recruits love. Need proof? Eight different players from MSU’s 2012 team are currently in the major leagues. But in order for that message to really hit, Piper’s work doesn’t end when the season does.

“No matter when our season ends, I’m still going to be trying to do things to keep us relevant. Whether it’s sharing videos of former players doing things to keep our program in the loop, or whatever it may be. We may not win the College World Series, we may not go to Omaha, but we still want to be in the conversation.”

Stetson

For the first time in over 45 years playing at the D1 level, the Stetson Hatters will play host to a regional at their home in Deland, Florida. As most smaller athletic departments do, the Hatters’ marketing and communications team hopes to take advantage of the spotlight the team has created for the university.

“We’re pretty close to a sellout for the regional, which is a huge positive for the university,” said Stetson associate athletic director for communications Ricky Hazel. “Going forward, the goal is to continue the engagement, continue the storyline, and make sure people know that Stetson baseball is for real.”

In terms of on-field talent, Stetson has the makings of a 2016 Coastal Carolina: a team that surprised most fans by winning the national championship that season. In terms of marketing and communications, Hazel and the Hatters’ three-person communications department is making do quite well with their own underdog scenario when it comes to resources and following the NCAA’s guidelines in regards to live photos and video during tournament play.

“We’ve got to use the old-fashioned written word to capture fans’ interest on top of graphics. I chuckle when you mention social media teams because we really don’t have one. We do utilize Box Out Sports for some graphics and we’ll continue to do so. But really there’s just three of us in communications and we handle video, social, graphic design…the whole package.”

Oregon State

Continually one of the front-runners in terms of digital innovation, the Oregon State ideation team has once again put out some of the best content in college athletics this baseball season. Utilizing everything from attention-grabbing static graphics to 360 video, the Beavers stand out on the web and on the field.

“The goal is to be fun, entertaining, and informational all at once for our great fan base,” assistant athletic director of athletic communications Hank Hager says.

Hager also mentioned that the Beavs’ utilizing new and trendy technologies comes from him and the ideation team working closely together, staying on top of the social space, and being willing to try new things.

“We may try something once and it may not go anywhere. So we pull back after a weekend and determine what was successful and what wasn’t. So part of it is just trial and error.”

Personally, one of the things I love most about Oregon State’s social presence is the way that each piece of media is consistent with the branding they’ve laid for themselves, but still manages to feel completely unique in some way. That comes as the result of OSU continually finding and utilizing some of the top talent in the digital and social space like designer Keith Warner. For all the aspiring graphic designers out there, keep an eye on their work during the Corvallis regional and get inspired.

Duke

If you follow any of the Blue Devils’ sports accounts on Twitter or Instagram, then you know the entire department makes stellar use of their video resources. The baseball program is no exception. For that sport, some of the cleanest and most striking content in the sport comes from Blue Devil Network Video Assistant Brittany Del Barba and Associate Sports Information Director Ashley Wolf.

“When looking at our engagement, our followers responded much more when we used images and videos of the guys without graphic templates or a ton of crazy editing,” Wolf said. “Sports social media seemed to be super heavy with graphics (which definitely have a time and place), but we wanted to highlight the players. Let our followers get to know them. See what it’s like to be on the bus, in the dugout, on the field with them.”

“Sports can get pretty heavy with stats and analytics. The goal was to focus on the people, especially the guys, and to highlight their personalities.”

Look for the Blue Devils to show off those personalities, as well as their skills, in the Athens regional over the weekend.

Know of another school or team account that has been putting out some impressive content? Let us know on Twitter @frntofficesport.