Blog: Farewell to Athletics .... Conversation

How is the pandemic affecting your brand? What strategic pivots has your team made?

By The Campus Sonar Team

Everything you do is based on how you define your brand. One of the biggest drivers we see for a campus’s brand is athletics. In our 2019 Online Conversation Benchmarks for Higher Education report, we found that campuses with athletics programs averaged 55% of their total online conversation from athletics-related topics. 

One of the many changes this year includes campus athletics. What’s replacing that conversation on your campus? How are you promoting your brand without one of your major brand topics and pillars—school spirit and athletics?

How Arkansas Tech University Used Social Data to Pivot

A snapshot we did for Arkansas Tech University (ATU) in summer 2020 had the most athletics conversation we’ve ever seen—almost two-thirds of their total conversation volume for the 2019–2020 academic year. Looking only at their non-athletic conversation, ATU's peers put out a considerable amount more, so they realized it was critical to develop messaging that would increase their non-athletic conversation.

Director of Marketing and Communications Carrie Phillips’s solution was to focus on ATU’s connection to service, one of their institutional pillars. Service is a priority for their student athletes, one they’ve won national recognition for with back-to-back service awards for NCAA Division II schools.

Athletes at Arkansas Tech University. A basketball player stands next to a cheerleader, who stands next to another person wearing an athletics shirt.

“The social listening snapshot from Campus Sonar was incredibly helpful to Arkansas Tech University. It helped us understand how to use areas where there was already significant social conversation to tell our brand message,” Carrie said. One of their key messages is service—the idea that ATU students care about and support each other and the community. “Our student athletes are the epitome of that through their continual efforts to serve the community. The snapshot helped us realize we could utilize their great work off the court to show what makes Arkansas Tech special. It’s a strategy that will serve us well long after regular play resumes."

She shared an example from the ATU softball team who recorded videos reading some of their favorite children’s books and made them available for local school districts to use with students during quarantine.

Keeping a pulse on your social conversation helps you understand how current events affect your brand and gives you direction on strategic pivots you might need to make. If you need help getting these metrics, we can get you started with a basic social listening snapshot.