35: Athletics’ Role in Brand Strategy at University of Florida w/ Bruce Floyd

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Bruce Floyd, Social Media Manager at the Florida Gators discusses the communications role that athletics can play as a part of an overall brand strategy when your athletic social accounts have twice the followers as your university’s primary pages.

We didn't have a football facebook pagebefore I got here and I made sure tha create that, and now it's I think it'sin the top ten in the country for college football, you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growthuniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network,Imericalson AVP of marketing at helics education and we're here today withBruce Floyd Social Media Manager at the flortigators Bruce welcome the show hithanks for having me super grateful that you joind us today really excitedto talk with you today about the role that university atthlecs plays is partof an overall brand strategy for an institution. But before we dig too deepinto that Bruce, can you g V the listeners a little bit betterunderstanding of both the forty gators and your role there? Well, the Floridagators is the athletic side of the University of Florida. I am the socialmedia manager here, and I would guess my job here is, as I think mostly Iwork as as an internal social media consultant for all the differentprograms, I'm the person that spends an exhaustive amount of time, keeping upwith all the changes and updates and things that happen on social, so thatinternally everyoone doesn't have to do the same thing, and I you know kind ofinform people about best practices how to optimize an that sort of thing yalso run the top level account, so anything with an apt, flordigatorsflordagators on all the various important and less important platforms.I run all of those as well awesome Bruce as a a university with a large,an vibrant sports presence. Your flordagators account has twice thefollowers as the Official University of...

Florida Acount on Facebook, forinstance. How do you see athletics roll as part of UF larger communicationstrategy? Well, it's like most cop out answers. I suppose I'm going to say itdepends yeah. We actually have a pretty good relationship and a pretty good,pretty good communications with the academic side of things. You know, Ithink, with you know, major universities, a lot a lot of times. Thedifferent units are are pretty silod. In our case, I used to actually run theacademic side of th on social media right. So I was, I started and ran thethe UF accounts and then, when I was hired over here, I still haveconnections within the university and so and plus I'm a graduate. So I'malways trying to keep up with. What's going on, I think our role, we dodefinitely have a role. I think that the university as part of their overalldesire to be thought of as one of the top universities in the country, ofcourse we are- is you know, that's reflected in ourathletic endeavors is reflected on R in our research and the the qualitystudents that we take in, and so you know when we're touting all of thosekind of successes. You know we're, certainly a part of those discussions.We have a large, obviously at a large audience, and you know we have anaudience- that's very specific and Nich as it relates to sports, and so,whenever we're considering the type of content that we post on our platforms,we have to kind of be cognizant of the type of audience that we have and notonly do we have. You know, fans that are alums and that are invested in thatway in our sports. We also have fans that are not necessary. They did'tnecessarily go to the University of Florida, but they're fans of the ofathletics, and so we have to kind of be very selective and specific about whatwe share. That said, you know because they're athletic fans, you know they'reinterested in rankings and they like success and they like to associatethemselves with success. So when...

Dr Fox and our great administration,you know manages to get us, you know recognize for being a Topton Universityand US News and world reports. That's certainly something we can tellt,because our fans certainly no rankings and if they know they know what top tenmeans, because oftentimes our you know, our sports programs are in the top ten.So that's the sort of thing that actually resonates that and also whenyou can say that you're the first you know university in the State of Floridato be in the top ten. You know oftentimes, our fans are going to usethat as a comparison to some of our instate rivals, so that helps as well.It's awesome it's awesome of Bruce. What are the primary goals Kpis of yourflortigators social channels? Are you looking to increase tudent engagement?Are you looking to increase alumni engagement? Are you actively looking toincrease ticket sales right? So it's actually attendance, I wouldn't sayticket sales because we have you know some of our sports. Obviously you knowwe sell tickets to some of them are free. It really kind of depends on thesport, but our goal is to our general goal. Obviously is to get attendanceand to have people. You know we'd love to pack the house whenever there's anevent happening here yeah. As far as what I do is concerned, I'm more on theaffinity and awareness and of things you mentioned those very specificaudiences. Now we would you know when we're trying to create awareness inaffinity. We may target those specific audiences in different ways, but but,as a general, you know, generally speaking, I'm trying to you know makesure that people have some awareness about the events that are happening.They have some awareness about what sort of what to expect when coming toan event. You know what high level high quality competition is going to happenat those events and sort of I'm working towards a tipping point so that when so,we have like, for instance, on facebook.

