Social Rewards or game day rewards seem to be the buzzwords around college athletics at the moment.  In fact, they have probably been the buzzwords for the last year.   Fans are social, they want rewards, and it all seems simple enough.  

When I was in grad school at Ohio University, I was forced to talk about my undergrad alma mater often.  Forced, is probably not the correct word.  Turns out I do not mind talking about Texas A&M.  Specifically, I was always asked to talk about was 12th Man Rewards.  I was a season ticket holder at TAMU for one season.  Before that, I had relatives who had tickets and went to a lot of games.  12th Man Rewards was not the reason they went to games, but they participated anyway.  When my aunt would give me tickets to a soccer or baseball game on campus, they would also come with her 12th Man Rewards card so it could be swiped when I walked into the game.  She always tallied a lot of points and got quite a few prizes. 

This is the model that college athletics is attempting to copy.  Incentivize people to come to the game through arbitrary points for different swag.  It works for some but is not always as successful for others.  What often gets missed in these discussions is the uniqueness of TAMU.  The fans at that school are going to games regardless of the rewards.   As a student, you went to sporting events or you sat in your dorm by yourself, but rewards do help.  Being one more game away from a cool jacket will get the fan out to softball game on a rainy spring day. 

Not all rewards programs are created equal.  Every fan base is similar, but there are always characteristics that differentiate them a little bit.  Which is why, even though there is a lot of copying in athletics it never works the same as it did for the other guys.  You have to understand your fans.  Figure out what their habits are and how they enjoy a game.  Do they have their phone in their hand the entire time?  Do they use apps to follow the game?  Are they on twitter throughout the process?  What is the age demographic? Does your infrastructure have what it takes to handle 30,000 people on the phone at once?  Will they download apps or would they rather visit a website through the browser?

Understanding your fans behavior will help you pick the right way to reward them.  Fans in there fifties may be on Twitter, but they don’t want to have to deal with their phone throughout the game.  If they use the phone, it will be once or twice but probably not to tweet out their experience.  Younger fans are more likely to be on their phone throughout the game.  

The end goal, regardless of your fan base, is most likely to get people into the stadium and enjoying the game.   Requiring a check-in at the game is a quick process and can be done many ways.   A small booth outside the stadium can get fans into the habit of doing it every game.  Texas A&M was great about this.  The same people worked the rewards booth at most games and the fans got to know a familiar face.  It was more like they were greeting a friend at the game, not someone from the marketing staff.  With the advent of smart phones, that process became even easier.  Native apps on a phone have a major advantage in this arena.  The phone can tell the app where the user is and if it is close enough to the stadium, they only have to click a button to check in.  It can be done at any point and from anywhere in the stadium.  It is minimally invasive and is simple enough it can become a part of their game day habits. This is something that is more difficult to do on a website.  Even if fans have a smart phone or mobile device that could visit the site during the game it becomes much harder to know their location.  HTML5 can be used to get a general location, but if your campus is close enough together, you will not be able to tell if they are in the stadium or driving by.  It all comes down to knowing your fans and their habits.  How can you become a part of that habit?

Another option for social rewards is to reward for social media activity.  It can give you hundreds more for your marketing staff and helps spread the word.  This can be a great way to incentivize fans into pushing your message for your team.  Websites and apps can be built to track fans social activities and reward them points.  If your fans prove time and again that they are Twitter 24/7 then this could be the best way to go.  However, it does little to get people to the game.  Fans don’t need to be there to win; they can win every prize you offer from the comfort of their living room with the HD TV showing every angle of the game.  One of the biggest issues I see with this type of rewards system is that three or four people can easily dominate.  Some people are just more active on Twitter than others.  Those that are active can quickly rack up enough points to discourage others from playing.  If you are late to the game (rewards program) and you see that first place already has 1,000,000 points, it is very easy to get discouraged.  Why participate in something they will have no chance of winning?  Yes, there are other prizes you can still win, but when you come to the site everyday you are reminded you can not ever be in first, it is discouraging.  

My rambling has a point, I promise….

It comes down to understanding your fans and keeping YOUR goals in mind.  Understanding what they want and need out of a rewards program will help you achieve your goals.  Are you trying to increase your attendance or just the amount of people tweeting about you?  How will you measure your success in the end?  It starts with researching and understanding your fans.  You have to know what makes them tick and what really gets them excited.  

