Since Twitter was initially founded in March 2006, the social media platform has earned more than 313 million monthly active users. While that number seems quite impressive, Twitter’s share price (NYSE: TWTR) has gradually declined since its initial public offering in 2013. Athletic departments at higher education institutions, like SMU, still use Twitter anyway to grow their fan base and draw in potential recruits.
Brooks Cockrell, Director of Creative Media for SMU Football, says Twitter is a great way to draw potential recruits to SMU. When deciding if something is “tweet-worthy” for the @SMU_Football account, he said they just have to determine if it’s something that would appeal to recruits and fans.
“As far as the SMU Football account is concerned, our main purpose is to attract potential student athletes to our program, while also appealing to our fan base,” Cockrell said. “A lot of times, these things overlap and we are able to show off unique aspects of our program for recruits as well as fans.”
SMU is not only using Twitter to recruit prospective students and athletes, but also as a tool to get donations. While trying to achieve both of these goals, SMU Twitter accounts can create a lot of noise amongst the Twitterverse. Between the five colleges and SMU’s main twitter account, they have accounted for nearly 40,000 tweets. That doesn’t even include the athletic teams’ Twitter accounts, which are each recruiting students on their own through over a collective 100,000 tweets.
Ashley Davis, a senior applied physiology and health management major, likes Twitter. She follows both the general SMU account (@SMU) and the football and men’s basketball accounts.
“I like to keep updated on the teams and what they’re doing,” Davis said. “I also like to know what’s going on around school.”
Her favorite SMU tweet was by @SMU_Football, SMU’s official football account, back in January. @SMU_Football posted a tweet mocking the Los Angeles Chargers new logo. The Chargers’ logo and the SMU Football tweet are below. Cockrell said this tweet really blew up out of the blue, earning more than 5,000 likes and nearly 2,500 retweets.
“We noticed that a few pro team accounts had jumped on the trend of making fun of the new logo and decided we would join in,” Cockrell said. “It was a really simple tweet that ended up taking off as one of our most popular tweets from the football account.”
This tweet amused far more people than just Davis. The tweet was so popular that even the Dallas Stars Twitter account joined in on the fun, mocking the Dallas Cowboys logo.
Fun tweets aside, SMU athletics just isn’t reaching the bar that Davis wants to see. She thinks that overall, the SMU athletic accounts don’t tweet enough.
“Ohio State Athletics has a great social media presence,” Davis said.
Davis is right: Ohio State Athletics (@OhioStAthletics) has 426,000 followers and 44,100 tweets in comparison to SMU’s general athletics Twitter account (@SMUMustangs) with only 16,500 followers and 10,400 tweets. It is important to take into consideration that Ohio State has more than 45,000 undergraduate students in comparison to SMU’s undergraduate enrollment of about 6,400.
Comparing apples to apples, SMU’s football and men’s basketball Twitter accounts each tweet more than the general SMU athletics account. SMU football even has 500 more followers than SMU athletics.
“Our coaches are constantly getting positive feedback from high school coaches about our social media presence,” Cockrell said. “We also enjoy engaging with our fan base whenever possible, because interacting with our fans is really important in making them a part of our program just by being accessible.”