• Loading stock data...
Saturday, March 2, 2024

How Schools Owned The Early Signing Period On Social Media

From strategy to execution, social media professionals across the country pulled out all the stops.

College football programs highlighted their new players with some fire content. (image via @ut_creative on Twitter)

2017 brought a significant change to the college football recruiting world with the addition of the early signing period. Now instead of waiting until February to announce the latest crop of players to join the program, NCAA teams were able to officially sign high school seniors starting on December 20th.

With fans excited to learn what new faces they will be cheering for in the next few years, many athletic departments were ready with some unique and striking social media content. Furthermore, a good social media team can become a recruiting tool on its own.

“NSD was a great example of how the bar is still being raised constantly. You can see each team trying to out do one another”, states Joe Centeno, art director of Team Infographics. “I think it’s great for the teams to be competing on social just as much as they do on the field. It is not so far fetched anymore to see some top level recruits making their decisions based on how well teams will cover their careers while on campus. It’s another exciting step in the social/digital space.”

“It also puts it out there, front and center, just how important helping these student athletes start (or continue) to build their personal brands has become.”

Highlighting who your players are and what they are able to do helps the student-athletes to grow their personal brand, which will only help them succeed at the next level. This is true even if they do not move on to play professionally.

Regardless, signing days can be a huge way to boost social engagement for college football programs. Many teams capitalized and showed their social prowess, standing out in the conversation. Here’s how they were able to do that.

Content is Still King

New student-athletes were welcomed with some stellar edits from designers around college athletics. Fresh and striking designs are a great to give recruits something physical to make it feel real that they’ve reached the next level of their sport.

Valerie Parks, Assistant Director of Creative Services at Tennessee, tells us how the Vols accomplished this.

“Our primary goal with our signing day graphics this year was to come up with a look that would stand out. By standing out, our newest Vols would get the attention they deserve. Being a program rooted deep in traditions, we landed on a vintage look with a modern touch. We hoped it would be eye catching enough to our audience but still maintain our traditional Tennessee brand.”

Great design won the day on Instagram as well. Syracuse turned in some beautiful work in the form of a kind of trading card look that played out in multiple graphics.

Utilizing Instagram’s capability to post photo sets that users can swipe through, graphic designer/recruiting assistant Seth Reedy created a unique finished product.

“I wanted to mix it up from the traditional NSD stand along graphic, and provide one larger, more encompassing design. The idea would be four stand-alone photos that could be tied back into one larger view. I also wanted to keep it light and refreshing, while hitting some cool elements that I have not seen used a lot. The idea of using a quote from the student athlete themselves was to introduce them to our fans on a more personal level, and attaching the coach quote allowed the fans an inside perspective as to what our coaches are thinking on the recruiting trail.

The design layout also allowed us to have a clean home page on Instagram, which is something I wanted to capture when I first started brainstorming the design.”

Some take it a step further and integrate some simple motion, or a transition into a video. Purdue’s team took this approach with unique animations and videos. Ashley McCaffrey, Purdue football’s graphic designer, told us a bit more about how these animations came to be with a mix of some craft supplies,clever photography, and stellar design ability.

“When looking into different types of mixed media, I found some really awesome art that was made from different types of paper, and from there I made the decision that I wanted to use that medium and make 3-d national signing day graphics. After numerous trips to craft stores I had quite the collection of gold, silver, black and white paper of different shades and textures.

I then took the concept and brainstormed with Purdue’s motion designer, Matt Tornquist. We came up with a basic concept for what elements we wanted to include and a general idea of what we wanted the final piece to look like. From there, the paper cutting (and a little spray painting) began! We wanted to include several elements linked to Purdue tradition including our bell tower on campus, engineering fountain, and astronauts/going to the moon (Neil Armstrong).

After those were all finished, Matt and our photographer, Charles Jischke, helped me light (the shadows were important to making it look real) and photograph the paper elements and the layout of our four main parts/slides for our final motion graphic.”

Don’t underestimate how the talent of your designers adds equity to your program’s brand.

Athletes Are Brands Too

Part of welcoming new student-athletes into your program should be telling people where they can be found on social media. This allows them to get a jump on growing their own personal brand, which (when they handle the attention the right way) helps grow the program’s brand in turn.

Plenty of programs will tag the handles of the student-athletes in posts that feature them, as they should. But posts that specifically highlight where to find these athletes and encouraging athletes to follow them are a smart little way to show future recruits that your program cares about helping them grow their brand.

