NJCAA sees first hand the benefits of social media

Michael Teague, the NJCAA’s assistant director of media relations, remembers when he first joined Facebook as a college freshman in 2006.

“Back then you had to have a university-registered email account because Facebook was only for college students,” he said. “That wasn’t that long ago. Now it’s across every spectrum in every industry. It will be surprising to see where it is in five years.”

The NJCAA office uses social media to spread the gospel of junior college athletics. At times, it spreads like wildfire.

When Tallahassee (Fla.) Community College was ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in school history on April 24, the NJCAA posted that bit of news on its Facebook page.

Joking that social media is basically a “pyramid scheme,” albeit a legal pyramid scheme, Teague said that news filtered to thousands of Facebook pages.

“The reach we typically see is 1,000 to 1,200 (Facebook shares or likes). Tallahassee players and fans were so excited, they shared that post with all the people they’re friends with who might not know about our organization,” Teague said.

“They were so excited, 3,500 people saw it. It’s all about not only reaching a number of people, but getting them excited to share or retweet it to show their friends.”

During the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series, Teague and Mark Krug, the media relations director for the NJCAA, will post photos to the Facebook page daily, and will send Twitter updates throughout games.

During the men’s basketball tournament, Teague sent out a Twitter hashtag for all schools, coaches, players and fans to use to make searching for tweets about the tournament easier. They’ll do the same for the JUCO World Series (#jucoWS).

JUCO Tournament Chairman Jamie Hamilton said in his insurance business, he hasn’t seen any concrete evidence of how social media generates new business. With JUCO and the NJCAA, though, it’s not just about business, it’s about exposure.

“If you’re not there, that one time there’s a chance to grow exponentially, and I don’t know what that is, but all of a sudden, if we have another Bryce Harper performance or a kid throws a perfect game and we’re not there, that’s when we’re going to miss the boat,” Hamilton said.

The NJCAA lights up whenever Harper’s name comes up.

“Anything Bryce Harper does, we want them to associate that with our organization,” said Teague, who made sure the word got out on Twitter that five former junior college football players were selected in the first round of the NFL draft. “Getting that out there wakes people up about what kind of talent we have coming out of our organization.”

And unlike the business world, athletic organizations like the NJCAA see the value of social media when it comes to sponsorships.

“We can go into negotiations with sponsors and to have a bunch of followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook shows companies how far your reach goes,” Teague said. “Sometimes that will show a bigger value in our organization.”

Social media for entities such as JUCO and the NJCAA is the equivalent of free advertising.

“We’re in the unique position of not being a business and not selling anything,” Teague said. “Our main goal is to get our name out there.”


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