With March Madness officially underway, fans across the country are gearing up for their team’s debut in the big dance. Over the years, the college basketball faithful have shown their allegiance through a wide array of displays. Whether it be donning a full ensemble of team garb or pouring hours into the creation of a cheeky, “sure-to-catch-the-camera” banner, for decades fans everywhere have been making their team pride known.
With social media now thoroughly embedded in the college basketball experience, instant access to your team’s culture through photos, video, and up-to-the second event updates has revolutionized the fan experience by bringing you closer to the teams you love. Few have done this better than the Butler Bulldogs. Allow me to introduce you to Blue II, Butler University’s ever-popular bulldog mascot.
This loveable pooch boasts an impressive 12,000 Twitter followers, and doesn't shy away from a photo opportunity. It’s not just about the “adorable animal photos” factor, however. Blue II’s social media presence is dynamic, engaging, and addictive, and offers some valuable lessons for social media marketers across industries. So let’s sit back and let Blue II lend a hand…or paw…to our social media marketing strategies with these six tips!
1. Share Exclusive Offers and Discounts
Gaining and retaining an engaged base of followers is about more than just entertaining your audience with a constant stream of photos and quips – you need to give your audience a reason to follow you. One way to do this is by establishing your Twitter feed as a place where followers can gain access to exclusive offers and discounts, like these two examples that Blue II shared with his followers:
2. Run a Contest
Similar to sharing offers and discounts with your followers, another effective way to generate engagement is through a contest. For example, this haiku contest is currently running in honor of Blue II’s upcoming retirement (yes, you read that correctly, retirement— more on this in tip number three). Before launching a social media contest, here are a few key things to consider:
Define the goals for the contest
Select a relevant prize
Outline a promotion plan for your contest
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with contest rules and guidelines for Twitter and Facebook to ensure that your contest complies with their requirements, and ultimately save yourself from the hassle of having to cancel your contest due to infringement.
3. Promote Live Events
Using social media channels to promote your organization’s live events is an excellent way to generate buzz for your events across a wide audience. As mentioned briefly above, at the conclusion of this academic year, Blue II will be retiring from his post as Butler’s beloved mascot. But fear not! He has been actively grooming his replacement in Blue III, affectionately known as “Trip.”
Now, you had to assume that a dog with some 12,000 Twitter followers wouldn’t miss the opportunity to go out on a high note. Blue II didn’t disappoint as he took to Twitter to promote an event called the Changing of the Collar ceremony. With a series of Tweets, Blue II not only spread the word about the event, but also elicited an outpouring of retirement well-wishes from adoring fans, resulting in a boost in Twitter engagement.
While promoting live events via social channels is an effective way to reach a global audience, keep in mind that not all the followers who learn of your event will actually be able to attend. Make sure to keep them included by posting photos from the occassion like the one below from the Changing of the Collar ceremony.
Live tweeting from your event is also another option for engaging a global audience. Create a hashtag for the occasion and encourage your followers to join the conversation. Both live tweeting and posting photos will help extend the reach and life of the event .
4. Offer a Glimpse of Day-to-Day Culture
Remember that behind every social profile lies a human, so make them feel like insiders by offering glimpses of your organization’s day-to-day culture. Authentic photos like the one below help your followers build a genuine connection with your brand.
5. Take the Show on the Road
If your organization has the resources to conduct a city tour to promote your brand, take the show on the road and use your social media presence to engage followers along the way! This year, Blue II and Trip have been traveling around the country meeting fans as part of the Big Dawgs Tour.
What makes their tour such a valuable social media marketing campaign is their dedication to logging the tour’s activities with photos of Blue II and Trip at popular landmarks, along with recaps of the day’s events, all organized under the hashtag #BigDawgsTour. As you’re sharing updates from your tour, also remember to be responsive to your followers while you’re on the road, and encourage them to join you at the tour’s next stop.
6. Incorporate Video
It’s no secret that video is a top marketing trend of 2013, so finding ways to incorporate video into your social media marketing strategy is essential to the overall success of your campaigns. Video can serve as a way to entertain and extend the life of your live events, as Blue II did by publishing this video of the Changing of the Collar ceremony to YouTube.
The power of video extends beyond just entertaining your followers, however, as marketers use video both to educate and sell. With over 100 million Americans watching online video each day, don’t miss this opportunity to get your message heard.
Whether your organization is large or small, keep these tips in mind as you’re planning your next social media marketing campaigns. Be authentic, engage your followers and harness the power of visual media, and you may one day follow in the paw prints of the great Blue II!
Image Credit: @ButlerBlue2