When a football team loses, what do its supporters do? Turn to social media, of course, and college football teams are using this to their advantage. After a big loss to LSU, Auburn quickly posted on its Facebook page, “We Will Rise Auburn.” Thousands of likes and hundreds of comments later, a loss became a call to arms – join us, we are family, we can do this. The fans become one with the team. While the use of social media by college football teams is not new, what is more recent is the immediate reaction to losses and wins and even to plays during games.
Last fall CBS published on its website an article featuring the top ten NCAA football teams “getting social” online. The teams included some perhaps unexpected like South Carolina and others more expected like Stanford and Oregon. Coming in a number three was LSU which has a Geaux Zone where fans can not only watch games; they can watch games in HD. Oregon, ranked number one in social media use by CBS, has iPhone and Android apps with a live morning show each day and a constantly updated Facebook page which includes contests and videos. Few college football teams, few college athletic teams, have no social media presence. This growing use of social media by college football teams indicates that there is a large audience for these sites and apps.
But who is engaging in social media? Apparently a lot of people are – both students and non-students alike, according to sbrnet.com. In the most recent survey done in 2014 by sbrnet.com, 55.8% of college football fans said they used social media to follow their teams. Of those who use Facebook to follow their teams, 38.6% are ages 18-34, but 24% are 35-49, and a surprising 29.2% are over age 50. Since most students will fall in the 18-34 age range, it is clear that the appeal of social media is not just for the young or for students but for fans of all ages. Also while college football is thought to be a sport that appeals more to men than to women (at least outside the South), 43.8% of college football fans who follow their teams on Facebook are women. Therefore it makes sense that teams like Auburn are using social media to manage their fans’ perceptions of the team.
But it is not only Auburn who is using this strategy. Last year after a big loss to South Carolina, Georgia posted on Facebook before its next game, “We will not be stopped.” That post had, according to joefavorito.com, over 60,000 views. Teams also are taking to social media during games to encourage their fan bases. As more stadiums are wired and almost everyone walking through the gates has a smart phone, fans are interacting not just after the games but during the games as well. Last Saturday night as Auburn struggled against Mississippi State, the official Auburn Tigers Facebook page had this post, “Second half. LET’S GO!!! WAR EAGLE!” That post now has almost 29,000 views.
Social media is expanding daily. There is nothing like a Like on Facebook or a Favorite on Twitter to help a team send its message and interact with its fans. And as Georgia told its fans, social media has the same message, “We will not be stopped!”
This blog post was written by Samford University student Brian Smith http://www.linkedin.com/in/smithbs1994