Social Wins From Gators Football

The college football season is always filled with creative and social inspiration. Every year, without fail, football programs raise the bar with their graphics, their hype and their content strategy. This year has been no exception.

The Florida Gators are a program that has burst onto the scene this year and have consistently delivered. From their amazing visual identity to their videos made for the platforms, the Gators are a program that should be on your radar for inspiration. Below are a few takeaways and curated examples:


Visual identity only they can own.

It’s important that teams put in the effort to define a visual identity in today’s crowded space. It makes content stand out above the crowd and eventually because recognizable for fans.

The Florida Gators not only created a visual identity, but they created one that only they can own. In their design, they leverage the teeth from their Gator logo as a consistent element throughout all their graphics. The use of the teeth is a distinction unique to them. Combine that with their bright colors and strong composition and the result is a strikingly sharp and eye-catching graphics package.


Videos made for social.

The Gators have stepped up their video game. They leverage everything from powerful emotion, inside access and their own game footage to provide access and content for fans. Each piece serves a unique purpose and they are extremely thoughtful about the creative execution.

It’s hard to pick out one thing they’re doing well across video because it’s all so engaging. So, take a look at their vast portfolio and get inspired.

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Just the B E G I N N I N G 🚫🧢

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Original reaction GIFS/content.

There is a big debate in the social and sports world about pop culture GIFS and memes. To share or not share? I’m a big believer that teams and brands should lean away from content that isn’t unique to their brand, and instead, work to create original content that evokes the right reaction and emotion.

It’s not easy to create content that is relatable for the moment. It’s a creative exercise that takes time and the desire to test and learn.

The Florida Gators have had some strong moments where they created content that taps into the emotion of the moment, whether it’s humor or hype. The below are good examples of how original content can win in the moment and still evoke the right type of emotion.

If you’re interested more on the topic of pop culture GIFS and memes, check out this post here.


Intentional execution.

As mentioned briefly, the Gators focus on their creative execution and doing it right. They design intentionally and with the platforms in mind. The details and nuances matter. A great example of this  is their “win tweet” execution, where they leverage four photos to form one larger graphic on mobile (and if you aren’t on mobile still looks sharp).

The Gators also do a fantastic job creating for the six-second loop feature on Twitter. They can tell a story in less than six seconds. And, they know the type of content that’s so memorizing you want to watch it on loop forever. Below are a few examples.


The bottom line is this: Concepts are important, but how we package and execute is also key. Leverage every platform’s different strengths to create content that is eye-catching, engaging and unique to the platform.

 

If the Gators FB social (and the athletic department in general) are not on your radar, it’s time to put them there. From their strong visual identity to their intentional creative executions, they’ve found a way to shine and capture the attention of their fans.  Follow them here: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

What other college football programs have caught your eye this season? I would love to hear your thoughts below!

How South Carolina Makes Video Content That Stands Out

With more than 100M video views consumed on Facebook a day, there is no longer a debate about whether to invest in video. Social video has arrived. And, as platforms, apps and brands continue to put a focus on video, the numbers will continue to arrive. By 2020 it’s predicted that online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020 (CISCO, 2016).

Video in sport powerful because of its ability to deliver on emotion. From humor to awe, the best type of content is one that evokes a feeling. Show it, don’t tell it, sort of thing.

If you’re looking for new video inspiration, the South Carolina Gamecocks are a great place to start. In the 2017 football season they set the bar for what social video should look like. How did their content stand out?

To start, they vary it. From illustrations to short videos, they always deliver something new and with top-notch quality. Often their content is short, simple but very impactful. It’s made for short attention spans. And, the more long form video is the kind that tugs at emotions to pull you in. They understand that good content is good content. Period. If you have not seen their work, below are a few examples that stand out:

 

"South Carolina Graduate" Has a nice ring to it.

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We in here 🤙

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Welcome to Bailey’s House of Pancakes!

A post shared by Gamecock Football (@gamecockfb) on

 

All of this fantastic work is spearheaded by Justin King, the Associate AD of New and Creative Media, and his team. In his role, King oversees the production of graphic and video content used in athletics recruiting and the Gamecock Football social media platforms. Below he shares some insight into their vision and success. Enjoy!

 

It’s clear you all have made a shift to video. Why was video important to invest in?

Video is such a powerful tool for capturing emotion in a way that just isn’t possible with other mediums. You can tell people about something, or you can SHOW them.

 

From a strategy perspective, what are the three biggest goals you have for the content you produce?

We have one BIG goal: Help the University of South Carolina win.

When people watch our content. We want reactions, even subconscious ones, to be “wow, this is awesome. I want to share this with other people so they can enjoy it too”. The beauty of social media is that it makes it easy for people to share things they enjoy with friends – giving us the world’s best distribution platforms.

 

What’s your team’s process for ideating new ideas or formulating your content strategy?

