UC social media scores with 'opportunity to play Notre Dame'

Expert sees 'only upside' from increased exposure
UC football ranked No. 5 after beating Notre Dame
Posted at 8:55 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 18:34:47-04

CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati received 34,000 mentions on social media and news sites over the weekend when its football team defeated Notre Dame, offering it the potential to reach more than 250 million people.

Data from shows UC got eight times the mentions and 12 times the reach of the Cincinnati Reds during the same period, based on the customer-experience management company's search of major news sites and social media sites such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and Instagram.

“There’s no net negative to this,” said Bryan O’Loughlin, director of paid social at Empower, a marketing firm based in Over-the-Rhine. “There’s definitely only upside to them driving more eyeballs to their content.”

The win has been described as the biggest in the history of UC’s football program, causing it to jump to No. 5 in the AP Coaches poll – and putting it within reach of a national championship. But it’s also a chance to reach more fans, sell more tickets and expose social-media followers to educational and sports offerings at UC.

O’Loughlin said UC did a good job on Twitter of keeping fans in the moment before and during the game, then celebrating the win with a cheeky post that thanked Notre Dame football coach for “the opportunity to play Notre Dame.”

It’s a reference to a pre-game comment by Kelly – who left UC without a head coach in the 2010 Sugar Bowl so he could start his next job at Notre Dame.

“It’s important to try to connect with your audience in a tone that they’re already speaking in,” O’Loughlin said. “They’ve really leaned into the sort of, I don’t want to say snarky, but aggressive comments whenever it seems like something is happening that would involve UC …. playing the underdog.”

Empower's Culture Tap tool ranks UC fourth among local sports teams in followers, but second in engagement.

UC declined to answer questions about its social media strategy, but O’Loughlin commented on elements of that strategy based on social media posts.

In the days following the win, UC’s main Twitter account has used the Notre Dame win to showcase its engineering program.

And UC’s Athletic Department linked to a site where fans can become donors.

“A really important thing for every brand … is trying to understand what the objective of that particular post is,” O’Loughlin said. “If you say, ‘We’re really trying to sell tickets with this particular ad,' we have to make sure that we are optimizing it for clicks. You’re setting up the ad so it has a a particular call to action. Then, we can track them when they get to our website and understand what their behavior is and whether or not they’re more likely to purchase tickets because they saw a particular ad.”