Talking Social Media and College Football on ESPN Radio.

September 13, 2018

Talking Social Media and College Football on ESPN Radio.

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The world of athletics, specifically college football, has drastically evolved with the development of social media. The second screen phenomenon has transformed the way we watch and interact with live sporting events. For example, when was the last time you watched a game without checking your social feed at least once?

I recently heard an analogy labeling Twitter as the virtual sports bar where fans go before, during, and after games to discuss –The ratings agree. According to Nielsen insights, sporting events consistently comprise a majority of the most-tweeted-about TV broadcasts throughout the year.

What makes sports and social media so compatible?

Growing up in Salt Lake City, I was immersed in the strong rivalry between the BYU Cougars and the University of Utah Utes. A Cougar fan myself, I have experienced some of the most rewarding victories and punishing losses as a result of this historic feud. Wanting to examine the rivalry further, I recently tweeted a graphic comparing social media mentions between the BYU and Utah fan bases collected by Nuvi. This graphic compares overall social mentions from the past 30 days in addition to the reach (potential original audience size) and spread (additional potential secondary audience size).

Nuvi is incredibly unique because it provides the ability to track conversations in real-time for brands, companies, restaurants, and sports teams. These real-time conversations offer important information regarding sentiment, trending keywords, trending locations, and influencers — not to mention opportunities for social media accounts to engage with their desired audiences. This has become key for sports compatibility because engaged followers will be more likely to buy from a brand they follow and interact with — meaning an increase in ticket and merchandise sales as well as sponsorship opportunities.

What do the numbers say?

This week I joined Ben Criddle on ESPN 960 AM, a local sports radio station in Utah County, to discuss the social media trends surrounding college football.  During the segment, Ben and I discussed the strength of BYU’s fan base and how that fanaticism translated on social media. Not only has BYU (40k mentions) out-paced Utah (18k) through the first two weeks of the college football season, but BYU also has more social mentions than Wisconsin (39k), Washington (25k),  UCLA (21k), and dozens of other prominent college football programs.

Alabama, the number one ranked team in the country, has recorded 132k social mentions in the last 30 days — significantly higher than any other team in the country. Other notable teams include Ohio State (101k), Georgia (64k), Miami (63k), Oklahoma (56k), and Clemson (51k).

Criddle and I addressed the general social media landscape in Utah. While Utah is considered a “small market,” athletic events continue to dominate the conversation. For example, the Utah Jazz controlled the social airwaves during the NBA season, but BYU ran the show following the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

Does success on the field equate with success online?

Definitely, it is no coincidence that spikes in social performance correlate with on-field success. Based on past trends, I predict we will see a shift in social conversation as the college football season unfolds. Success on the field could result in elevated social activity, especially when playing against nationally ranked teams such as Stanford, USC, and other Pac-12 matchups. Based off of BYU’s broad reach and exposure, the Cougars could make a big play on social media if they perform well against their stronger opponents on-field.  

Now you can keep up with the college football season using Nuvi to track real-time changes in the social media landscape.  Nuvi provides a special opportunity for sports teams and fans to keep track of the social numbers and hear the views of their respective fan base. Share your thoughts below and let us know what you think of the most recent social media trends.

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