By: Sam Walsh
In 2016, social media is becoming an even larger part of our everyday lives. We are constantly checking our phones for the latest updates on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. This has resulted in athletic teams competing not only on the field, but in marketing themselves in the cyber world as well. With this new age media, one of the biggest questions is how can one differentiate oneself from its competition, keep loyal consumers interested, and successfully attract new audiences? Clemson University’s Social Media Team, led by Jonathan Gantt, has seemingly found the answers to those questions.
Clemson is on the fast-path to sustained success both on and off the football field. While Clemson’s football program was breaking school records on the field, seemingly the only team in the country as hot as them was Clemson’s Social Media Team. Using a wide array of material, Clemson was able to captivate the internet throughout the fall. On the field, the football team earned the school’s first ever #1 ranking in the College Football Playoff rankings. To match them, the social media team earned Sports Illustrated’s #1 ranking for Best College Football Twitter Handle to follow.
What has set Clemson apart from its competitors in the social media market? It obviously helps when you’re backing a winning program, but their social media team has taken it to a whole new level with their implementation of graphics and videos. In late September, prior to a showdown versus Notre Dame, Clemson’s Social Media Team posted a picture of a mock speed dating profile, inviting ESPN’s College Gameday to host their show from the school. Whether Gantt knew it or not, this was simply the tip of the iceberg for what his team would soon accomplish. As the football team kept winning, the graphics, vines, and short films kept coming. It gave the fans not only a laugh, but a chance to see what it was like to be a Clemson Tiger. Posting behind-the-scenes and locker room videos of the players and coaches practicing, preparing, and even dancing, kept the audience captivated. Their Social Media profile boomed and Clemson became a national name.
While I believe Clemson’s Social Media team is excelling, there are areas where they can improve. The majority of their social media posts are related to the school’s football program. Clemson has a number of other talented sports teams on campus, so it would be interesting to get a behind the scenes look at some of those teams. Of course, College Football is many schools’ largest revenue generator. Some in the Athletic Department may not see it worthwhile for the school to spend the resources they do for the football program to provide more of a behind-the-scenes looks at non-revenue sports. It will be interesting to follow Clemson’s team going forward, as their approach on Social Media has seemingly set the standard for how to successfully entertain your audience.