College Athletic Programs Vying to Be Dominant in Twitter-sphere

By: James Maddox

Twitter has been around for over seven years, and it becomes more difficult to get a competitive social edge by the day. The college athletic programs that are leading the way are mastering the art of engagement and constantly trying to push the envelope of social creativity. It’s not enough to retweet and favorite relevant news. In today’s age of social media the top programs are utilizing video (YouTube and Vine) and photo (Instagram) content as well as figuring out new ways to excite followers. Which programs are doing this the best? Thanks to the University of Tennessee we now have a clearer picture.

Recently the Tennessee athletic department posted the top college programs on Twitter in various sports on their website, utsports.com. The research is based on follower count which, although not always the most telling statistic, gives an idea of the programs that are leading the way on Twitter across several sports. Below are the top-five portions of the rankings for football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and baseball.

No. Men’s Bball Team Twitter Handle # of Followers
1 North Carolina @UNC_Basketball 128,008
2 Michigan @umichbball 69,982
3 Kansas @KUHoops 50,293
4 Michigan St. @MSU_Basketball 46,220
5 Kentucky @KentuckyMBB 36,272

 

No. Women’s Bball Team Twitter Handle # of Followers
1 Tennessee @LadyVol_Hoops 15,054
2 Kentucky @UKHoopCats 12,515
3 Baylor @BaylorWBB 9,015
4 Notre Dame @ndwbb 8,235
5 Michigan @umichwbball 6,163

 

No. Football Team Twitter Handle # of Followers
1 Michigan @umichfootball 149,382
2 LSU @LSUfball 106,182
3 Alabama @AlabamaFTBL 84,300
4 Tennessee @Vol_Football 69,003
5 Texas A&M @AggieFootball 63,117

 

After glancing at the charts compiled by the UT athletic department I decided to do some further analysis to find a way to account for all of the sports listed when it comes to the top college programs. I used a reverse-scoring system for the top-25 rankings for each of the 14 sports (25 points for the top ranked program and 1 point for the 25th ranked program). It turns out the University of Michigan has the best athletic program on social media based on followers across 14 different sports. The Wolverines earned 304 points out of a possible 350 points, followed by the Florida Gators (235 points), Texas Longhorns (224 points), Texas A&M Aggies (211 points), and LSU Tigers (204 points).

The Michigan Wolverines football team has more Twitter followers than any other team for any other sport in the NCAA at over 150,000. They post breaking news and photos from summer football camp but they also go above and beyond to be one of the best social programs. On July 2nd the Michigan football twitter account (@umichfootball) held a private VIP event for their followers. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. followers had special access to players and coaches as well as exclusive giveaways, including tickets against their rival Ohio State Buckeyes.

If you go back and look at July 2nd on the @umichfootball page you can easily see that the top ranking for Michigan football among all college football programs on Twitter is earned and not a fluke. The program interacted with hundreds of fans through the day and gave fans special access to the program. Furthermore there were trivia contests for prizes, Twitter chats with players and coaches from the football team, and exclusive videos from some of the players as well. The Wolverines made an excellent effort to cross-platform with their other social media pages. The exclusive videos were usually through their Vine account and one contest to win a pair of season tickets required followers to use Vine or Instagram to have the chance to be selected. To make the event even more special the hash tags ‘#GoBlueVIP’ and ‘#BeatOhio’ were trending worldwide, which is remarkable during the offseason.

The Florida Gators and Texas Longhorns are two other programs that utilize their Twitter accounts in excellent fashion. The Gators are arguably one of the better programs at directing followers to their website, GatorZone.com, and using video content to engage. The Longhorns have done an excellent job at using their Twitter page to get their fans pumped up about the upcoming season through a video countdown. Every day they post a new video highlighting a past Longhorn moment to celebrate the day being one day closer to kickoff.

For complete lists for the top college athletics programs on Twitter, visit http://www.utsports.com/genrel/071113aad.html.

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