In a world of emerging media, organizations around the world are constantly analyzing to better understand where and when to jump on board to this mobile shift in society. At what point is it going to make sense business wise, and how this is relevant for collegiate athletics? My question is, “What are you waiting for?”
Schools can no longer afford to play catch-up with technology with the Millennial Generation flooding into their programs and hundreds of missed opportunities. And, we have not yet planned for the future applications needed to accommodate Generation C, The Communicators.
Colleges around the world fund hundreds of thousands of dollars into their athletic programs, but why? An article written by researchers Jaren and Devin Pope, “Athletic Success Leads to Admission Influx,” a “study of the impact of college sports success on admissions, finding that the number of applications increases between 2 percent and 8 percent for the top 20 football schools and top 16 basketball schools each year.” Even if you are not a Top 20 school, think about how we know the schools we know around the world…Sports!
Walk around on a college campus and you will see one thing, MOBILE PHONES. Whether you are trying to evade the people on the sidewalks looking to collect signatures for a new law by pretending to be talking on the phone, or texting friends to meet-up in-between classes, the conversations are all taking place with a 2 ½ x 5 electronic device. Whether your school has a population of 1,000 or 30,000 this is a lot of students that can be reached via ONE method, via their mobile phone.
A question for you: Why not engage the student population with the athletic department one step further by providing new partnerships with sponsors and take collegiate athletics strategically social?
1. Mobile Application Development
You know the kind you go into your Blackberry App World, Android Market, or iTunes Store to download?
To go one step further, imagine the potential for an investment to create your own school application. For example, instead of sending the students to other resources to ‘push’ scores to their phone, collegiate athletics should be using this as an opportunity to capture that data and the audience. Make your program more accessible. Additional opportunities exist for updates on the next home game and a sponsor deal of the day. I’m sure a ticket sales component can be fit in somewhere too.
2. Mobile Check-in
Let’s drive attendance, and how about we tell everyone else about it! Most collegiate athletic programs now have a specific Fan Page for their Athletic Department.
To go one step further, begin to utilize Facebook Places to encourage attendees to ‘check-in’ at a game. Or capitalize on Foursquare creating a specific ‘sponsored’ name for each sport’s team venue. You might be the mayor of basketball, but are you the mayor of the soccer field? What if you were able to create a deal for all game attendees to drive them to a local bar/restaurant to take their group after the game?
3. Student-Athlete Blogging
It would be so great to have a platform that would allow your student athletes to reach out and communicate with the student population of the college. This isn’t only for the population of the college, but the outside fans and community who support them. It not only allows the student-athletes a voice to share their unique experience, but also an opportunity to keep your fan base alive!
To go one step further, create the platform for your student-athletes to share their unique experience with the rest of the college and supporters. Let them express their struggles, successes, challenges they overcome, and relish in the accomplishments. This will allow your program to build your department beyond just a score posted on the web or ‘pushed’ to a cell phone.
4. Social Media Sponsorships
So mobile sounds like a great way to create awareness for a program, but how does this relate to revenue? Schools with a mobile platform and integration with their community will have a greater opportunity to tie in sponsor dollars allowing for more strategic digital partnerships. It takes partnerships beyond stuffing cup holders with a redemption coupon to actual activation elements.
To go one step further, write down all the elements of your audience profile. They travel to your event, come to campus for classes (even via the web for global classes), socialize with their classmates and friends, attend a sporting event if they know about it, and will usually go somewhere as a group afterwards. As a marketing/sponsorship department, what are you doing to help increase the fan experience for your audience and how can you tie in a partnership element to help? Imagine being able to tie in sponsorship opportunities to your digital audience such a product placement on a behind the scenes tour.
Not only does it increase revenue opportunities for your brand, it allows you to build new creative partnerships that engage your audience.
I invite you to continue the conversation below with other mobile features collegiate athletics should consider. In addition, include some other unique opportunities mobile might provide in strategic partnerships.
What do you think about a Live Stream of an event through the Facebook page?
Image: Johan Larsson
Also check out the article: Top 10 Mobile Sports Apps