How social media is shaking up college sport in the US

February 4th, 2010

In the competitive world of US College Sport, something other than strength and speed is grabbing attention: goofiness.

My friend Dave Murphy from Michigan pointed to this article about Mark Titus, a reserve for the Ohio State basketball team. Titus doesn’t get on the court very often, but he’s grabbing the headlines for his blog, Club Trillion: Life views from the end of the bench.

Here’s more from Dave:

This guy is taking on a “sacred institution” – major amateur sports in America – and he’s poking fun at it in a way that’s making him more popular than his more talented and serious teammates.  There are hints of Sasha Cohen and his various crazy characters such as Ali G, Borat, etc.  Except what’s amazing is that this is happening in real time for a true team that’s competing around the country & it’s not just a staged event ala Cohen’s antics.

Americans walk this interesting fine line in which they dedicate way too much time to sports yet they’re aware of this crazy obsession and even resent the very people they follow.  So now there’s a guy who’s “penetrated” the inner circle and is goofing on the very institution he’s a part of.

Where is this headed for Titus? He’s created (or at least mastered) a new genre – real-time satirical commentary from the inside (I’m sure a better name will present itself). But will it be enough to become a career or a business?

Dave observes (with added emphasis from me):

“There have been plenty of benchwarmers in the past who might have tried something like this, but here’s the first to capitalize on his unique situation.  How’s he pulling it off?  It’s a combination of seeing a niche that others missed, as well as having the right self-deprecating touch to be given the forgiving latitude by school, staff & fans as he continues the mockery of a sacred institution from within.

This is absolutely only possible via the tech tools/media we have available today.  Perhaps before blogging and Youtube, he could have written a retrospective book…but who on earth would care about reading what a benchwarmer thinks after the fact when there are 300-400 major college teams, each with 3-4 benchwarmers per year?  It’s the immediacy provided by these current tools that makes it interesting…content is important, but immediacy and first-time-to-do-it are perhaps even more important.  People are enjoying the real time ride but won’t really care about this perspective after the fact.”

Some pretty good tips there for anyone wanting to get ahead in social media. (Although there will always be a huge need for valuable, relevant content that’s not real-time).

If you were Titus, how would you keep this good thing going? Where would you take it next?

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How to promote an event through social media

February 9th, 2009

As we’re gearing up to promote this Thursday’s Twestival and the Marketing Now Conference in April, I’ve been thinking about how best to get the word out about an upcoming event.

Here’s what I’m learning:

Add intimacy to reach and frequency.

Traditional media rely on reach (how many people hear your message) and frequency (how often they hear it). This gets a little annoying (like those TV ads you like the first 5 times, and hate thereafter).

Adding intimacy is something you could even do on traditional media, but few people do. It’s a sense of letting your audience in behind the scenes, so they know and are a part of the event, before it happens.

It could be as simple as me twittering: "Going to the printer’s to pick up the nametags for Thursday’s Twestival. I hope we don’t run out; we printed 100!"

This communicates a subtle reminder of the event, while also communicating other information (there will be nice printed nametags, there will be about 100 people – we hope!). It also lets the audience know what’s happening behind the scenes, and the live, real-time nature of Twitter/Social media somehow helps this.

Get your audience involved

If you’re running the event, maybe you can crowdsource suggestions on different aspects of the event.


  • Better ideas
  • A greater sense of involvement from those who have contributed ideas – and therefore greater likeliness that they’ll attend and encourage others to come.

Sometimes event organisers do this the old-fashioned way, through a competition. But instead of inviting the feedback of potential attendees, they just bribe their way through with a prize.

Sure there’s value in prizes and incentives, but sometimes as an event organiser you can offer great value, without paying a cent. Being heard is increasingly valuable in a busy world where the biggest dollars usually have the loudest voice.

Variations on a theme

Twitter promotion can be like radio advertising – you need to promote your event at different times of the day to reach different audiences. Yet some people will be on there all the time, and since they’re likely to be quite influential you do not want to annoy them.

What to do? Variations on a theme. In other words, don’t just tweet the same old message. Find all its different flavours, and explore them. Are there different speakers? Promote each one and the message they’ll be delivering.

Share your learnings

As you go, maybe write a blog post about … um, "how to promote an event through social media"!

How do you do it?

If you run and promote events, how do you use social media to promote your event? We’d love to see your comments below.

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