By: Parth Shah, @shah_parth_
Welcome back to the Social Media Seven! It's a jam-packed edition that takes us from the gridiron to the hardwood to the ice, so let's get this thing started!
1) Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins took on the Capitals this week in a highly anticipated rivalry night matchup that pitted two of the NHL's strongest teams against each other. Pittsburgh's social media team had some fun chiming in on the rivalry off the ice, taking a shot at the Capitals raising a banner for winning their division last season, whereas the Penguins raised their own for their Stanley Cup championship. The simple graphic of two banner images stitched side-by-side made waves on social media prior to puck drop, showing the power of banter and edgy content and the less importance of flashy, highly intricate design. A common theme for strong social media engagement has been provocative content that pokes fun at others and remains light-hearted. Fans want to feel immersed in this rivalry, and giving them something snarky to share on their own timelines is important. Empower the fans that invest their emotions so heavily into the team. While the Penguins clearly won the troll game this week, it's too bad that they couldn't back it up on the ice, falling to Washington in a crushing 7-1 defeat on national television. In the end, actions do speak louder than words, and the Capitals got the last laugh (for now). But that being said, words do carry weight, and the way teams express themselves on social can go a long way in growing a passionate fanbase.
2) Florida Gators
While they haven't been the national championship contender in recent years that a program of their caliber expects, the University of Florida has still been playing in meaningful late-season games and the Gators have seen success on the gridiron. This weekend, they took on SEC East rivals LSU in a chance to capture their second straight division title - and they did just that. Fans are looking to rewind and relive these moments, and preparing content likewise is crucial, especially for big-time programs. Presenting the final play of the game as-is allows fans to feel as if they are watching the telecast in real-time, and enjoy the call over and over again. Curating a recap video, that provides highlights in a more exciting, emotion-intense way, does wonders in spreading passion and excitement that ordinary highlights simply cannot. This content does especially well with the younger demographic, which is why it is important for programs to target followers who are at a more impressionable age. It's a fun time to be in The Swamp!
3) Purdue Boilermakers
It's an exciting time to be a Boilermaker! The basketball program continues to grow and make waves, with the men's team situated in the AP Top 25 poll and fans across the country beginning to take notice of Purdue's strength. It's never too early to start planning for the future, and the program added a strong recruit to their class on National Signing Day. The social team welcomed him with a very sharp graphic, and it is cool to see future players getting recognition. This can be a strong draw for future recruits, as players are becoming more and more socially conscious. The social media team also highlighted the atmosphere within Mackey Arena, using visiting Villanova coach Jay Wright's testimonial to build pride to be a Boilermaker. It serves as a testament to fans to continue supporting the program and that their impact so far has been tangible. This empowers fans and excites them to continue coming out to the arena and supporting their team as best as they can. The gameday hype video serves the same purpose, constantly pushing the game and program and cultivating an atmosphere of success and excitement that hopefully keeps the ball rolling. Let's see where Purdue goes from here!
4) Kansas Jayhawks
Persistence pays off! After another tough season in Lawrence, the Jayhawks came into their senior day football game with nothing to lose. Staring down the barrel of a winless Big 12 season, the team came out to play and put together a memorable performance for the team, its fans, and the program. With these wins coming few and far between for now, the social team has the difficult task of remaining positive and keeping support of the program. When given the opportunity to engage and spread excitement, they have to work diligently to capture the moment and get fans back on their side and proud to support the Jayhawks. Kansas' touchdown GIFs are beautiful, with the perfect amount of animation and a rich color scheme that meshes perfectly with Jayhawk blue. The signature is a very clean touch as well. Capturing the excitement in the locker room is often what fans look forward to seeing the most, and the reaction from the players and coaches is priceless, especially with a win that lifts all of that pressure off of their shoulders. Great job by the Kansas social team to be in the perfect position to catch that celebration on video. Congrats, Jayhawks! You're slightly less miserable this weekend.
5) New Features: Instagram Links and Twitter QR Codes
Instagram and Twitter both continued their tweaks this week, with each platform releasing a new feature for users to utilize. Instagram now offers the ability to link external webpages or content to Instagram stories, and Twitter releasing a QR code that gives users the ability to scan and follow in a new, interactive way. Both will have implications in social media sports, and it will be interesting where teams take these new resources in the coming days and weeks. QR codes offer fans the ability to follow multiple accounts easier and adds a fun layer to finding and following your teams on social media. Instagram stories are already taking social by storm, as teams are becoming more innovative in the design and creative storytelling process. Being able to offer links opens up opportunity to share recaps, articles, and other content that was previously an arduous process. Look for teams to integrate this into their stories sooner rather than later!
6) Must-Follow Account
Jessica Smith, @WarJessEagle on Twitter, is in the spotlight this week - and deservedly so. For those interested in social media sports, rookie and veteran alike, she serves as a tremendous resource, pointing out the latest, best trends, posts, and content while offering valuable insight into the world of #smsports. A sampling of her posts can be found below, with many more to grab your attention on her timeline. If you're not following her already, what are you waiting for? Thank us later.
7) Shah's Social Media Strategy
Love your content. There is no content that does better than that which shows great passion. Fans and followers feel this same connection day in and day out, and it is up to the social team to bring about this emotion and build these deep relationships between the fan and the program or organization. If there is true passion and excitement and enthusiasm behind your content, it will show. There is an unmistakeable strength that draws fans to these posts, and they interact in high volume. Don't just create for the sake of a job. Create to connect. Create to share your passion and the rest usually takes care of itself.
We give Clemson a lot of love in the Social Media Seven, and it's hard to not point out another cool thing they did this week. The social team put together a really simple, yet satisfying video clip of lockers being prepared on game day. There is a calming yet confident flow to it, and it's another interesting take on behind-the-scenes type content paired with graphic and video coordination. Well done.
That's it for this week, folks. Thanks again for joining us here at Front Office Sports!