Many experts in the industry feel that the real brand value of college athletics is still to come. From new television deals to the playoff system to schools taking control of their marketing rights and merchandising their assets, the future is bright for brands who want to go back to school to find new ways to engage to a loyal audience in a young demo. So as college football kicks into gear this weekend, here’s a look at a few smart deas that have come across the transom.
Zipping Open The Social Media Envelope: The University of Akron may not be championship caliber, but they will look to give their MAC fans some fun on the digital side when they get things started. The Zips will play host to its inaugural Social Media Night vs. Central Florida at InfoCision Stadium – Summa Field. Five randomly selected fans who buy a ticket through a special Facebook promotion will become eligible for media credentials and will then be asked to engaged social media channels from the press level of InfoCision Stadium. Additionally, invited members of the University student body will participate in the behind-the-scenes media experience, and those who cover the Zips for non-traditional media outlets will also have an opportunity to be involved. The group of correspondents will be provided access to the field during pregame warm ups and the postgame press conference with Coach Bowden. Twitter and Facebook content will be integrated with the traditional stadium gameday experience and fans will be asked to use the hashtag #ZipsGameday when tweeting about the game.
The social media theme will extend to “Hoppy Hour”, a pre-game professional networking event to be held prior to the game outside of the stadium. The Aug. 30 event will also be the first stop on the Mid-American Conference’s Football Social Media Road Tour, with a select number of fan correspondents covering via social media a game involving at least one league team each week throughout the season. A smart, inexpensive way to test the waters and grant access to those who can becme brand ambassadors for the school.
USC Gives A Handle: Lane Kiffin’s USC Trojans are starting the year number one, but that doesn’t men they don’t understand how much they have to do to embrace the media just a bit more. So USC has decided to list players twitter handles on their depth charts given out to media. While it doesn’t go so far as to put a hash tag on the Rose Bowl sidelines, it is another step toward making social media just that much more of a traditional media source for those covering the team. It’s not for everyone, but for those who are using twitter, its a nice touch.
Pitt Goes Outdoors: While the idea and the cost of staging hockey and hoops outdoors may have lost its mojo, the University of Pittsburgh found a way to take the beginning of hoops season to another level. On Wednesday, Pitt announced it will move “Midnight Madness” to the streets, bringing a wooden floor, portable bleachers and a video board near the Pitt Union. The event is being held during the football homecoming weekend — Pitt plays Louisville the next day at Heinz Field — and is being marketed as part of the school’s 225-year anniversary celebration. A fireworks show will be held at 9:15 p.m. with the men’s and women’s practices to follow. Is there risk with weather in October? Sure. But by thinking outside, literally, the Panthers found a way to make a first practice just that much more special, get a little buzz and probably found a sponsorable event where there wasn’t much of one before. Great making of chicken salad by the Big East school.
Pac 12 Continues To Grab Digital Benefits: Last week the Pac 12 unveiled their new network, this week it is all about digital. The Conference has launched an iPad app that will let college sports fans follow all their favorite teams wherever they are. The whole thing was made possible because 18 months ago, the conference decided to consolidate all of its media rights, and launch its own sports networks for fans of its teams.
The Pac-12 iPad app will provide users access to all the same content as the website, and will include personalization features to let users decide which universities and which sports are most important to them. That includes an interactive programming guide that will show content tailored to them, as well as highlighting events that are live and those which are trending. By connecting with Facebook and Twitter, fans will be able to see what their friends are saying while watching live matchups. All 850 different Pac-12 events across all sports will be available on the web and on the iPad app. It is a very progressive move for a conference steeped in Silicon Valley with tech savvy followers who will engage more and more online, with the traditional broadcast outlet still there for the taking.
So with all those pieces in place, and more fun to follow, let’s follow some college football.