Honestly, I could break this entire question into 2 steps:

Step 1) Gather an incredible team of talented people passionate about creating great content.

Step 2) Constantly toss ideas around and make sure everyone knows they have the freedom to experiment.

If we try something and it doesn’t work, it’s not a failure at all. In fact, that is a success because we always learn something new during the process. The only failure is not trying.

 

There is a lot of debate about video lengths these days, from the six-second ad to long form. What’s your philosophy on video length?

Love this question and I have a strong philosophy on it:

Length should always be dictated by content.

In other words, if you can achieve the goal of the content in 6 seconds, then it should be 6 seconds. If your video is truly captivating at 2-3 minutes, then that’s what the length of the video should be.

As with 99% of rules in this industry, there are exceptions and things that need to be taken into account, but we have had tremendous success simply focusing on producing captivating content and not worrying as much about length.

 

How do you all define and measure your success?

This varies wildly. Our goal is to help the University of South Carolina recruit top athletes by showing that it is a great place to be, so sometimes we might release a video that doesn’t get a lot of views/likes … but that video has a specific message that reaches its target audience, then it’s a success.

Of course, thousands of RTs, likes and shares isn’t bad either.

 

What’s been the best performing piece of content for you all this season? And, do you have any insight into why?

I’m surrounded by such an incredible team and because of that we’ve had a number of pieces do well – in fact, it’s tough to say what our best performing piece actually was because they are all within similar numbers in terms of how widely shared they were. Below are a few highlights:

A lot of the reason for their success has to do with capitalizing on moments and opportunities. When you create quality content based around events people care about, it’s a strong recipe for success.

 

For teams looking to step up their video game, what tips and advice do you have for them?

Be willing to invest in people who are passionate about creating. Hire people who are so passionate that when an idea comes to them on a Saturday afternoon while they are just relaxing, they jump up and are excited to execute that idea.

After you hire them, provide them with a good place to work. This field is a lifestyle as much as a job – so when someone doesn’t come into the office by 8AM, trust that it’s because they were probably up until 2AM the night before finishing a project.

TL;DR – Invest in good people and enjoy the results. What a crazy theory, right?

 

Finally, what trends do you see will emerge with video content in 2018?

Right now the biggest trend I see is that consistency and quality of content will continue to rise as the tools needed to create that content become more and more accessible.

Editing programs that were once a $2,500+ investment are now a $20-a-month subscription for students. Everyone has a camera in their pocket on their phone. More and more people are starting to learn the art of creating content at a younger age so once they go through a good internship program they come out at a level that you typically didn’t see until someone had 7+ years of professional experience.

(PS: That doesn’t mean they should come cheaper, though. Invest.)

Thanks again to Justin King for his fantastic input. Be sure to follow him on Twitter (@JustinKing) as well as the Gamecocks Football accounts (@GamecocksFB).

College Football & Video, Video, Video

One thing was clear if you scrolled through Twitter during the first weekend of college football. Video is now the crown jewel of content. Yes, it was everywhere.

There are a lot of reasons why teams and brands are investing more in video. The average user spends over 16 minutes watching online video ads every month. And, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combine (Brightcove). When done right, video has the ability to captivate an audience more than any other medium right now.

But, the key is that video content has to be strong. To get people to actually stop and watch within their feeds take something special. Below are a few things to keep in mind:

 

1- The opening matters.

The first three seconds of any video are critical to pulling people in. You don’t get the luxury of getting to the heart of the matter 10 seconds. Fans will already be long gone if you haven’t pulled them in. Make sure your first few frames capture attention, hearts and mind or all the labor of love will be fruitless.

 

2- Evoke emotion.

What draws people into content is emotion, of all kinds. When people watch and share videos, it’s because something about the video resonated with them. This article in FastCo said it best:

Popular brands had multifaceted personalities. They could make you laugh, or cheer, or lean forward and take notes. They’d stopped hammering away at a share of mind, and were expanding to achieve a share of emotion.

When you think about video content, ask what type of emotion you want to evoke. Focus on delivering a piece that achieves that share of emotion.

 

3- Storytelling comes in all lengths.

Six-second ads are all the rage these days. Of course there is value in catering to short attention spans, but it’s more about eliciting AND sustaining emotion that matters. Don’t be afraid to produce a longer video if the quality is there. The key is to test different lengths, mix it up and make sure the content is as compelling as can be.

 

4- Quality over quantity.

Investing in video is a commitment. It takes time and resources, so they key is to focus on quality over quantity. I would take strong photography and graphics offer lackluster video any day because a mediocre video isn’t going to get any traction. Don’t feel the pressure to have every piece of content be video. Instead, make sure your content strategy includes a strong mix of video, photos and graphics.

 

5- Think about the platform.

Different video formats, from live to vertical, work better on different platforms. As your approach content planning, think about how to diversity the type of content and a/b test on what works best.