Treat It Like The Event It Is

Signing with their dream school should be one of the biggest days in the young lives of your recruits. Treat it like it.

Notre Dame pulled out all the stops covering their new recruits with a live broadcast on Periscope. The show was complete with interviews with coaches and players, the signees’ highlight tapes, and a look inside the signing day “war room”.

“Over the past few years we have tested a variety of ways to catch the attention of our fan base during big events like signing day”, states Aaron Horvath: Notre Dame’s Assistant Athletic Director of Strategic Communications.

“Our information tells us that saturating the market with ‘live programming’ on as many vehicles (Facebook, Twitter, main web video player) as possible helps raise the exposure of the event and in turn increases VOD and total impressions of our content. Overall, It takes a large team to ideate, create, execute and post the hours of content from our talented Fighting Irish Media team.”

You can see the archived segments of the show on their YouTube channel. Taking this approach was a nice, complete way to showcase the recruits and celebrate the day with the gravitas it deserved.

Who did we miss? Which programs crushed the early signing period on social in your opinion?

Let us know on Twitter @frntofficesport!

*Team Infographics is a proud partner of Front Office Sports

Front Office Sports is a leading multi-platform publication and industry resource that covers the intersection of business and sports.

Want to learn more, or have a story featured about you or your organization? Contact us today.


Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read


How Daily Fantasy Sports Solved NBA Fantasy

New Horizons in Sports How Daily Fantasy Sports Solved NBA Fantasy Presented…
Aug 15, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Chain crew members walk on the field prior to the game between the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

Football Is Finally Getting With the Times, Technologically Speaking

Helmet communications in college and first-down technology in NFL could be coming.
Nov 25, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; UCLA Bruins head coach Chip Kelly reacts after the game against the California Golden Bears at Rose Bowl.

Coaches Hate the Transfer Portal. But Their Coaching Carousel Is Making the Problem Worse

Thirty head football coaches have left or were fired from their positions.
Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Pat McAfee (left), Lee Corso (center) and Kirk Herbstreit on the ESPN College Gameday set at the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl.

New Streaming Bundle Could Take ‘Edge’ Off the ESPN-Fox College Sports Rivalry

The marriage of rivals could create a new dynamic in college sports.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Jenny Cavnar is Breaking Barriers During Oakland’s Strange Season


Featured Today

Sheer Madness: What You Need to Know About MLB’s New Uniform Saga

MLB’s reworked uniforms have become a major source of spring training controversy.
Oct 5, 2021; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Bob Kendrick, president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, points to the lettering outside of the museum Tuesday.
February 28, 2024

How Do You Keep Negro Leagues Baseball History Alive? Put It in a Video Game

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum attracting increased donations, visits from ‘MLB The Show.’
February 26, 2024

The Victor Wembanyama Rookie Card Market Hasn’t Matched His Hype

A cooling market and Fanatics autograph deal leaves big-money collectors waiting.
February 25, 2024

Sham Gods: The Rapidly Growing World of Sports Impersonators on X

Fake Schefters and Wojs, fabricated trade demands, and borrowed profile pictures.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers

Tuned In: Inside Fox’s Plans for Covering Caitlin Clark’s Regular-Season Finale

The Iowa star’s biggest game to date won’t be buried on any streamer.
Caitlin Clark
February 29, 2024

Iowa Star Caitlin Clark Makes It Official: She’s WNBA-Bound

Iowa star Caitlin Clark announced she is declaring for the WNBA draft.
March 1, 2024

Why New Pac-12 Commissioner Teresa Gould Deserved Better

The first female Power 5 commissioner will inherit her predecessors’ mess.

How LivePass is Redefining Ticketing for the Next Generation of Fans

The next wave of ticketing technology.
Washington State
February 29, 2024

Washington State Cuts Football Coaches’ Salaries Up to 10%

The Pac-2 football team has an athletic department deficit near $100 million.
Howard University
February 29, 2024

Howard’s Figure Skating Team Part of Olympic Sport Growth at HBCUs

Olympic sports at HBCUs are growing, with gymnastics and swimming gaining momentum.
February 28, 2024

The George Kliavkoff Era in the Pac-12 Comes to an End

Kliavkoff presided over the 108-year-old conference’s demise.
February 27, 2024

From Tailgates to Scholarships: Winthrop Elevates Cornhole to Collegiate Status

The Rock Hill, S.C., school signed two high school players out of the Denver area to scholarships.