At Old Hat Creative we are always talking about how many people in our office used to work in an office like you.  We were apart of those marketing meetings trying to figure out what makes fans go.  We have had experienced the ups and downs of failed rewards programs.  Now, we are here to help you.  We want to get to know your fans as well as you do.  We want to figure out what will get them to the game and then offer a solution that will help you achieve that goal. We have done rewards websites and we have done rewards apps, each to varying degrees of success.  One way or another, we want to help you figure it out, help you become the school that the next buzzword is written about. 

You know…NACMA! 

This year, we're doing it bigger and better so let us show you how we "Amplify the Sports Experience" at our booth, #427. In March, Old Hat launched a divisional rebrand; six divisions under one umbrella. We've always been six divisions, but now it's time for us to tell you our story through our 'hands-on' solutions catalog. This year's catalog features marketing campaigns for clients we visited on campus, creating a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience including: the 12th Man Foundation, Cincinnati, Duke, WAC, Xavier, Martin Methodist, South Carolina, Akron and Miami. Whether you're interested in capture and productions, branding and print design or interactive and consulting, we've created a six step process to show you how each division of Old Hat will work with your department. 

On Thursday, June 13th, Old Hat will be hosting Thirsty Poolside Thursday at the Falls Pool Bar located at the Orlando World Resort. All are welcome but do you want to win a free drink? We'll be posting and hosting challenges via social media and at our booth from Tuesday through Thursday. 

During the travel days (Wednesday and Thursday) you can compete in our social media challenges by following @OldHatCreative and #OHAMPLIFY. The top 5 from each category will win a drink on Old Hat! Travel day challenges include:

1. People watching! It's addicting and the airport is the perfect place to do it. Find something that should NOT be amplified, snap a photo using Instagram and post to Twitter using #OHAMPLIFY. 

2. Jam out to your favorite song! Vine yourself bursting out the lyrics and post to Twitter using #OHAMPLIFY. 

3. CANNONBALL! Relaxing by the pool before heading into mad learning sessions at NACMA? Have someone snap a photo of you doing a cannonball, or any other type of splash, and post to Twitter using #OHAMPLIFY.

4. Road trip! Are you taking the road less traveled to Orlando? Aaron, Bethany, Hannah and Kelby are making the drive from Norman to Orlando starting on Tuesday and ending on Sunday. If you want to know, it's a 20 hour drive… one way! Give the crew something to laugh at by sharing your road trip photos on Twitter using #OHAMPLIFY. After all, you may need one after a long drive.

You can also win a drink ticket at our booth! Not only will the first 100 people to visit our booth #427 receive an official Old Hat University, home of the Fighting Gnomes t-shirt, but you can compete in challenges to win a cold one on us! Think you can eat more M&M's than we did for Michigan's 900th win? Can you run your hands through your hair better than Robert? Can you do a handstand with Hannah? If so, we'll see you on Thursday night with a drink on us!

This past Memorial Day Weekend I flew home to Louisville to visit family and friends. While in town I took part in a few of my favorite things: catching a Louisville Bats game, trying new restaurants (something new always pops up while I am gone), going for run in St. Matthews with my sister, family cookouts and much more.

(My sister and I at Drakes Restaurant.)

While home, we celebrated my birthday and a gift from the parents was the iPhone 5! The functionality of this phone is great, especially for social media. It's much easier for me to switch accounts on apps from personal to Old Hat Creative and much easier to post to different accounts. 

Today, Zac, Hannah, Dustin and Aaron are at SMU taking photos for their 2013 football campaign. Hannah has been sending me some great photos of the fans and the team so we'll be posting them on our Instagram and Twitter account all day. Check out the photos by clicking here.

My mom could breathe easier after she received that text from me. 

Monday, May 20, 2013 is a day I will forever remember. I was at work, and happy to already be there because whenever there is a bad storm coming, we go to the office.  Our building is safe and has a basement.  

As the afternoon approached, everyone around the office was following the weather on the local news stations and various social media outlets.  We went along with our workday as usual and occasionally stopped to check the weather.   All of a sudden, we lost the TV signal.  Next, we lost our phone connections, both landlines and cell service.  Finally, we realized the Internet was out too.  We had no way of really knowing what was happening only 10 miles north of us in Moore.  Some of our Old Hatters live in Moore and have family in the surrounding areas.  It was difficult to reach out to them to find out exactly where the tornado hit and if everyone was okay.  

