One of the hardest (and probably most unrealistic) questions to answer for a social media manager is the infamous “What’s going to go viral?” It’s nearly impossible to know what’s going to be the next big thing, or going to get the 1,000 RTs/shares you always want from your page. Most of the time, when you’re posting about your brand using specific messaging, going viral isn’t the goal anyways; you want to focus on great, thoughtful content. There are, however, those special moments in which social media managers can capitalize on if you have a plan, the resources, and a willingness to let it ride. Here is a look at how the Hurricanes digital crew tried to capture the best of a moment we dubbed “The Return.”
Quick set up: The Canes had just come off the worst loss in football in school history, we fired our head football coach, a football player’s mom had suddenly passed and we had to go on the road and try to beat No. 24th ranked Duke. Needless to say, the demeanor wasn’t the best around the office.
Knowing you cannot predict the viral future, make sure you’re ready to go with a plan anyways.
Every week the digital squad sits down to discuss what we’re going to do for the week, specifically for football game days. Football game day is always our big day for engagement and knowing that, we strive to plan, produce, and then execute content. In this particular situation we knew if we won, it would be our interim head coach’s first win so we planned a graphic. We also planned our in-game .gifs, and the normal in-game scoring graphics.
We went into the game with our plan and tried to execute it.
We really like .gifs, so when we score (which we think is a momentous occasion for any team) we usually hit our fans with a .gif as things transpire real time and then a scoring graphic that a graphic designer sends to us as soon as possible. We also always have a recap graphic (if we win…) that goes out at the end of the game. However, as things started getting dicey, we actually didn’t know what to do, so we just started putting out what we were feeling which ended up being easier to post, and had decent engagement. After an incredibly wild play, the Canes won and it was time to ride the wave.
You’ve got a moment, now blow it out of the water.
We’re lucky enough to have two really talented graphic designers. While one was working on scoring graphics, “digital swag” like cover photos, 2×1 website graphics, etc. we asked our other designer to work on another “special” recap graphic. Knowing our fans (and hopefully college football fans) would consume anything about this, we threw it all out on social as you can see here, here and here. We were limited due to the game being away, however, having two folks available to push content out was a huge help, so if you can swing it, get some extra help for special events. Once we received “The Return” graphic, we knew we were set for the evening.
Ride that wave as long as you can.
— Miami Hurricanes (@MiamiHurricanes) November 1, 2015
We decided as the digital crew to ride this wave as long as we were able to. A piece of that wave was responding to the statement made by the Atlantic Coast Conference about “The Return.” We knew we wanted to respond to this, especially because we felt like it was ‘us vs the world’ after this happened, so a very quick discussion occurred, people said yes, and the boss pushed the button.
Using the attention and momentum we had continued to stir, we wanted to push the envelope with content. The following week we pushed tickets to our next game, continued to post about the play from angles we didn’t have the evening before like our Spanish radio call, photos we had received overnight, a cinematic highlight (which normally comes out after a win), a curated twitter timeline, and a commemorative t-shirt. While folks who might not have been fans of the outcome or The U were annoyed, we felt like we were on brand, stayed within our bounds, and continued to feed our fans with the content they wanted. We wanted to continue to push content out that would expand the conversation and give a diverse look at a play that was cemented in our history, hopefully that was accomplished.
Write up by IMG College: Hurricanes Seize The Moment
Riding this wave wouldn’t have been possible without the huge team effort from the digital/communications staff that contributed in some way or another, those folks include Brian Bowsher, Cat Gutierrez, KC Hahey, Camron Ghorbi, Leo Ramos, and Kyle Stopperan.