Last week, some of Barkley’s Social Media team ventured to good ‘ol Lawrence, Kansas for some networking, social media, and basketball of course! Professional group Social: IRL, run by Ben Smith, hosted an event in conjunction with KU Athletics. Conveniently, the event was held the night of a women’s basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse. Everyone met in the historic basketball arena to learn about KU’s Social Media and web presence.
Kevin McCarty, interactive web designer for KU Athletics, introduced the presentation and his colleagues Jackie Berra, a graphic designer, and Kyle Babson, a strategic communications manager. The three work together to manage KU Athletics’ twenty owned web properties. Some of these include more recognizable sites such as www.KUAthletics.com and www.KUtickets.com—but the team also runs sites for each sport, many of the coaches, and even fun sites promoting particular players.
Kevin gave some great insight on how their pages work including plenty of statistics, some of which were rather surprising. While hearing that 43% of their traffic is from mobile may not seem shocking, that number has nearly doubled since last year. Regarding their main social pages on Facebook and Twitter, KU does see 12% traffic directly from Facebook and 8% directly from Twitter.
Later, the team discussed some of their social strategy. Overall, KU Athletics tries to focus on capitalizing on what’s already popular, not trying to make fans do something they aren’t already doing. They use their social pages as a way to equip fans with ammunition to share on their on Facebook and Twitter pages. A great example of this occurred before the KU vs. K-State game, when the KU Athletics Social Media team posted an image from a KU/K-State game with the all time wins statistic. It was timed perfectly when fans would want to share the image just before the game began.
Another piece of their strategy includes identifying trends and how fans react to certain topics. Kyle explained that even though KU Athletics tweets many images and real-time statistics, their all-time statistics with no images continue to perform the best. Additionally, if Kyle and his colleagues did not pay attention to trending hashtags such as #airmclemore and #witheyblockparty, they might not have been able to take advantage of the fun player nicknames.
So what can clients take away from KU’s strategy? It’s important when managing different networks within the same brand to identify the correct voice based on the audience and type of network. KU Athletics has professional recruiting websites, and they also run KU Gameday, a more conversational Twitter account—and they find the voice for each. It’s also important to listen to the fans and constantly be adapting your strategy and tactics based on what’s working and resonating with your audience.
I may be biased, but I was really impressed by KU’s Social Media Team, and now when I watch Jayhawk basketball games, I’ll have a whole new appreciation for the Tweets, Vine videos, YouTube clips, and Facebook posts. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!