Slowly, texts started to go through, but calls still would not.  However, we were able to use our smart phones to track the radar and receive social media updates that way.  

Not sure about everyone else, but at least for me, my cable and Internet did not come back until after 9 pm.  My roommate and I spent four hours switching through the local news stations’ live streams on my phone.  We also kept up with photos and videos that emerged through Facebook and Twitter.  

One of the most astounding tweets I came across was a report that people were using social media to ask for help to be dug out from rubble.  Excuse me?  Social media saved some lives yesterday.  Victims that might not have otherwise been found under piles of debris used their phones to notify family and first responders of their locations.  Simply amazing.    

Even without TV and phone calls, I was able to stay updated to the minute because of social media.  Without Twitter, I would not have known that all the children from Briarwood Elementary made it out safely, and their parents could pick them up at a specific location nearby.  The Thompson family might not have found their three-year-old child who was waiting for them at St. Anthony’s.  I know I said amazing already, but these situations prove to me yet again how amazing the power of social media truly is.  

I didn’t quite know how to feel that day.  I have watched and followed the recent tragedies our country endured, but I have never been so close to one.  Thinking back to those moments when we were watching this tornado rip through Moore and not aware of the mass devastation at the time makes my stomach hurt.  Knowing that people’s lives instantly changed forever, while I continued my ordinary day, it’s just weird.  I’m sorry I don’t have a better way to explain it, but it’s just a very strange feeling.  It could have been any of us.     

This tornado is officially more devastating than the May 3rd, 1999 tornado.  Just like with the other tragedies, please don’t forget about Moore, Oklahoma, just because the media stops talking about it.  So many people are left with nothing.  Their lives will NOT just go back to normal in a few days.  

May 20, 2013. 

 It is Super Fan 5k time here in Norman.  If you are reading this blog you probably already have seen something about the 5k but it is finally here!!

When Zac first announced that he wanted to change to a 5k from Humayliation, I was excited.  Mostly because this was painful.  I have never had half of my face go numb like that without involving a trip to the dentist.  On top of that, it turns out I am a little allergic to the grass wherever we filmed that video.  Add in the pain of jumping in the air and landing on your back, I was happy to have to run a little for charity this year instead.  

Setting something like this takes a lot of work and preparation.  Kelby has led our efforts to put this event on and she has done a great job.  Initially, I thought I would run the 5k, but I wont.  I will be taking photos of the event as Old Hat’s third string photographer.   When everyone that has talent is gone, they turn to me.  I am excited to do it and I am excited for the race to be here. 

Giving back in some way or another is something I love about Old Hat.  Ironically, I am not a fan of being on websites or filming myself and posting it online.  I try to keep a tight lid on what gets out on the interwebs about me.  When I applied for Old Hat, Zac asked if I used Facebook.  He asked because he could not find me on Facebook and it would be a part of my job.  I keep my account locked down as much as possible.  When Robert tagged me at a restaurant in North Carolina, I almost un-friended him and then quickly logged on to undo what he had done.  I am not trying to hide; I am just not one to broadcast my life to the world.  The point of this rambling is that when it comes to giving back, I do not even think about it.  I ran for an hour on a treadmill last week, broadcasting my receding hairline to the world but really did not care.  I am not near as entertaining as Zac, Robert, or Tricia but I wanted to do it to help out even if I bored the audience to tears.   Twenty years from now, there will still be a video of my failed attempts to be a real soccer player and embarrassing myself online but I do not care because of what Old Hat is doing to help those in need.  

The Super Fan 5k is raising money for Norman Public School Foundation and the Mary Abbott House.  Both are great causes and the money is definitely going somewhere that it is needed.   We are still accepting donations so if you have not managed to get to Norman for the race, go to http://superfan5k.org/donate and help Old Hat support two great causes.  And who knows, after this weekend we may have a few more embarrassing videos to put online. 

As many of you are aware, the NCAA Football Rules Committee enforced new rules this week including a number of uniform and equipment changes. These rules include: numbers on jerseys need to have a distinct color, towels must be solid white and and measure no smaller than 4" x 12" and no larger than 6" x 12", and all eye shields of any kind must be clear. 

