Right now, Cal Athletics has a fairly haphazard New Media presence. They have a website, which is great. It has official previews and official recaps. They have individual calendars for each sport, but no global easy to read calendar. Fans cannot really interact much with the site, which is increasingly becoming more central to any new media policy. Sometimes they have chats over there, like for some softball games.
However, we here at CGB have a few thoughts on how Cal Athletics can really improve its new media presence, taking further advantage of social media. Some people might scoff at this, saying its all a bunch of new fangled hooey and that I need to pull up my pants and turn my hat around. However, by following some of the ideas herein, we feel that Cal Athletics can help bring Cal Athletics to more fans. This is especially true for some of the non-revenue sports that won't be on TV as often as, say, football or basketball. Even with the Pac-12 channel rolling in sometime soon, not everybody will have access to it.
Further, games are often times during the middle of work. There are so many things tugging at our attention right now, Cal needs to do what it can to get into that cornucopia of squawkers and squealers vying for our page views. They can't just passively sit back and hope that fans come to them. More than ever, they have to aggressively court fans to come to follow Cal on a variety of social media sites and then provide those fans with information that can't be found elsewhere.
Following some of the suggestions in here could potentially help increase revenues as donors are turned on to the pleasing panoply of awesomeness that is Cal Athletics! I do not write this to criticize Cal Athletics as everybody is still figuring out their way with the new media. There are fortunes to be made, though, if it can be done right. While Cal Athletics is doing some things great, there isn't a sense that it's truly organized centrally. So, please join me after the jump to take a look at some key new media sites that Cal Athletics should more fully utilize to help grow its donor base. GO BEARS!
First and foremost, I think the easiest way to bring the games to the fans is to better utilize Twitter. Cal Athletics has sort of a haphazard presence on Twitter right now. Some teams have a Twitter account. Rugby has a great account that provides scoring updates. Some teams don't have a Twitter account. Baseball (!!!!!!!!!!) doesn't even have an account.
Some coaches have Twitter accounts. Women's basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb is currently crushing it along with her assistant coaches Daron Park and Kai Felton. They are funny and inviting and often send photos of delicious cupcakes.
Coach Jack Clark doesn't have a Twitter. Of course, this is probably for the better. Jack Clark is too busy cutting down redwoods with his own hands and causing bread to toast merely by glaring at it to be twittering.
As for student-athletes, some do and some don't.
As you can see, there isn't a really organized way that information on Cal Athletics is disseminated via Twitter. Let's take them in reverse order of importance, in my view:
1. Student-athletes. I do not believe that Cal Athletics should have any control over whether any particular student-athlete has Twitter or what they say. As long as they follow all NCAA guidelines and aren't sending out inappropriate information, then I think they should be able to do what they want with Twitter. Period.
2. Coaches. Not every head coach is going to want to Tweet. Certainly, everybody is very busy. However, like I said, the WBB coaches are creating a fun and inviting atmosphere watching their Tweets. The more you make the fans feel emotionally invested in your team, the more fans you will have. If they see cool tweets on the coaches and get to know them a bit more personally (as personally as one can get through this sort of one way medium), then people will be more interested in following the team.
Perhaps each team should try to have at least one asst Coach tweeting out cool little bon mots about the team. "Here's a photo of the team stretching before practice." "Here are the boys getting iced up after the big win! All smiles!" "Up at 6 AM for practice, grueling, but champions push through."
These might seem like small things, but for many, many, many fans they know very, VERY little about a lot of non-revenue sports. Personalizing the teams and athletes to the fans can help bring in more fans. This is especially true if a funny video or photo goes viral. For example, here is a funny music video that the men's soccer team put together:
It has over 400,000 hits. It is put up by former Cal soccer player Davis Paul. The information in the video references several player's Twitter accounts, which is great. But if it also had info on an official Men's Soccer Twitter and was sent out by the official Men's Soccer Twitter, then it'd help "herd the cats" over to the official Men's Soccer Twitter, which will pay many dividends down the path.
That brings me to the 3rd and most important subject, official Team Twitters
3. Every Cal team really, really, really, really, really, REALLY needs to have its own Twitter. I mean REALLY! I cannot stress that enough! Twitter is one of the best ways to provide information nowadays. Whether its updates on riots in the Middle East, locations of food trucks in the Mission, or whatever, it is perfect for disseminating information.
