4 College Football Teams Taking Video To The Next Level

Early on, college athletic departments bought into social media as a tool for recruiting. Their target? High schoolers who grew up in this digital age and are good at blocking out the noise. This began the quest for digital and creative talent within athletic departments. And, the quest turned into an arm’s race for talent so programs could create content that actually captures attention.

Today, college football sets the tone for innovation in our industry. Every year programs consistently step up their game. Every season is another season full of inspiration. 2018 was no exception.

One area that particularly stands out in college athletics is video content. Whether programs tap into the emotional bond fans have with the school or push the envelope of what it means to create for the platforms, good video content is an area where college football tends to shine. Below are four schools that stood out this season and a little insight into why:

Ohio State – Design That Brings The Fire

Ohio State has an incredible design team and they use their talent to create stunning motion graphics for gamedays and big moments. Not only is their visual identity distinct and innovative, but their use of motion is always different and eye-catching.

Video content doesn’t always mean a hype reel, game footage or talking heads. Video content can also be used for more branded plays and milestone moments, even without a lot of b-roll. And, Ohio State is a great source of inspiration when it comes to raising the bar on how design can be leveraged to create video content. Below are a few executions that stood out this season:

It would also be a miss to feature Ohio State and not give some love to their Signing Day video that shows Urban Meyer passing the control to Ryan Day. It was well executed, incredibly creative and played into their video game theme for all of Signing Day:


Clemson – Content That Feels More Personal

Clemson has been dominating the video game for quite a while now. They are no doubt one of the crown jewels in the content space and they continued to prove why in 2018.

While they do a lot of things well, one thing that stood out is how personal they make their video content feel. Their digital team appears to have an amazing relationship with players and coaches and it shows in the work. The footage they get often has a more intimate, first-hand perspective.

The Clemson vlog is definitely the star of the show. The weekly series brings fans up close and personal with the team. It’s often a one-stop shop for understanding what’s going on week after week. The vlog serves up a mix of highlights, strong b-roll and player and coach interviews.

The interviews and angles filmed are what makes the vlog so unique. Players and coaches can often be seen taking over the camera. The angles from the b-roll footage makes fans feel like they’re right in the middle of the action. It’s a bit raw and not at all overproduced, but that’s why it works. It brings fans into that moment in an intimate way. Below are a few examples from the vlog this season:

This personal style of video doesn’t stop with the vlog though. Across much of their content, Clemson picks angles that brings fans into the scene. Their interviews feel more like conversations than stiff talking heads. And, they do a fantastic job getting off the cuff personal reactions to moments. The result is content that pulls you in:

Part of our job as digital marketers is to get fans as close to the team and brand as possible. Clemson’s raw and personal approach to video is a great source of inspiration for how to get there.


South Carolina – Next-Level Production & Swagger

There wasn’t a team that brought more creativity and swagger to their video production this year than South Carolina. Each week their team produced high-quality content that was engaging and worth stopping in your feed for.

The consistent commitment to producing quality work is something that truly stood out. Watching from afar it seemed like their team took the “less is more” approach. This allowed them to push the envelope of their creativity and execute well. And when you consistently produce at a high-level week after week, fans are more willing to give you their attention (it’s a trust thing).

It’s too hard to pick on series that the Gamecocks did well because it was all so good. Here’s a snippet of their work from the season, ranging from uniform unveils to pure hype and the emotional connection of their brand:

In a season that was probably a little disappointing for their fans, their video content still performed. Why? Because their team was committed to bringing the next-level production and swagger every time they shared a piece. Consistency and a commitment to doing the best work goes a long way in getting tune-in week after week.


Georgia- Weekly Trailer Fueled By Emotion

The video team at UGA is full of masterful storytellers and cinematographers. Each week they produce a trailer that chronicles the team in a fashion that is much more than the scores. The series taps into the journey, the emotion and the fanbase that helps carry the team along the way.

The video team at UGA seems to take pride in the details. The music choice, the imagery, the script and the way the story builds week after week always delivers chills. Below are a few examples:

It’s our job to evoke the emotion our fans feel for the team in the content we produce. And, that requires going beyond the scores. If teams can show what it takes to get from here to there the result is a powerful story that goes beyond the scores. It allows teams to approach both the highs and the lows and show the emotion that goes into a season.

The UGA videos don’t focus on the scores. They focus on the brand, the team’s value and what makes UGA so special. When emotion is tied to content (like this from UGA), fans are more likely to stop, care and share. That’s a win, right?



The reality is that strong video work is hard to create. In a sea of sameness, it’s not easy to stand out above the noise. Good video works requires focus and a strong point-of-view like the examples above. Whether you want to leverage design more to create engaging videos or infuse more emotion week by week,  hopefully, these four programs offer up some inspiration.

What other college football programs stand out to you from a video perspective? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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!

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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!