We've been preparing for this football season with some schools for the last nine months.  While the 2012 season was still going on, we were doing research, gathering footage, creating ticket plans, etc. so we could put together the best marketing plans and materials for 2013.  Instead of guessing what your fans want, you can ask them via online surveys, social media or mobile websites that solicit feedback from fans at the game, as well as at home.  Make it easy for the fans to provide helpful tips on what's going to keep people coming back to your games.

Once you have that info, don't forget to use it.  Look back at it every few weeks or so to make sure you adjust your marketing plan in real time.  If you're wondering what giveaway item might get fans to arrive early to the game, post a quick poll.  If you're not sure if having your game on Thursday night instead of Saturday afternoon will affect your attendance, do a little research.  And as much as I know it's not fun to read the message boards, they can be a great source of information if you can weed through the other crap that's on there.  You can't take the comments personally, but jumping on there to share information can help you spread the message you want out there.  

If you know your fans well enough, you can create contests and challenges with prizes that will incentivize them.  Over the weekend, I saw Arkansas posted its Summer Social Media Challenge, which had smart intervals and rewards to match each level.  It will be fun to watch the fans respond!

Oh have times have changed.  On Friday, I ran into one of my counterparts, Betsi Sherman, who worked at Minnesota when I was at Northwestern and we talked about how things have changed so quickly through the years.  I remember starting Coach Fitz's Facebook page, helping the Athletics page hit 5,000 Likes in three weeks and assisting with writing the Twitter policies for the department.  With new platforms popping up all the time, we just need to keep finding the best ways to use each one to help make our plans.  And it doesn't hurt to have awesome people around you while you do it!

 

 

 

Everyone knows Lil' Duey and his mischievous antics. He has traveled the world, visiting athletic departments and breweries along the way. He has the tendendancy to blackout on occasion, but we still love him!

With his record, we don't quite trust his ability to protect our office, so we picked up this guy, pictured below. He loves taking photos with the staff and any clients who visit so it's about time to officially welcome him to the Old Hat family with an offical gnome name. 

Help us #NameOurGnome by tweeting suggestions over the weekend along with the hashtag #NameOurGnome. We'll announce the winning name on Monday morning and the winner will receive the ultimate prize pack courtesy of Old Hat Creative and... the gnome pictured below.

 

Good morning!

I've been thinking about this topic for about a week now.  On July 2, Twitter updated some of its display requirements for tweets.  (These can be found here - https://dev.twitter.com/terms/display-requirements).  The main idea behind this is to allow for a more fluid user experience between Twitter and other sites using their API.  That's not a bad idea, right? Well yes and no.  

If you are going to make requirements for the displaying of your tweets, I believe you should be responsible for providing the information for those tweets.  For instance, one of the guidelines is to make every hash tag and username in a Tweet clickable.  Not tough, Twitter does this for you right.  Nope.  Not when using their API.  They return a string (message) with no html to you.  No links, no method for converting the links, nothing, nada.  They expect the developers using their API to do all of this processing on their own.  In other words, here's some more work for you to do if you want to use our product.  I'm sorry but that is pretty lame.  You already have the programming set up in your system.  Just return the string with the links already provided! It's not like I'm asking for anything difficult here!

Another requirement is to have the intents (favorite, retweet, follow, reply) links available.  They don't have to be shown immediately, but must be available to the user upon some action (hover, click, etc).  Cool. Great idea. NOT! Again more programming that they don't provide and what if I don't want people to reply from my site.  What if I'm using my Twitter account more as a news feed for my site, such as when this is done:

Well basically this is a no go.  It breaks the guidelines because it has no intents and links in its has tags, and user profile name or picture linked to the account.  Say what?! I also have to have my Twitter profile pictures and account name on there! And there are restrictions on where and how I can place these items too!  But what if I'm only displaying tweets from my account.  This is absurd.  If I want people to get to my Twitter account, I will link them to it with the little bird.  

This brings me to my next point on the guidelines.  No changing the color of the bird.  I really don't have a huge beef with this one as it is their logo and you are not supposed to change logos, but the unintended effect will be ugly Twitter icons that do not match your site design.

Yes a white bird would have technically worked in this feed, but it would not have been near as eye pleasing as one that blends flawlessly into the design.

And finally there is the whole date issue.  They have specific ways they want you to display the times.  That's great, but please provide a way to do so!  Don't make the people who are making you the platform to go to, do more work.  On top of that, it increases the chance that people may display them improperly.  

I rate these changes right up there with how I feel about Facebook changes.  And that's not too high.  I understand wanting a more fluid experience but sometimes not squishing people back into the box is the best way to make your product the number one item in your industry.  If you want everyone in a nice neat box, provide the packaging matterial to do so.  Don't make me go out and build the box that I am supposed to be shoved into.  If you are going to provide me with an API to get info from your site, let me do what I please with the info.  If not, don't give me access.

Twitter, do you feel these changes are really going to help your product?  I feel you are just hurting the people that helped you build your empire.  Are you really going to try to enforce these policies you are making?  If not, call them recommendations, not requirements.  And if you do enforce them... well expect to see a lot feeds disappearing from sites.  

So to recap, say goodbye to feeds like these and say goodbye to creativity:

RANT OVER!

 

UPDATE:

I just wanted to let you all see what the new stands look like when all the tweets come from the same account.

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July weekend. The past 4 days have been great here in Norman. Not only was the weather PERFECT (a cool 70 at night), but I spent a lot of time with friends from Murray State (Go Racers!), watched America's favorite pastime at the OKC Redhawks game and enjoyed some delicious food at Zac's 4th of July party!

