Committing to Content: How to leverage social to connect with student-athletes

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It’s not enough for an athletic department to send a few tweets from the team account and call it a day.

At any one time, a program’s coaches, student-athletes, commits, alumni and team account should share a unique but unified message aimed at attracting recruits. This keeps the athletic ecosystem flourishing.

In this webinar, Twitter Sports Partner Manager David Herman, Facebook Head of Sports Partnerships Vincent Pannozzo, Grassroots & Athlete Marketing Expert Zach Soskin and opendorse Founder and CEO Blake Lawrence join FOS CEO Adam White to discuss how college athletic departments are able to build a stronger brand and stronger relationships with student-athletes through social media.

Edited highlights appear below:

On how collegiate student-athletes are recruited in the modern era (3:52)

Lawrence: “My brother is a tight end, a former three-star prospect out of Kansas City. He ended up with nineteen Division I scholarship offers and by the end of it had over 190 different coaches from DI programs follow him. Every single one of those offers started with a direct message on Twitter. I think that gives you an idea of the importance of, for a high school athlete looking to get recruited, leveraging social to connect with coaches. But also for coaches, just to stand out because [my brother] was getting direct messages every single day from dozens of different coaches. His feed was just full of schools trying to capture his attention. “

READ MORE: The MLBPA Has Embraced Athlete-Driven Marketing

What are ways to resonate with recruits? (20:19)

Herman: “One thing to keep in mind is that every user base is different. What’s going to work for one account isn’t necessarily going to work for another. What works for Ohio State might not work for Clemson and vice versa. I think Ohio State does a great job across platforms of having content really fit each platform in each media. They really have taken advantage of our short form video and when you’re scrolling the timeline, you really need that video to have something that makes you stop and look. I think Ohio State really does a great job of grabbing that attention with a short form video, but also really strong motion graphics and visuals. “

READ MORE: NFL All-Pro Gerald McCoy Highlights His Passions Through Giving Back and Partnerships

On utilizing social to connect with alumni playing professionally and vice versa (46:01)

Pannozzo: “[For pro athletes], that college fan base is going to be your fan for life. Once you get to the pros, you might be on a team for 10 years, maybe on a team for one year. So if you bounce around from team-to-team, those followers may come and go. But your college fan base is going to be sticking with you probably long after your playing days are done. So it’s never too early to start building your brand while you’re there. And then looking at it the next 40 to 60 years down the line, you can then go back to your college and benefit off that [experience and fan base] for longer.”

On the importance of premium content on social channels (49:08)

Soskin: “Premium doesn’t need to be defined as ‘shot on the best camera’ or ‘highly edited’. Premium is what’s right for that channel. So something that goes on the athlete channel doesn’t need to be shot on an [expensive camera]…people get so caught up with that…Premium is effective and that’s what matters most. If it’s going on the student athletes’ channel, honestly, if it can be iPhone quality, it’s better. Look at overtime. Overtime has built a massive business on iPhone shooters. It’s incredible. Authenticity is the key in something that’s right for that consumer, for that audience should be way more important than [content being] overly produced.”

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