The four universities use their influence for community building and keeping their fan bases buzzing.
Making the NCAA Final Four in college basketball is a big deal. We’re talking a big, huge deal; both for the teams and their fans, as well as for the influence of those universities. The evidence is in the Klout Score—the further each team advanced in the NCAA tournament, the more its influence grew. When each team qualified for the Final Four, their Scores spiked.
The University of Kansas, the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville and the Ohio State University men’s basketball teams advanced to the Final Four in New Orleans this past weekend. The social media buzz surrounding each team has flooded news feeds and the fan bases’ thirst for more, more, MORE is unquenchable. Each school’s social media manager has answered these demands by using their heightened levels of influence for showcasing exclusive content and community building.
These four teams are accustomed to social buzz, as they are some of the most historic programs in the NCAA. To see powerhouses like these have their Scores spike so sharply is eye-opening. Klout wanted to see how the teams were handling their rises in influence and if their social media strategies had changed.
Annie Werner runs Kansas basketball’s social media. She said on non-game days the most successful content is pictures and videos of the players and coaches as opposed to user-generated content. The fans flock to this type of content and share it over and over again. In general, the best content, she said, is a final score Facebook update after a victory with a picture attached. Werner’s crowning achievement has to be this picture of Kansas Head Coach Bill Self after Kansas’ close win over Purdue in the NCAA third round.
Werner’s focus this week has been to provide a buffet of original content to hold over the fans until Saturday’s game.
Kentucky is absolutely no stranger to the Final Four, but still, when the team defeated Baylor in the Elite Eight its Klout score grew. Before the tournament started mid-March, Kentucky wanted to engage its users more and add followers and fans. A Final Four run does the work for you. They’ve added thousands of fans on Facebook, and the team’s social media manager, Guy Ramsey, has been working full tilt to keep pace with the demand.
“The appetite is insatiable,” he said. “I just try to get as much content as possible out there.”
Luckily for him, he has unprecedented access to the team, and a behind-the-scenes picture generates buzz for the team like few other updates can. Also a major hit with fans: cutting down the nets.
Darius Miller puts the finishing touches on the net twitter.com/UKAthleticsNew…
— Kentucky Athletics(@UKAthleticsNews) March 25, 2012
Louisville’s social media guru is Brian U’Sellis. He had a unique situation, which most schools would welcome with extremely open arms. On the same day his basketball team advanced to the Final Four and its social media networks lit fire, Louisville swimmer Carlos Almeida won the 200-yard breaststroke NCAA championship. He wanted to make sure Almeida got his proper due, which he did, but it gave rise to possibility of using the Final Four buzz to advertise for other Louisville events. Ultimately, like the other social media managers, U’Sellis didn’t want to muddy this week’s excitement with ads.
“It’s easy to turn this into a business opportunity, but we use social media to keep the fans excited,” U’Sellis said.
U’Sellis’ knew fans wanted all the content they could possibly read, so he launched the #L1C4 campaign, which wound up helping increase the school’s Klout Score. #L1C4 (Louisville First, Cards Forever) invited former players to tweet and share their thoughts about the current team’s tournament run, and then to rile the fan base with more excitement. It, combined with the Final Four achievement, jumped Louisville’s Klout Score 10 points overnight. Good luck trying to match that.
Ohio St. was direct about where they are channeling their higher influence: “One-hundred percent, it’s got to be fun,” said Pat Kindig.
Kindig said the last few days have been a whirlwind as he tries to give fans as much content as possible. He knows people love hearing great things about their team, so when a sports personality like Dick Vitale tweets he thinks Ohio St. will defeat Kansas on Saturday, Kindig will retweet that for the masses.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 26, 2012
Kindig tries to keep Buckeye fans informed, but he said there is nothing more boring than a static tweet about tickets. Yes that information is important, but it can be packaged better; say, with a picture of a player dunking, or fans going wild.
The evidence is clear, with Final Four success comes influence. How a school handles that influence might differ, but keeping the excitement high clearly keeps your Score high, too.