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Staying Stalwart: Social Strategy for the Ultimate Rivalry Game

It’s the first and game of the season. Fans are pumped that football is back. It’s also the annual rivalry game where the victor gets bragging rights for the next year.

For Colorado State, the ultimate rivalry game is the Rocky Mountain Showdown. It’s where our CSU Rams meet the University of Colorado Buffaloes on the gridiron. Last year the Rams lost this game in a heart-breaking overtime loss and are ready for revenge. Needless to say, fans are HYPED for the game.

From a social media perspective, we pull out the stops to capitalize on the fan craze leading up to the game. If there is one thing that unites Rams, it’s the universal sentiment that we must CRUSH the CU Buffs on the football field. It’s tradition. But, it hasn’t been easy for our Rams. We’re often the underdog, which makes the fiery passion to win all the more heated.

To take advantage of the excitement and momentum leading into the Showdown, we strategically planned content the week leading up to the rivalry game to rally our Rams fans.

Ultimate Rams Fan

We kicked things off with our 5th annual Ultimate Rams Fan drawing where fans share photos showing themselves decked out in Green and Gold for a shot to win a $100 gift card to the CSU Bookstore (to buy more Ram gear, naturally).

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Fans submitted photos on Facebook via the comments and on Instagram and Twitter using #UltimateRamsFan. This year we had about 60 entries and this lucky Ram was crowned the 2016 Ultimate Rams Fan.

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Green Out Your Facebook Profile

Our Web team developed a custom Facebook app that enabled users to add a green filter over their profile image, like this:

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We encouraged our Facebook fans to show their Ram Pride by “greening out” their profile pics. More than 4,000 fans helped us paint Facebook green. It was pretty cool!

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CAM the Ram

There’s no way we could let the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown go by without incorporating our beloved mascot, CAM the Ram.

Annual Grill the Buffs pep rally for students right before the Rocky Mountain Showdown. This Instagram is now CSU's No. 1 most-liked Instagram.

Annual Grill the Buffs pep rally for students right before the Rocky Mountain Showdown. This Instagram is now CSU’s No. 1 most-liked Instagram (taken by yours truly!).

 2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown marked CAM the Ram XXV's debut appearance as CSU's official mascot.

2015 Rocky Mountain Showdown marked CAM the Ram XXV’s debut appearance as CSU’s official mascot.

How to Rocky Mountain Showdown

My team was itching to do some sort of video for the Rocky Mountain Showdown to pump up our fans, no matter if they were cheering on the Rams from the stands or their couches.

“How to Rocky Mountain Showdown” depicted traditions surrounding the game and Rams football culture. Mixing in some great on-camera talent from the CSU Marching Band, a terrific alum, and CAM the Ram made this CSU Social video a hit. The Denver Post even wrote about it. Watch it HERE.

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 Gameday Wardrobe

Because you gotta know what to wear for the big game.

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Rams Take Care of Rams

Attending the Rocky Mountain Showdown is a Green and Gold tradition. Thousands of students and alums attend each year. Without sounding too preachy, we did share this message specifically targeted to students with the intention that the University is encouraging them to make good decisions and be safe while they cheer on the Rams. We shared this post on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram where the majority of our audience is current students.

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Rams Map

We know that Rams fans live all around the world… so why not ask them to tell us where they were cheering on the team? We were blown away with the response. We had more than 630 Rams fans from all 50 states and countries around the world show their Ram Pride by commenting on this post. This post was also a good way for us to share with fans where to watch the game on TV.

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Rocky Mountain Showdown Gameday

We felt really good going into game from a social media perspective. Fans were hyped, engaged and using our hashtags #CSURams #GoRams #BeatTheBuffs. On the actual day of the Showdown, we upped our Twitter game because it’s a prime channel to cover Athletics events and many of our die-hard Rams fans are on Twitter and regularly interact with us. From the stadium we were live Tweeting, Snapchatting, Instagramming and Instagram Live-ing the tailgate scene. We also gave our fans on Instagram Live and Snapchat an inside look at the sidelines from the field.
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For Snapchat, we did design a special on-demand geofilter that ran during the Rams tailgate leading up to kickoff. Our pre-game/tailgate Snapchat content featured Rams fans sharing their final score predictions and singing the fight song.

Like I said, we we’re operating on all cylinders from a social media perspective. And it felt good.

Then the game started.

And it all changed.

Shifting Strategy

CU’s opening drive led to a touchdown and before we knew it, we we’re down 0-14 and we still had much the first quarter to go.

But then it got worse.

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Double. Ugh. What’s a social media team to do?

Fans in the stands and online were NOT happy. And who could blame them? Our Rams were not looking so hot. Instead of trying to showcase live action on the field, we called an audible and decided to pull back our coverage and wait until halftime to showcase the Marching Band. Hopefully we could rally fans (and the team) for a strong second half.

The band delivered! Along the sidelines we came across two former Ram football players who are now Super Bowl Champs with the Denver Broncos just chillin’ with CAM the Ram.

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The Rams did manage to get points on the board. And we were there to capture the touchdown for Vine. But unfortunately it just didn’t get any better for our team.

 

We sadly ended up losing the 2016 Rocky Mountain Showdown, 44-7. But, there is plenty of season to go and so many reason to be proud CSU Rams fans.

What We Learned

– Solid idea to get lots of pre-game content in so that you can capitalize on the excitement and tradition of the game… no matter the outcome ✔️

– It’s okay to pull back on live social media coverage when your team is not performing the way you know they want to ✔️

– Despite a rough loss, top off live coverage with a message that we’ll resonant with fans ✔️

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We’ll get ‘em next year 🏈