Adapting and Experimenting the New Norm for Social Media and Sports

The two most frightening words in the English language — status quo.

In an age when content and news is absorbed and delivered instantaneously, when industries are disrupted seemingly overnight, and when consumer behaviors evolve just when we were catching up, flexibility is essential. The team at West Virginia University Athletic has embraced and executed upon a mindset of being in control of their own digital destiny, and eagerly exploring encouraging avenues.

One of the first steps in this direction was deviating from just about everyone else in the country by making their website an internal project, eschewing the SIDEARMs and CBS Interactives of the world, in favor of more control and more self-serve customization and ability to adapt and change on the fly.

“(Having our own website) is really the flexibility of doing what we want when we want to do it…,” said Grant Dovey, Digital Media Manager for WVU Athletics. “The website I look at is CNN.com. If you look at CNN, sometimes it won’t look the same… Right now (on our website)…if we win something, maybe I change it and make the whole top of the page one column (for example, instead of thirds)…”

It may seem subtle, but jumping onto the back-end of the website and revising the overall template and presentation to account for the news of the day or the newest feature or social feature of the moment offers impressive flexibility. It’s more than website administration, though, it’s an attitude of looking for ways to optimize and to get better on a daily basis.

Social media and sports pros are often in an advantageous position in which representatives from the social media networks are eager to work with them to get their massive audiences active on their platforms, as well as sampling and maximizing their newest features.To be sure, many are too busy or succumb to a suspicion of more work or resources needed to try something new, possibly at the expense of something tried and true. But the only way to discover something great is to find a way to try it., before the season’s hours turn into days and months, and you blink and it’s the last week of the season.

“I am all about trying new things,” said Dovey of working with social media networks to help WVU Athletics get the most out of them and work with newer features. “…If (social media platforms) have something new they want to throw our way, I’m all about it…Just continuing to try anything new is what we’re down for.”

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Yes, there is shiny new toy syndrome. But there is also the opposite (insert witty name here). The best are always keeping their eyes and ears open, though, looking at everything they’re doing, digitally and socially, through the lens of their fans. It’s not about keeping up or staying ahead, being the first, or just being different for the sake of being different. We must not be afraid to deviate from the safe and comfortable, and seek to create a better experience or better content or fans. Master your craft, but don’t get so good at your routine that you’re not ready to adapt to what happens tomorrow. Tell your stories, but be prepared to present them in newer and better ways. And don’t get seduced by the safety and satisfaction of status quo.

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