Social Media Analytics Help Athletics Marketers Score Big With Fans

How Preseason Marketing Strategies Translate into Winning Seasons

The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma football teams are historic rivals who compete in the Cotton Bowl at the Texas State Fair each year. Like many other university football teams, they are also competing off the field as they fight to earn fan loyalty, ticket sales, merchandise purchases, and television viewers. In 2014, the off-the-field competition began on August 30th when each team hosted their home opener. While the Texas Longhorns hosted North Texas at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium, the Oklahoma Sooners met Louisiana Tech at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. In addition to players and coaches preparing for plenty of touchdowns on opening day, athletic marketers were busy strategizing for a strong opening that would serve as a preview to a winning season.

University athletics Twitter accounts took to the web to promote the opener football games throughout the month of August. Texas Longhorns inspired 12.4k Tweets and Oklahoma Sooners over 15.4k Tweets. Spikes can be seen in both conversation when topics and authors gain momentum with popular Tweets. When looking at the Twitter conversation that occurred on game day, Oklahoma (2.4k) outweighed Texas (1.5k), with plenty of fans discussing each team’s performance.
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The conversation leading up to both universities’ opener games was positive. Influential contributors to the preseason conversation were football team’s official Twitter accounts. Tweets authored by @Longhorn_FB and @OU_Football contributed to anticipation for the first game of the season and provided useful information, multimedia, and stats for the upcoming season. Highly retweeted Tweets highlight the information that fans found most important and wanted to share with their social networks.
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Looking specifically at August 30th, positive sentiment increased for both teams. While athletics marketers used social media to promote the game and keep fans informed on game day, fans also drew from their own experiences. Many of the Tweets highlight their team spirit and love of college football as they discuss watching the game.
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During preseason and the home opener, University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma share many of the same audience characteristics that appear across college football audiences. Both audiences are predominantly made up of men and Twitter users who fell into the 18-24 age bracket. Interestingly, Texas was home to 75% of the Longhorns Tweets authored in August as well as 12% of Oklahoma Sooner Tweets.
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The University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma audiences also share many common interests. They are both interested in a wide range of sports including basketball, baseball, soccer, and football as well as sports coverage like ESPN and Sportscenter. The interests that distinguish the two audiences are related to local universities and cities. While the University of Texas audience is 14 times more interested in the Texas Longhorns and Texas State University, the University of Oklahoma audience is 95 times more interested in the University of Oklahoma, 44 times more interested in Oklahoma Baptist University, and 38 times more interested in Oklahoma State University.
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Both the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma generated positive conversation during preseason and their home openers. Tweets from top influencers like coaches, athletes, and team accounts help boost engagement and enthusiasm during preseason. With their help, athletics marketers can use social media analytics to increase their ROI by strategically boosting engagement during preseason and game day. Benefits like increasing followers, spreading information, and maximizing involvement on game day can then be converted into a winning season.
For more information about the value of pre-season and fall football openers, ready the entire case study here.


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