How Clemson’s Social Media Crew is Winning the Internet

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.


24 thoughts on “How Clemson’s Social Media Crew is Winning the Internet

  1. Aishwarya Gunti April 25, 2016 / 1:56 pm

    The videos of behind scenes and locker room are the exciting part. I personally feel that definitely gives an edge over their competitors. I totally agree on focusing on other areas of college other than football because their still be people who would be wondering what is it to be someone who is not a football player in Clemson.


  2. Meghan Gulbrandsen April 25, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    Social media is definitely a big part of sports now. It is a great way to be able to keep fans connected to games and their favorite teams 24/7. Every fan can’t make it to every game, so this is a great area to capitalize in to make your audience feel like they are there without actually being there, and this is exactly what Clemson did with their Twitter page to become the success that they are. Giving a fan that “behind the scene” feeling is huge, and feeling like you are apart of something makes the experience that much more personal and enjoyable.


  3. Colleen Flynn April 25, 2016 / 2:35 pm

    I believe that social media is definitely a key in a school’s athletic programs as well. Social media provides a way to hype up fans and get people excited for games. It gets your school’s name out there as a form of advertising almost. Also, not everyone will be able to catch every single game, but rather check in on social media as well. If a school has a exciting and entertaining social media presence, it will more often translate to the fans’ behavior. I believe that it is a lot easier to have a better social media presence when you are nationally ranked and your team is winning a lot of games. It is much easier to create more hype and have people talking about your school and being excited. The key for schools would be to create a great social media page to keep engagement high even when there may be slumps on the athletic field too. I think Clemson has done a great job, but maybe looking into the other sports teams will test their capabilities of whether or not they can have a great social media page even if it is not completely about the football program.


  4. Olivia Sullivan April 26, 2016 / 5:09 pm

    Social media is great when it comes to sporting events. Sometimes when scrolling through the Twitter feed it feels like I am at the game with all the people tweeting the details. And when you can’t make a game there always an account you can go to that it tweeting about what is happening that very second. With Clemson giving behind the scene action it makes people feel more apart of the school community and it makes the experience more fun.


  5. cbernard7778 April 26, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    My favorite part of integrating social media with college sports is being able to follow more than one game. Especially in terms of Merrimack hockey, I loved how I was able to watch the men’s game at home, and still follow the other Hockey East games to see how we were doing compared to other teams. Social media for sporting events a college plays a huge role in increasing school spirit and gaining recognition for certain plays, goals, or fights. Students are more likely to share these videos or pictures and raise awareness about a school’s sports team


  6. Hechuan Lou April 26, 2016 / 9:05 pm

    I think this is a very interesting article. Social media is becoming more and more important, and many companies start developing their social media teams. Sport teams or institutions also interested in developing their own social media platforms or connect with other social media platforms. I think what Clemson did was great, but what they need to pay attention to in the future is how to make their social media content more attractive to the fans.


  7. Ronald Zampanti April 27, 2016 / 1:35 am

    The Social Media Team at Clemson probably did do a great job in developing a large following but I believe the main reason for this large following is simply due to the success of the football program. If the team was not good then not as many people would even think to look at the content by Clemson’s Social Media Team. Graphics and videos are forms of visual marketing. This form of marketing in which Clemson used is becoming more and more popular among audiences.


  8. Marisa Harrington May 1, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    I agree that social media plays a large role in everything we do. Many sports teams have videos that go viral and then their Instagram and Twitter accounts become some of the most popular accounts of the day. By posting all the time, it helps to keep the fan following involved. it is very important to have a good form of visual marketing for online websites. For example, when looking at colleges, everyone goes on the schools website. If the website isn’t easy to use, its is going to make people uninterested in the school.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. adeangelo13 May 2, 2016 / 11:48 pm

    As a huge Clemson football fan, I can 100% agree with how spot on their social medias are. This form of marketing in which Clemson used is becoming more and more popular among audiences because everyone is always refreshing Twitter and other social medias to get news 24/7. Whether it be Dabo Swinney, their coach, dancing or new incoming information about recruits- Clemson’s social media is always on point.


    • Sam Walsh May 8, 2016 / 12:14 am

      After reaching new heights last year, expectations are going to be through the roof this year and they’ll be in the spotlight week after week, That goes for both the football team and the social media team. Can you imagine the locker room videos of Dabo if they were to win the National Championship?


  10. cassidylebert May 3, 2016 / 5:23 pm

    After reading this post I checked out Clemson Athletics’s twitter account and was very impressed by their posts. I think one of the most compelling strategies they’re utilizing to keep their audience engaged is taking videos of the players, especially them dancing because who doesn’t love that? Using twitter as a form of marketing is something all Colleges should do, especially athletic divisions as it serves as a great source to provide live updates and other team information.


  11. cimminoc May 4, 2016 / 12:23 pm

    Social media is a valuable asset to many college sports teams. On the Merrimack baseball team we utilize Twitter and Snapchat which gives us great exposure. Although we are not as big as Clemson, there is no doubt it is a useful tool to gain fans. I watched videos on the Clemson team and head coach dancing in the locker room after a win. This gave everyone an inside look on how the program is run and could make more top notched recruits want to go to Clemson to be apart of the fun atmosphere.