Now, let’s get to the fun stuff. Below are some standout video creations from the first weekend of college football. This list spans from brand storytelling to shorter clicks and live video. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration in it:

 

Michigan

This video is rooted in the history, the brand and the emotion of Michigan. It’s beautifully produced and a great example of a longer video that works. Turn up the video on this one because the script is especially strong.

 

Clemson- First-Hand POV

Every year Clemson delivers on elevating their content. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, they offer a completely fresh take on creative. This video puts fans in a player’s shoes, offering a first-hand perspective the work it takes to get to game day.

 

Iowa

It doesn’t take an Iowa fan to appreciate the emotion that’s brought to life in this video. Like the Michigan video, this isn’t a hype reel. It’s a video rooted in the Hawkeye’s brand, history and nostalgia and it will give you goosebumps.

Another thing worth noting is that Iowa leveraged former players to help share the video. A smart distribution play:

 

Auburn

Auburn’s video have taking on a unique style this season. The perspective and editing alone is enough to capture attention.
The first video is great example of tapping into something other than a highlight reel. It’s not a long emotional story. It doesn’t show big hits. In fact, it doesn’t show any on-the-field footage at all. This video works because of the unique approach to production. The editing and video style what make it stand out—and the engagement numbers show it.

The second video is a great example of how you can make something as simple as sights and sounds compelling. Again, it goes back to the perspective and editing in this video.

 

South Carolina

The Gamecocks had several video highlights. From a snackable video that offers a firsthand perspective to a more emotional hype video, the Gamecocks show us what it means to produce a variety of video content that is quality.

 

 

 

Oregon

This video is completely different than anything else covered. It’s illustrative, fun and has a bit of an Oregon vintage feel. Not everything has to be overly emotional or hard hitting – don’t be afraid to focus on something that’s different and fun.

 

Oklahoma

The Sooners produced a live pre-game show that was over three hours long. They did a fantastic job of mixing in studio coverage with sights and sounds from game day. Fans from all across the country were able to get amazing access and information, for free, all from their phone. This is the future of programming and something all teams and leagues should be thinking about:

 
 
What videos stood out to you the first weekend of college football? Share your thoughts below.

Rivalry Weekend Highlights

Rivalry weekend is one of the best in college football. It’s a day rooted in history, emotion and unpredictable outcomes. And just as players and coaches pour themselves into preparing for the big game, so do countless social/digital staffs across the country (which means endless inspiration). Below are a few of the top highlights over the weekend, from a creative Instagram Story execution to GIF inspiration.

 

1- Video Storytelling

We don’t see enough video storytelling in sports beyond the highlight reel. Hype music and big hits are great, but what sets your team apart from the rest? It’s the history, the passion, the tradition, the people.

Rivalry weekend lends itself to fantastic storytelling, whether or not your team is having a storied season. From a quick scan, there weren’t a lot of emotional videos this weekend beyond the highlight reel, but below are two that stood out.

 

Remember that sport offers a lot more than just the scores. As you plan out your coverage for the season or a big game, find inspiration from your people (players past and present to fans), your history, your tradition and beyond. Tap into what makes the game and team emotionally compelling and you’ll create content that wins.

 

2- GIFspiration

The average person’s attention span is now shorter than a goldfish. Keeping this in mind, moving image is a great opportunity to capture fans’ attention. Below are some of the GIFS that stood out over the weekend.

 

3- Simple + Sharp Salute To Seniors

Since rivalry week is the last regular season game for players, it’s a great time honor them and their commitment to the school and team.  Tap into their reflections, their accomplishments, their sentiment.

Mizzou had a beautiful tribute on Instagram to their seniors. They went with a nostalgic feel to salute to their seniors, then returned to color imagery after win. The result was a visually appealing, beautiful execution. Here’s a look at how it played out:

 

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In addition, this simple but powerful video from Clemson was a nice nod. There’s something to be said for strong, cinematic footage and simplicity.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/ClemsonFB/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

4- POV Narrative on Instagram Story

Clemson executed an amazing Instagram Story during rivalry weekend. Under the premise of a point-of-view narrative, they told the story of “The Dream Gameday”.  If a fan could go anywhere on gameday, what would they do?

The digital team at Clemson put together a high level storyboard and then gave a student intern the keys to execute. And he executed brilliantly. The minute I started watching I wondered who the person was and where they were going next. The Story wasn’t just interesting; it felt personal and intimate (like a best friend’s account). Here’s a snippet of the content (sorry it’s not in order):

How many times have you seen a player run on to a field on Snapchat or IG Story? Too often “point of view” executions lack storytelling and creativity. The tools are abused before it’s easy to hold a button and capture content, but POV tools are only as good as the idea and the content creator. This from Clemson is a great example of elevating the game.

 


 

What else stood out to you over the weekend? Share below.

Thanks for reading!

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

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

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.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

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!

 

Thanks for reading!