Tag Archives: college hockey

Social media and college sports rivalries: Managing #OzWhiteout Weekend

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If you attend one of the schools or know DIII men’s hockey, you know that Oswego vs. Plattsburgh is a college sports rivalry of legendary proportions. The two teams always vie for the SUNYAC title, an NCAA bid (often both get in) and bragging rights. When it comes to school spirit, social media is an amazing outlet. But if you’re a social media manager, how do you harness that enthusiasm?

You plan, you prepare, you tap talented students and you all manage the plan early and often.

We started using #ozwhiteout as the official tag a couple years ago but were more aggressive with it this year. I’m happy we didn’t pare it down to #whiteout because Arizona used that tag this weekend for a big basketball game and our tweets would have been lost in the flood of a huge Division I program. An unofficial (funny but somewhat offensive) #puckflattsburgh tag stays around every year, and #whiteoutweekend was a player.

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While we didn’t have broad promotional support this season (goal for next year: get hashtag on the official T-shirt) I worked with our sports information director, Mike Bielak, to solidify early, and he made the above scoreboard graphic (also shared on social media) promoting the tag, which announcers read during games. White the Whiteout term originally just applied to the hockey matchup, the athletic department has broadened it to Whiteout Weekend, which featured eight home games total — two each for men’s and women’s hockey plus men’s and women’s basketball — even though the Oswego-Plattsburgh ice showdown is unquestionably the main event. We promoted the tag and the weekend fairly heavily on Facebook and Twitter the week leading in, with much of the Twitter promotion coming via retweets of other fans using the official tag.

Using topsy.com, I looked at the three main related hashtags, as of Monday morning:
– 643 mentions for #ozwhiteout
– 220 for #whiteoutweekend
– 97 for #puckflattsburgh

The #ozwhiteout figure was by far the biggest tag use I’ve ever seen for one of our campus events (maybe twice the previous record). In addition, 84 photos posted to Instagram sported the #ozwhiteout tag. I just imagine the figures if we could get everyone on one tag and not watering down the figures, but social media is a democratic, not top-down, communication device, so you just do your best and ultimately appreciate anybody who is (positively) active around your events.

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Our social media team — interns Kristen Burke, Alyssa Levenberg and Lavon Shim-Johnson plus video grad assistant Phillip Moore — deserve a lot of credit. Kristen and Alyssa alternated running our Twitter account (one would do game tracking, the other crowd/superfan shots) and Instagram for hockey-related activities. Lavon took care of basketball, which had its own exciting weekend. Phil filmed and posted a video showing the line of students camped out in the Campus Center waiting for Oswego-Plattsburgh doors to open, which we used as a post-event thank you to our students for their dedication … and can use to promote future #ozwhiteout games and student life in general.

On the ice and the hardwood, our teams went 5-2-1 for #ozwhiteout weekend. In the marquee game, our young Laker men’s team held Plattsburgh (ranked #1 in the nation) to a 3-3 tie, a huge growing and learning opportunity for our freshmen-laden squad. But overall when so many of our fans are active, proud, positive, enthusiastic and connected via social media, it’s a win for school spirit.

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through the looking glass.

Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd has looked at his fellow Americans and seen they all seem to be looking at something else through something else. Of Tuesday’s inauguration, he notes:

Sadly, the thing that will stick with some of us about it was not the stirring words, the historical import, or the celebration of democracy. It was the virtual seas of people standing, witnessing history, and viewing the entire unfathomably huge event through a video screen the size of an open pack of matches.

Two things about the crowd distinguished this inauguration as I watched: 1) never have I seen so many smiling faces at such an event, and 2) never have I seen so many smiling faces hidden behind a camera or cellphone. Judd’s piece touches on those who tramp off into nature and spend all their time photographing and filming what they see. Instead of stopping to smell the roses, people are now cropping to sell the roses. He says that if you must take a picture of a beautiful scene, do so. But …

… then try something radical. Just stand there. Feel the spray settling on your face. Look around you and watch how the sun lights it up in a rainbow arch. Take in a few deep lungsful of that sweet, alpine air. Taste it. Feel it. Close your eyes and let your ears record the river’s thunderous retort to the constraints of gravity. Hold still for a moment and, when you’re ready, tell yourself quietly: Remember this. Never forget. Brand this moment on my soul.

As I watch people around me so often photographing themselves in the most mundane moments, I wonder if we’ve become a nation of voyeurs more than doers. Do we feel compelled to document things — like The Most Photographed Barn in America in Don DeLillo’s White Noise — instead of engaging ourselves in actually experiencing things?

I bring this up as I take a road trip to Pittsburgh later today, with the Oswego women’s hockey team playing two games vs. Chatham University this weekend. When I traveled with them to Boston last year, I kept a journal with pictures later published in the alumni online newsletter. This time I’ll take photos and blog, but I also plan to step back from the camera and enjoy a city in the midst of Super Bowl™ fever. The company of two dozen outstanding young student-athletes. And some exciting hockey. Real life seen through eyes, not filtered the digital looking glass.

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