A lot of Cal sports teams have problems disseminating information. People don't know when the games are. People can't watch the games, because they are either not on TV or on a channel they don't get or during the workday. So, that's bad, otherwise known as the opposite of good.
If each Cal team had its own Twitter and used that to essentially do play by play or inning by inning or score by score, then that'd help disseminate that information. The interest is there. People who know very little about the team will stop what they are doing and focus on Cal sports, if there is a way to do it.
Let's say baseball is taking on USC on a Friday afternoon game. When the Pac-12 channel comes in, it may be on TV, but who knows? Otherwise, the chance of it being on TV are almost non-existent. That means no streams. You can listen to it on KALX, but people at work often times can't turn on a baseball broadcast in the middle of their work day.
So, people start following the Cal baseball twitter. Every scoring play, end of half inning, or other notable play (like thrown out at home or coach ejected) Cal baseball sends out a tweet. Cal fans unable to follow the games through other means now have an easy way to follow the game. They can even follow it on their phone! This is an absolute base minimum, in my view!
Some sports work better than others. Obviously, there would be more tweets in sports like baseball or softball than soccer. For soccer, it might be just updates every 10 game minutes or so, along with scoring plays or other notable plays. Giving fans an opportunity to follow the game in real time, something which doesn't exist right now for SO many Cal sports will increase interest. Plus, you can tweet out pics of the game as it occurs, so people have an idea as to things. "Here is a photo of Dixon Anderson throwing a pitch on this foggy day." "Here, you can see Alex Morgan celebrating after her goal, just a few moments ago!"
Then, they need to synchronize the Cal Bears website and Twitter's. Here at CGB, whenever we are writing a post (as I am doing right now!), we have a functionality to send the post directly to our official Twitter account. We write up a little bit of text and the SBNation functionality creates its own tiny url for the link. Then, when the post goes live it automatically goes to our Twitter account. This is probably something that can be done for all CalBears.com stories.
So, let's say that Cal volleyball is going to take on Arizona. CalBears.com writes up the preview story: "Look for Arizona to do this and Cal to do that." It goes live at CalBears.com and a tweet is immediately sent down the official Cal volleyball Twitter account with a link. "Read more about the Cal-Arizona volleyball game today at 7 PM URL." Something like that!
Then, when the game starts the Play By Play kicks in as I described above. Then, afterwards, CalBears.com writes up a review of the game, again sending it down twitter. "Cal defeats Arizona! Carli Lloyd has great game! URL."
So, now you've teased the fans with the preview, provided the goods with the real time information dissemination about the game for those who cannot receive the information easily elsewise, and then put on that nice little bow at the end with review! Plus, you've synergized (ugh, bad word that) between CalBears.com and Twitter.
By following this plan, I believe that Cal Athletics can increase interest in its sports and provide a better service to its fan who can't make it out to the games or otherwise see the games. There are a few other aspects to this, however.
Facebook is slightly different. It's not as good for quick hitting information dissemination. Further, people aren't too pleased if you clog up their newsfeed with many, many quick status updates. How can they see how their friend's Farmvilles are doing?!?!?!
So, I'd simplify things a bit there. In my view, each team should have its own page. Then, when the story goes up on CalBears.com, it is also sent to the Facebook page (we again have a functionality here that does this, although we eschew it for another means, but that's not a major story really). Then, instead of having play by play, when the game gets closer, a post promoting the play by play on the Twitter. "Cal and Oregon are about to face off in softball. Go to @CalSoftball to follow this key game. URL" Then, when the review story goes up on CalBears.com again it is sent out to the Facebook page.
You might think this is overkill. But like I said there is a cacophony of entertainment options screaming (in some cases literally) at us these days. Cal needs to up its game in information dissemination. Not just via the passive CalBears.com, but also bringing the stories to the fans. People want info to come to them these days. You can't just put up your story and hope that people come to it.
We'll talk more soon about other New Media aspects, such as streaming video. There is a lot more to delve into, but this is as great a place as any to stop. Keep an eye out for part II, coming soon! What are your thoughts? How should Cal utilize its New Media? GO BEARS!