Summer is usually a quiet time in collegiate athletics. None of the teams are competing and there are only so many times that a devoted fan can visit a team’s webpage to view the countdown clock until the first football or basketball game in the next school year. However, The University of Louisville is changing the way athletic departments will market their programs during the summer doldrums with a comprehensive social media plan this summer which features their mascot Louie the Cardinal.
Louie the Cardinal, “with a little help from the athletic department”, has unveiled his two- month social media schedule, starting this week ,as fans anxiously await the football season opener on Sunday, September 2nd against in-state rival University of Kentucky. Fans will have the chance to win a variety of prizes by participating in the promotions which utilize many social media outlets. For example, an easy way to win prizes is to show your Louisville spirit on vacation and include in your picture “@UofLSports #L1C4”.
Here is how the department is executing their social media outreach throughout the summer:
#mmm!Monday – Pinterest
On Monday, Louie grabs his apron and is in the kitchen looking for Cardinal recipes from food and drink lovers. Each week, a different “Cardinal-ized” category will be announced searching for the best tailgate food, drink idea or appetizer. Fans can pin their UofL creation on a Cardinal Athletics board and Louie will find the best ones.
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#TutorialTuesday – YouTube
Tuesdays, Louie meets up with Louisville coaches for instructional videos airing on Louisville’s official YouTube channel. Louisville’s coaches will demonstrate lessons and answer questions that have been submitted by you, the fans. Need a quick tennis lesson or golf swing tip? Tell Louie on Facebook what you want to see for Tutorial Tuesdays.
#WordyWednesday – Facebook
Wednesday, when Louie posts a photo, you post a caption. It’s that easy. Join the more than 129,000 fans and like the official Facebook page of the Louisville Cardinals for a chance to win great prizes.
#ThrowbackThursday -Twitter http://twitter.com/LouieTheCard and http://www.twitter.com/UofLsports
Throwback Thursday is all about sharing memories and photos from the past. Louie wants fans to tweet his official account (@LouieTheCard) with a photo of your favorite Cardinal experiences. Be sure to include #ThrowbackThursday and #L1C4 with each tweet. Then, look for an archive photo, game program or newspaper article from @UofLSports, the Twitter feed for Louisville athletics. Louie will show his old stuff, if you show him yours.
#FrameitFriday – Instagram
The newest platform in Louisville’s social media arsenal is Instagram, where fans can be creative with their photos. Louie is hunting for fan photos that spell out C-A-R-D-S or L-1-C-4.
Summer promotional schedules like this are still very uncommon in collegiate athletics, but with schools like Louisville creating this type of social media engagement during the down months it will be imperative for other schools to follow their lead. Cardinals fans will now be more cognizant of the summer activities of their favorite teams and players.
An added benefit of their outreach campaign could be the impact on recruiting. Summer is a time when many different athletic programs are actively recruiting. This type of engagement will keep Louisville athletics on the minds of many of those 16 and 17 year old potential recruits, who are very social media savvy.
Louisville’s outreach activities demonstrate how college athletic fan outreach is quickly shifting from a nine month to a year-round priority. Louisville’s social media efforts have certainly been successful to this point as they have 129,000 fans on Facebook and 15,000 on Twitter . We can’t wait to see which Big East and national programs will emulate Louisville’s lead.
(Photos courtesy of University of Louisville Athletics)