  12. Andie-Jane Phinney May 5, 2016 / 4:50 pm

    Social media has become a huge advantage for schools and sports teams. It allows for others to connect to certain schools without even being at the events. Snap chat/instagram and even Facebook allow for schools to post, update and share their events going on for the team. Snap chat allows for personal interactions with the teams, as it can show the behind the scenes of the games and such which is awesome! Clemson is a big school, with a great fan base. They have great social media platforms that are updated and involve everybody, even fans who are not in the area.


  13. Joseph Sanfilippo May 5, 2016 / 10:48 pm

    Social media is huge in sports now, from updating people on scores and gameplay but also giving people the chance to express their opinions on the games. This entire year I followed the Merrimack Men’s ice hockey team on Twitter, where they provided updates and the scores of games as they went on. Even though I wasn’t there, I was able to follow what was going on during the games. I think many schools and professional sports leagues are using this to their advantage, which creates a lot of social media marketing opportunities.


  14. Tyler Finigan May 5, 2016 / 11:43 pm

    The behind the scenes footage is great and they should expect another exciting season from their football team, as a lot of key players are returning on both sides. I like how you suggested that they expand and do more on the school’s other sports teams. Clemson’s baseball team has had a lot of good seasons in recent years. By expanding footage to other teams and getting even more students and student-athletes involved, Clemson’s social media team can have an even greater role in the community and repeat as the nation’s #1 social media team.


    • Sam Walsh May 8, 2016 / 12:35 am

      Deshaun Watson has already said that he believes the offense has the potential to be the best ever next season, and I bet the social media crew set a similar goal in being the best. Hopefully the next season is as, or more, exciting than this past one. You mention the school’s baseball team, and I’m surprised they haven’t been more active with them. They’ve had a solid year so far, and have one of the best players in College Baseball in Seth Beer. They’ve posted some videos, but nothing close to the extent of what they have done for the football teams. This could be due to the coaches of the teams providing more of less access, or the Athletic Department feeling that spending the resources to cover the baseball team wouldn’t be beneficial in terms of revenue generating.


  15. Megan Lac May 6, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    Social media is an important part in athletics and getting recruits to come to the school. For smaller schools some people might not know that certain programs exist. For example, rowing is such a small sport and its hard to know which schools have a program without going on the website and looking through their athletics.
    I think that the Clemson football team did an amazing job with their marketing. Having been to the campus before they did a wonderful job at capturing how nice the campus is.


    • Sam Walsh May 8, 2016 / 12:07 am

      Even for some of the larger schools, people won’t be aware that these non-revenue generating sports exist. Using social media could be an easy way to promote awareness and grow interest. For Clemson’s social media marketing specifically, they are promoting this fun-loving and family-centered environment, which is what the university and town are all about, as you probably know from having been there.


  16. CJ Enos May 6, 2016 / 8:20 pm

    This type of branding through social media really gives a positive light to the school. While I’m not a college football follower, I do know about Clemson because of their social media campaign. I’m sure it is only a matter of time before other colleges follow suite. I do agree though they should try and showcase some other aspects of their school.


  17. Derek Lawton May 7, 2016 / 12:20 am

    Social media plays such a major part in sports now. I think Clemson’s marketing team is doing a great job. It gives people who can’t make a game or someone who may not know about a game to get involved. Word of mouth spreads so fast this is why Clemson’s social media team is doing such a great job.


  18. Nichole Urbanski May 11, 2016 / 6:22 pm

    It is crazy to think about how much social media plays in athletics! I agree with Derek that this initiative allows people outside to get involved! I’m sure that other teams will take on this approach as well as it can bring great success! Showing other aspects of the school as well will bring in more and more people who want to get involved. While Clemson might be set apart from others at the moment, it is only a matter of time until other schools decide to jump on the band wagon and do what Clemson is doing. Great article!


    • Sam Walsh May 12, 2016 / 11:46 am

      As it was mentioned above, one of the things Clemson does really well is capturing videos of the coaches dancing and the players having a great time. Even in the last month we’ve seen many college athletic teams joining in on the Running Man Challenge, whether it be the players dancing around the locker room or sometimes at practice. Social Media is giving these teams a platform to show the fun side of their programs, the side we wouldn’t normally see during a game. Plus, it’s free exposure, so why wouldn’t a team do it?


  19. Jessica May 12, 2016 / 7:31 pm

    Clemson definitely takes advantage of social media outlets, giving them an edge against their competitors. I thought the video really gives it a personal touch. And it markets the program really well, showing how much time they put into marketing the sports program gives helps you understand the passion they have for their students and the experiences they give you at the school. The video goes a great job of portraying an experience.


  20. Ashley Alves May 12, 2016 / 8:39 pm

    I personally know nothing about Clemson and I have honestly never have heard of them but was thoroughly impressed by this presentation and learning what their social media team has done. I know that this is a rather large team of skilled individuals with extensive experience but this truly shows how effective social media marketing can be if it is done correctly.


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