Utah Football Looks to Continue Success on Social Media

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Utah Football Social Media

*Team Infographics is a proud Partner of Front Office Sports

When University of Utah football Creative Director Madison Hansen joined the program in 2014, the team’s official Twitter account had about 11,500 followers. Nowadays, the account has grown organically to over 134,000 fans, thanks to a strong content strategy established by Hansen and the efforts of videographer Cramer England and graphic designer J.T. Cattelan.

A native of Salt Lake City and a graduate of Utah, Hansen jumped at the chance to join the staff at her alma mater four years ago — and has embraced every day since.

“I was working for a digital marketing firm in Salt Lake and happened to come across a posting for a job as the social media coordinator,” Hansen recalls. “Changes throughout the years have bumped me up into this director position, and it’s a dream job. I love it so much. I have always loved Utah football, so being in this position has been a pretty incredible experience.”

This week, the Utes start fall camp preceding their 125th football season, kicking off a bevy of creative executions for Hansen and the content team.

“What we like to do for fall camp,” Hansen explains, “is really show a player’s perspective and what they go through.”

Some of the content you’ll see coming out of the team’s social channels during this time include player takeovers, a countdown to the Week One matchup with Weber State, and a video series called “Real Talk with Reggie,” featuring former standout Utah kick returner Reggie Dunn, who is now a member of the Utes’ recruiting staff.

When the season rolls around, the Utes will get a big helping hand from Team Infographics, which makes churning out quality in-game content — such as score updates and Player of the Game posts — easy for a three-person team.

“Team Infographics takes a huge, huge load off of our backs,” Hansen testifies, “just because not only are we doing all of the public-facing/fan/social content for Utah, but we’re also doing a pretty crazy amount of behind-the-scenes recruiting content. So, our plates are full. Anything that can help alleviate a little bit of stress is key considering how much we have going on.”

Team Infographics works with the Utah football program to build content and templates that match the digital aesthetic that the Utes have created for themselves over the years. Cattelan explains that the Utes’ current look came to fruition with the help of members of what might be college football’s most important demographic: recruits.

“We did a focus group with recent recruits about what things they like about Utah football and what really took them off guard when they first visited,” the graphic designer said. “Overwhelmingly, they responded that the mountains were unlike anything they have seen, and how they still couldn’t get over them. So, with our brand, I have tried to encapsulate that feeling of awe with the mountains as much as possible. I really try to feature incorporate mountains and that sense of wonder that you feel the first time you see the jagged mountains rising so far above you.”

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The state’s scenic beauty remains a big part of what helps the designer and the creative team accomplish their goals.

“Every team has a stadium and field, but very few have natural scenery like what we are surrounded by,” Cattelan said. “While not every project I do has mountains in it, it has become a staple of mine for projects, especially ones that will be viewed by a recruit. Even when my work doesn’t feature the mountains, my goal is to deliver that shock factor when you first see something unexpected.”

That eye for detail is a big reason why Utah football has been featured each of the last three seasons in Athlon Sports’ Top Ten Best College Football Accounts to Follow. This, combined with the account’s overall follower growth, is a great point of pride for Hansen and her team.

“I’m really proud of our department’s growth and how we continue to improve. I feel like we keep getting better and that I’m pretty proud of, especially with a small team.”

That growth and improvement started with Hansen implementing a more strategic and measured focus from the start of her tenure with the black and red.

“I remember when I started, my boss at the time kind of asked me to evaluate what other programs were doing well on social and what we could put into place that would help us make a jump. Something I value in social media is real-time content, especially on Twitter, and I noticed that a lot of schools weren’t really doing that at the time.”

The Utes took that opportunity to emphasize not just good content, but time-sensitive content like posting game photos during the games and behind the scenes videos.

“We started doing things like taking live videos at fall camp which was unique early on in 2014-15. We wanted to give a real insider’s perspective with things like standing in the huddle before the game starts and seeing what the boys are seeing to get themselves pumped up. No one was really doing any of that. I think that that sort of helped us with our initial growth and then over the past couple years we’ve been doing our very best to kind of stay ahead of the curve.”

Utah has been able to make use of two concepts that are rather uniques within the college athletics’ space. First, not every Division-I college athletic department allots a creative department specifically to football.

“I think that schools are shifting more towards having specific jobs like mine or a social media specific job for each sport,” Hansen said. “I feel like that’s the kind of the trend that or the direction that this is going in. It’s so funny how that every program I’ve interacted with, their staffs are so different.”

Second, Utah streamlines its recruiting content with other posts into one account, while some programs opt to give their recruiting presence their own account. Hansen credits this decision, ultimately, to similarities in the interests of recruits and the average college football fan.

“I think the majority of fans want to see similar things to what recruits want to see, and I think that it makes it more interesting,” she said. “Especially with our phenomenal fan base. They’re all really intrigued by our recruiting and you who our next good recruit is and all that stuff. So I think it’s an advantage to have it all on one account, then you don’t have to worry as much about consistency across channels.”

Just as the Utah football’s social media became a nationally recognized success by taking the opportunity to excel at the little things, Hansen can attest that achieving success as a sports industry professional includes following a similar path.

“Getting in is the hardest part. So, take any type of small roles you can or unpaid internships, even though they’re hard and not necessarily super rewarding, at the start. Get your foot in the door however you possibly can, and then just work hard until you get to where you want to be.”

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*Team Infographics is a proud Partner of Front Office Sports