Saturday night was the big finale of my 4th of July weekend as I had the opportunity to work the Toby Keith Twister Relief Concert at OU's Memorial Stadium. The 65,000+ tickets sold went to help those affected by the May 20th tornado in Moore Oklahoma. Last football season, I worked with the Sooner Club in the suites. My contact reached out to see if I'd like to volunteer for the concert and I jumped on the opportunity because I love country music and in a small way, it was a chance for me to give back. My responsibilities for the concert were to check tickets and answer questions on the club level (where there was air conditioning :)), but for the most part, I was able to sit out on the deck and enjoy the concert. 

While watching the concert, I captured the experience on the new Instragram video. Below you can watch 15 second clips of the cheering crowd and segments of songs from a few artists (my phone died before Toby Keith's preformance). 

Video of Garth Brooks leaving the stage and the crowd of 65,000 fans!

 

I finally saw Willie Nelson!

 

Ronnie Dunn singing Red Dirt Road! 

 

I'm bad at directions.  This past week, I've been vacationing at a condo in Siesta Keys where the friends I'm with became familiar with the area after the first day.  They jump in the car and easily find the grocery store, restaurants and the airport when I would have to get out my phone to figure it out.  I know the reason I'm not good at this is because I don't always pay attention to the details.  When they drive they make note of things they passed, remember the street names, etc. while I just enjoy all of the fun things that are happening around me.

There are always fun things going on in our daily lives, so imagine trying to sell someone like me a ticket to a sporting event.  How do you get my attention long enough to give me the details I need to make a purchase?  Giving me a long, detailed brochure is great, but then I need you to break it down for me too.  I want to be able to reference that brochure when I have questions, but if you want to actually sell me something, I need it presented in small, digestible chunks.  

And sadly, I'm not the only person like this.  Give me a visual or tell me a story and I can spit back that information perfectly, so that's why I love infographics.  If you're trying to tell a story that people will remember, they are amazing.  Even if the story isn't flashy, you can make it look fun.  For example, last year when I was working from the Miami campus, I found out that one of the most confusing processes for the fans was printing their tickets at home, so together we made this infographic:

When you're running a new contest with the goal of collecting fan data to make a sale, an infographic can show people why it's worth giving their contact info and they can easily share this contest with friends and family across the social media platforms.  The reach is much bigger when you create something your fans want to tell their circles about.

We saw the power of the people in Pulaski, Tennessee in 2011 when we created a social media campaign for James Justice to win the fan vote into the NCAA Slam Dunk Contest.  He's 5'9 attending a school of less than 800 students in a town of less than 8,000 people and yet, his story spread across the state to beat out guys at schools ten times the size of his. 

When he won the fan vote, Athletic Director, Jeff Bain, then came to us and said, "well, now we need to raise the money to actually send him to New Orleans!"  Using the t-shirt we designed, we continued the campaign to turn these voters into donors, which we did.  The best part of the story is that with this opportunity he went there and won the dunk contest!  It still gives me chills to think about it.  I've never met James Justice, but getting to know him through this campaign is by far one of the best experiences I've had working in college athletics.  How can you not love this guy?

 

So if you're wondering if infographics can help tell your story to generate national brand recognition, as well as generate revenue for your programs, the answer is yes.

Without them, I have to rely on other people to get me where I'm going.

 

I don't have a ton of memories from spending time with my father growing up.  He was in a car accident when I was 6 that nearly killed him and for a couple of years, he was incapable of doing much in the way of the typical father-son things.  And even after he had fully recovered, he was never the type of father to sit down on the floor with me and play a game.  He worked hard all week and then on the weekends he worked harder (I grew up on a farm).  This is not to say that my father failed in any way.  I think he still spent more time with me and my siblings than a lot of fathers do.  And he was a great dad.  I'm just saying that due there wasn't just a ton of one-on-one time.  Therefore, the memories I do have of time with my father are held very precious to me.  Three to four times per year, he would drive me the hour-long trek from Guthrie, OK to Norman to see the Sooners play football.  It was the Switzer era and there was no bigger fan of Brian Bosworth than I was.  I was equally as excited to go to the 2-3 OU men's hoops games each season.  Wayman Tisdale, Mookie Blaylock, Tim McAlester...  All my heroes.  But I don't think anything was better than when he'd take me to Stillwater to see OU play Oklahoma State in basketball.  Gallagher-Iba Arena held all of about 37 people back then and there were typically 4 OU fans in the entire crowd.  I was one of them for about 8 years in a row.  I'll never forget those times and because of those moments, I have passed that along to my own sons.  I want them to have those same memories I have.  

Years after I started Old Hat, I finally decided to sit down and figure out our mission.  What is our purpose?  Why do we do what we do?  I had pondered that many, many times and for some reason it was never obvious to me.  But all at once it became very clear why we are here and why I started Old Hat to begin with.  Almost every person I speak to, whether they are sports fans or not, have some memory of a sporting event that they will never forget.  Whether it's just driving to track meets with their dad, attending the World Series or simply playing little league, I've never met a person that didn't have a great sports memory that nearly brings tears to their eyes thinking about.  And those people ALWAYS remember exactly who they were with.  

Sports brings people together.  It provides opportunities for fathers to create lifelong memories with their sons.  It allows people to share great moments with their brothers, sisters, mothers, friends, etc.  And we get so wrapped up in it that the emotion often turns into embraces and tears of joy.  And all of the stresses of life are temporarily invisible.  

THAT is why we do what we do.  At Old Hat we have the opportunity to be a part of that.  We can amplify that experience for people.  Whether it's helping get people in the seats to begin with or making they experience better once they arrive, we are a part of creating memories for literally millions of people every year.  I take great satisfaction in that.

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. 

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