Along with these rules, "social media designations such as URL's and hashtags, are prohibited." Hashtags and URL's may still be placed on scorebaords and stadiums, just not on the field, end zone or sidelines. 

Exceptions to the rule include: NCAA logo, conference logo, college/university name and logo, team name and logo and the name (but not logo) of the commercial entity who purchased naming rights to the facility in no more than two locations. Postseason brings a new set of rules. The name or logo of the title sponsor is allowed in three locations: a single advertisement on the 50-yard line, and two smaller advertisments. You can read the bulletin here

Rogers Redding, the national coordinator for college football officials stated, "The idea is just to preserve the integrity of the field and not open it up to other kinds of advertising." Dan Wolken of USA Today stated that the rule was put in place to simply avoid any other issues. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this new rule. Discuss in the comments section below. 

Last weekend we all got infected here at Old Hat Creative.  Staff infection is a point in the year were we all gather to discuss what has happened, what needs to happen, and what will happen in the coming months at Old Hat. Along with a little bit of painting!

This was my second staff infection at the company and it is something I value quite a bit about working at Old Hat.  Zac takes the time to let us know where he sees the company going and to listen to what we have to say.  

This year was different in the fact that we broke up into small committees to discuss the issues facing Old Hat.  In fact, each committee took it one step further, solutions had to be offered.  Each committee addressed the problem and came up with a solution to implement.  

As a whole group, we discussed the problems and the solutions.  We all know what we need to do to improve and we all know what our goals are for the coming busy season.  It should be an interesting year!

As you may know, the NBA Playoffs have started. As you may not know (as I did not until Hannah sent me this yesterday), the OKC Thunder have a new fight song.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yVV-ugC-k

Thank you to Hannah and thank you to "Matthias in Southern California" who, in case you were wondering, made another chant for Manchester United.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4UU9l8Q1xo

Can somebody get this guy a shirt? 

There are few things as sacred in the world of sports as records. They are not only impressive statistics but really a measure of greatness. For male sprinters it was 10-second barrier in the 100 meter dash. Jamaica's Usain Bolt owns the current world record at 9.58. If you're a running back in the NFL the magic number is 2,105 yards. The Vikings' Adrian Peterson was just nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson's 28-year-old single season mark. Records also help tell the story of the sport. Hank Aaron broke baseball god Babe Ruth's career homerun total just three decades after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. 

One hallowed record that is quickly being approached is Mia Hamm's all-time scoring record of 158 career goals in international women's soccer. U.S. forward Abby Wambach is just three shy of tying this one. As a fan it's exciting to be a witness to history. U.S. Soccer has a great campaign called #ChasingMia that really helps the fan follow along and get some behind-the-scenes looks at history being made. And from a video and design perspective they're doing some really cool things.

I love the graphics and photo intro they have before showing Wambach's latest goal:

The text in this image includes the goal number, date, opponent, location and type of goal (head, right or left foot or penalty kick):

U.S. Soccer is also honoring the current record holder with Legend to Legend episodes:

Lent is the time of year between Ash Wednesday and Easter, when many Christians prepare for the Easter season by making some sort of sacrifice in their personal lives.  The Lent season last 40 days, not including Sundays, and ends on Easter.  Many give up things like coke or alcohol, others go out of their way to try and do something nice for others, and then there are those of this new trend.

I have noticed many friends and family members of mine giving up Facebook, or social media all together, for the 40 days.  The biggest question I have is will they return to Facebook after the Easter season?  If they do will they check it less often then they did before Lent?  Will this trend continue in the future?

Another trend that is happening in the Facebook world, and not related to any religion, is one of people unfriending others.  You have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but how many of them do you really talk to?  People are moving back to the basics, and unfriending people they do not talk to regularly.

Twitter on the other hand seems to be more resistant to this trend, as people already choose who they want to follow.  You don't have to be friends with them.  You can read their posts and if they choose so, they can follow you back.  I tend to view Twitter as the Entertainment channel on tv, but where you get to choose which celebrities you want to keep up with.  And if one thing is for sure about many Americans, it's that they love their celebrities and all the drama of their daily lives.  

As it seems that more and more people are moving away from social media, how will marketers and advertisers find new ways to reach out to their client bases in the future?  Maybe more celebrity endorsements on twitter, will be the answer.  Only time will tell.

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