2016 CFB National Championship Social Media Coverage

This year’s College Football National Championship was an instant classic. With back and forth leads, big plays and the beloved pylon cam, it was everything you could want from the National Championship game.

And like every other major sporting event, the social media + sports community tuned in to TVs, screens and everything eles to watch the coverage unfold. Early on it was easy to see the contrast different in the approach to both Clemson and Alabama’s coverage

There are a lot of great lessons, ideas and tidbits to take away from the coverage. Below are some highlights, with a little help from my #smsports friends:



Clemson might not have taken home the hardware that night, but they definitely won the social media and sports game. Equipped with a team ready to turn out quality content with speed, Clemson’s coverage of the game truly enhanced the viewing experience. Their focus was on a rich media experience, telling the story of the game through photos, videos, Vines, etc. Here are a few of the things that stood out about Clemson’s coverage below.

Repurpose stories.
Early in the season Clemson released a beautiful video called “The Dream”. Given the theme, it was almost as if they predicted the season they were going to have. Their team spliced, diced and shared this video and theme multiple ways throughout the year:

Clemson carried “The Dream” thematic with them to the National Championship, pushing out the original content again and also creating new content inline with the video. Here’s a look at a few pieces:

They dreamed of this moment… Now it's here. #ALLIN 🐅🐾 #Clemson

A video posted by Clemson Football (@clemsonfb) on

All too often we create good content, push it out once and walk away. Good content and good stories require building. Good content requires thoughtful and creative distribution if you want it to be seen. Not matter how good the piece is, you can’t expect to share it once and reach the audience it deserves. If you spend time developing a great story, make sure you spend the time thinking through how you can distribute it throughout the year and extend the story with additional content. Repurpose, retell and redistribute.

Timing is everything.
During games, timing is everything with social media coverage. Clemson has the manpower to act swiftly and nimbly, and it shined in their coverage. Content was pushed out quickly and always at the right moment. The best example of this is their tweet right after Alabama scored their first TD:

This was the perfect sentiment at the perfect moment. Instead of letting negativity find fans, the Clemson social team swooped in with an emotional piece of content to set the tone.

When planning for a national stage like this, it’s a good idea to have a bank of strong content you can pull for different scenarios. If you get the content generic enough, you can use copy to pull it into the scenario. Remember, you can plan for the unexpected in sports. You just have to get a little creative.

Capitalize on the moment.
When your team is on a championship stage, it’s an opportunity to get in front of a whole new audience. Capitalize on the moment to spread a larger message on what your school, team, traditions, etc. are all about.

Clemson didn’t focus only on the championship game that week; they also took it as an opportunity to shine a wider light on their university and academics.

How about that? #ALLIN 🐅🐾 #Clemson

A photo posted by Clemson Football (@clemsonfb) on

When you’re on a big stage—whatever it is—use the opportunity to tell a broader story far beyond the game. Whether it’s highlighting emotional stories on the team, showcasing academics, tapping into tradition, etc., you should absolutely capitalize on your moment in the spotlight.

Diverse portfolio of content.
This season Clemson did a fantastic job of telling their story through a variety of content. They always mix it up, from Vines to GIFS to photos, and it is anything but dry. In fact, their content is normally composed of one of two things: Emotion or swagger. From their touchdown GIFS to their video storytelling, here’s a look at some their content highlights from the night:

Content that is diverse and unpredictable makes it fun to follow along. It’s also more likely to standout from all the noise.

Thoughtful approach to a loss.
Clemson handled their loss better, and with more emotion, than a team I’ve seen in recent memory. They didn’t shy away from their content. Instead, they embraced the emotional journey of the loss, of their year, of their team.

Clemson found a way to tell a graceful and emotional story after the game. The content was extremely creative too, from paying attention to the stains earned to a recollection of a few of the players on their National Signing Day.

A loss doesn’t mean you have to hang your head and be silent, especially after the year that Clemson had. Clemson proved you can tap into the emotion of a heartbreaking loss and come out stronger. Every loss and situation is different, but for their situation, Clemson couldn’t have handled the loss any better.
A few other highlights from Clemson that stood out to the #smsports crew:



Alabama’s coverage of the National Championship game was vastly different than Clemson. They took a more traditional approach on Twitter, focusing on stats and play-by-play. At the end of the game they turned to more rich content—native video, photos and graphics.

When you’re on a national stage like the championship though, I believe content deserves to be stepped up a notch. As talked about earlier, there are more eyes on your program than ever before. While the dry play-by-play might have been Alabama’s strategy, it would have been nice to see a little more emotion, depth and storytelling. After all, it’s a storied program (and as an Auburn fan, that hurts to say).

Even then, Alabama owned their strategy through and through and it was wildly differently that Clemson’s—maybe that was the point. Below are a few other key highlights.

Graphics game on point.
The graphics Alabama turned out throughout the game were sharp and easy to consume. Their design game has always been strong; in fact, I wish we got to see more of it.

Native video.
While a lot of Alabama’s game coverage was dry, they did do a good job of utilizing native video on Facebook and Twitter.


Video tells a more impactful story than photos and text alone. And, video consumption continues to grow. Video doesn’t have to be long or edited for it to perform well either, as the content above shows. Take the time to integrate video into your plan.



Below are some other highlights from #smsports friends and/or content that stood out:





I would love your thoughts. What stood out to you? Share below!


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