You know I made to be doing likeorganic posts about you know particular events, but then we also have someonehere. That's our digital Adbier, digital ad person that is dedicated tomore specifically doing direct asks through through digital ads, likefacebook, ads and so forth. So anything that I can do to kind of create newfans of our accounts. That then could be targeted and we can kind of you knowmore specifically notify them about an event. That's that's sort of how my jobworks to you know to make that happen. Awesome Bruce since you're responsiblefor covering all sports for the florigators. How do you prioritize? Youknow football and basketball attention versus some of your smaller nonrevenuegenerating sports? Well, obviously, you know football is, is going to be top ofthe heat, that's what a lot of our general fan base is excited about andinterested in. We have actually very strong fan bases for a lot of ourprograms. It amazes me the national audience that we have for our women's softball program. We have anexceptional program, that's been, you know: We've won national titles and soforth them. We, in fact, I think one of the Gamesthat they had last year was like the longest game in I think finals, history or somethinghad an incredibly large like spn audience and those other sports. Aren'tyou know it's not a challenge to tell our fans about that. They want to knowabout that. You know we're one of the ways we try and create awareness aboutall those accounts. When I started, I made sure that all the accounts hadvery specific representation on the major social media platforms. Right tome, I thought it was very important that that those Nich audiences wererepresented so that we can focus and concentrate our energies on making surethat those people that had very specifically indicated they'reinterested in you know men's tennis or softball or baseball, or you know,women's basketball that we can target...

...them more specifically and directly,and what we found is you know when we did that, for instance, we didn't havea football facebook page before I got here and I made sure t create that, andnow it's I think it's in the top ten in the country for college football, butit. What we find is that when we, you know post content to our drent generalfacebook page and then we post like say a video on our general page and a videoon a Nich page. What we seen time and time again is the the length of time that people view thevideos like when, when we aggregate that information people hang out, theywatch the videos a lot longer on those nich pages. So to me, that's just kindof a part of the proof that we have that you know we're heading in theright direction. You know we can use those pages. We can. Maybe we canproduce in post more content specifically about that program.Obviously, in those nich pages, as opposed to our facebook page, where wehave to be more selective, you know mostly specifically talking aboutfacebook. You know we're having to be more aware of our audience and whatthey respond to, and so I have to act as a curator of content. Make sure thatwe're only posting the things that we're really going to get some kind of response to. What I dohave at my disposal are some tools. That kind of, let me know whensomething is being responded to well on those nitch accounts, ihave a tool Iuse called crowd tangle and what it does is. It creates a baseline for allof our NICH accounts. So if we, for instance, on the baseball facebook page,we post something and it does four times it gets four times moreengagement than typical. I get pinged on that and then I can take a look atthat and say well of all the baseball content that we've posted on thebaseball account. If this is being responded to you know more times morethan other things than that might be something that our general fan basemight be interested in. So you know...

...it's it, some of its intuition, some ofits using tools to my advantage to kind of know what might work. You know,there's a lot of trial and error too, but Yeu know we have a broad basedathletics program, we're pretty successful across the board, and soit's my job to make sure that people are aware of. You know all of ourdifferent support accounts and our sports teams and that they get anopportunity to know about them into. You know hopefully attend one of theirevents. It's a super interesting concept. This idea that you are a largeenough institution where some of these more nich pages that a smallerinstitutions couldn't warrant or qualify having their own page. You can,and you have the team to Thos, creating content for them and then right. Thatkind of curation is a newanc to me. You're. Looking for early indicators onthe NICH pages to see what is the more mainstream content that will play welland you're, utilizing that to curate that's fascinating yeah! It'sdefinitely helpful. This is the that particular tool has been very useful.It's hard for me to to get a sense of you know each of ourindividual account pages on facebook, withand and anyone who's. Managing afacebook page knows that it's you know these the algogorithm changes and it'shard to get a sense of what is actually you know, baseline and successful forthe pages and and for me it's hard to know what an audience is going torespond to on. You know the men's basketball page versus our main page,and so I rely on those tools to kind of give me a sense of well here's what theaudience is responding to and they've seen all sorts of men's basketballcontent this one they really seem to engage with more. It doesn'tnecessarily mean I will automatically post it, but it does mean that it doeskind of notify me and give me an opportunity and it works on fifteenminute increments. So, if something heats up, I mean I've been trying toavoid the phrase going viral, because...

...people take that run with it. Sometimes higher level administration,administratoes wil go okay, we needed something to go: Vy, yeah! Okay, let mepush the viral button, but this does indicate like within youknow, five to fifteen minutes. If something is really doing exceptionallywell on a page, then it'll pay me, and I can say wow. This is really doingwell. I should probably let people know about it on the main page, or at leastI should definitely consider sharing that content. It's awesome Bruce whatare your most popular channels today from an engagement perspective and andwhat channels are you the most excited about moving forward? FROR my growth orfunctionality, perspective growth or functionality? Well, instagram actuallysurprises me, because I look at the engagement, the engagement rate ascompared to the you know our follower numbers, and it continues to be prettyhigh and that's not only our main page but across the board, with ourindividual sports instagram accounts, we just get a great, really greatengagement rate, our percentageis real high as compared to like facebooker oreven twitter, and that's even with after the introduction of theiralgorithm and their changing the feed chronology right. We, of course, havehad to kind of change our methods and what we do on on instagram because ofthe you know the change in the feed we used to be able to kind of rely on thefeed to keep things in order, and so we were, you know previously doing likehalf time scores and things like that, but now that we know that we had don'thave any control over when people see it or what Ordr they see things in yeahpe, we have to be a little bit. We have to be more conscious of that, and so,when we're putting out, you know if we're going to put out some sort ofgraphic that indicates like when an event is going to be. You know allthose details where to watch and that sort of thing we're not going to postthat like right before the thing starts, because who knows when they're going tosee it, we've also enjoyed instagram...

...stories. Thoese have been reallysuccessful. The ability to add links to to those who've been really reallyinteresting. We've gotten some really good response in terms of leadingpeople to tour our website through those linksand some of the tools that they provide like voting and that sort of thingthose are really interesting and provided additional engagement, whichyou know, is informative and useful and interesting. I just posted recentlywe've been trying something new with like a here's. What's coming up for theweekend kind of a video overview of some of the events that they can watchthis weekend either live or on television or streaming, and then we did a poll afterwards to see ifthey actually liked it an if they want to see that every week. So I don't knowwhat the results are yet because I just posted them yeah, but I'm lookingforward to seeing people watch the videos and then kind of engage and giveus a direct kind of response to what they think about it. El, going back toyour original KPI of increasing I attendance, I best can be successful.That's super exciting, Bruce Your flortygators channels and UF channelsin general are particularly known for their humor. I would argue that y'allset the high bar and Higher Ed for it. How important and how underutilized doyou believe humor is for the successful highrid social media manager? Well, Imean it's good to have a it's good to have a sense of humor. You have tolaugh or your youll cry, sometimes honestly, because there's in the sportsfield there's there, there tends to be a lot of you know, emotion and passionand oftentimes our fans and our vansobviously are very passionate and our rivals are also very passionate. I'musing sort of guarded words here, so it's good to have a sense of humor. Ithink it's also important to to provide a sense of humor so that maybe we canin tern provide some perspective on things. You know it is just sport. It'ssupposed to be it's a game. It's supposed to be fun, so we trying tointerject some of that, so people get a...

...sense of that. You know that that it'sfun, you know adding as a practical matter. We like to you, know, introduceour student athletes and their personalities and senses of humor andthat sort of thing on our channels as well, because you know it's veryimportant that we humanize of them so that our fans wouth it will empathize.Whenever there's a defeat, you know- or you know I we show case thepersonalities of our individual athletes- we're getting back again tothat tipping point. Maybe that's the thing that makes people say: Okay, youknow what I I have to go see this. This lie because these these stuent athletesseem very you know, interesting or funnior fool yeah. You know that sortof thing. You know a lot of these athletes, they have a person, peopledon't realize they have these lives outside of sport, and you know whenthey see them on the field. You know they're wearing helmet and you don'treally see them and they're wearing shoulder pads, and you know it sort ofturns them into a different being to a certain degree and it's nice to get thepads off and it's noice to get the helmet off and the show hey. These guysare really interesting and they're funny, and you know they have greatpersonalities, and you know they have interest outside of their sports, andyou know that sort of thing is really interesting to me. I like to get toknow the stuent athletes and I feel, like our fans, should have theopportunity- and I think it's our responsibility- to use these platforms to do that soyeah I mean humor is super important to me. It's another creative outlet. It'sanother opportunity to have fun with the fans you have to. You have to useit sparingly. You know sometimes it's not well received and hey also have tohave a pretty thick skin, because sometimes you know you try stuff and itdoesn't go over well, and I don't know if you've been on twitter lately, butnot everybody ntthe most tactful about the way they respond to you, and so youknow, I think, using humor to kind of let people know that there's actuallyhuman beings behind the accounts is helpful as well doesn't always work,but I try...

...bruce such good stuff thanks. So muchfor sharing your thoughts today. What is the best place for listeners toconnect with you if they have any folop questions? Well, I'm constantly ontwitter I'm easy to find at Bruce Floyd you're welcome to tweet at me just sayhello. Let me know you heard h. The podcast tell me to tell me what youthought and happy to happy to chat with you awesomethanks against so much for joining Os Torday Bruce thanks attracting today'snew post. Traditional learners means adopting new enrolmant strategies.Keeliks educations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrollmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helex has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing enromant growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helocks, Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromat growthuniversity from helics education to ensure that you never miss an episodesubscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you somuch for listening until next time.

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